Australia is the Earth's smallest continent, located in south-east Asia. It is the sixth largest country in the world. The Indian Ocean is west and south, the Pacific is east. The nearest island is Tasmania on south. Then nearest is Indonesia, Papua New Guinea on north, Solomons, Fiji and New Zealand are on east. Its area is about 8,000,000 sq. km.
The surface of Australia is mostly flat, only one twentieth of the whole continent is higher than 600 m above the sea level. The Great Western Plateau occupies nearly half of the continent. In central Australia there are three deserts - the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and Great Victoria Desert. The second part is the Central-Eastern Lowland. It is mostly covered by tropic forests and savannah with occasional creeks and rivers. The third basic Australian area are the Australian Cordilleras. Their northern part- the Great Dividing Range- begins on the York Peninsula. The New England Range and the Blue Mountains continue to the Australian Alps with the highest mountain of the whole continent Mt. Kosciusco.
The largest river is the Murray River which flows to the Indian Ocean and the second largest river is the Darling. There are 3 big lakes here: Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens and Lake Gairdner.
The Australian climate varies from warm to subtropical. The continent is in the southern hemisphere which means that Australia has summer when we have winter and vice versa.
The animals of Australia are numerous and some of them, like kangaroo, koala bear, dingo, platypus, wombat and frilled lizards cannot be found elsewhere. It is mainly due to the fact that for long prehistoric periods this continent was quite isolated from the others.
The population of Australia is some 16,000,000. The density is one of the lowest in the world - only 2 people to 1 sq. km. Around 85 per cent people live in urban areas mainly along the south-east coast. Deserts and the tropical northern part are practically uninhabited.
95% of inhabitants are of the British origin.
Australia's native inhabitants, the Aborigines, arrived at least 40,000 years ago.
The earliest European explorers who knew about this continent were the Portuguese, namely Luis Vaes de Torres in 1606. Captain James Cook explored the eastern coast in 1770. Within decades Britain got the entire continent which became a convict from 1788 till 1850s when immigration increased because gold was found here.
The Commonwealth was proclaimed in 1901. About 3 million Europeans had entered Australia since 1945.
Main industries are iron, steel, textiles, electrical equipment, chemicals, car, aircraft, ship and machinery. Australia belongs to the top exporters of beef, lamb, wool and wheat. Other agricultural items are barley, oats, sugar, wine, fruit and vegetables. Natural riches contain mainly bauxite, coal, copper, iron, nickel, silver, uranium etc.
The official title is The Commonwealth of Australia and it is a British dominion. It has a democratic, federal system and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II represented by the Governor-General.
The Commonwealth of Australia consists of 6 states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania) and 2 territories (Northern Territory and Australia Capital Territory).
The currency is an Australian dollar.
The capital is Canberra, other cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide.