Australia, or the Commonwealth of Australia, is the largest island in the world. It is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of total land area and is home to some of the most unique flora and fauna. The country was first explored by Dutch explorers in 1606. The Dutch explored the country’s western and northern coastlines and named the country New Holland. They, however, made no attempt to settle the continent. James Cook, the famed explorer, was the first Englishman to map the east coast, which he then named New South Wales, and claimed the territory for England.
The country had been pretty much thoroughly explored by the end of the 1850s. Six self-governing colonies were established on the island continent and by 1st January 1901, the colonies federated, thus forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Human habitation, it is assumed, began on the Australian continent some 65,000 to 70,000 years ago. Indigenous Australians have a rich culture based on oral traditions and spiritual traditions deeply rooted in the land.
Until the 19th century, Australia was best known as New Holland, the name Australia, while used here and there, didn’t come until much later. The name Australia, it is believed, has been derived from the Latin term Terra Australis, which means southern land. The name Terra Australis referred to a hypothetical continent in the southern hemisphere which had been hinted at since ancient times. These days Australia is also known as Oz, or the Land Down Under.
The population of the country amounts to over 25 million and out of which 26% are immigrants. The population density of the country is about 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometer. Australia ranks 9th in terms of immigrant populations. The country has rapidly become a power to be reckoned with. It is a member of the United Nations, G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Trade Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD_ among a variety of other groups to promote trade.
The country is the smallest continent in the world and also the world’s largest island. It has a land area of 7,617, 930 kilometers and is flanked by the Indian and the Pacific oceans. The Timor and Arafura seas separate the country from Asia while the Tasman sea separates it from New Zealand. The country, being an island, has a massive coastline which contributes greatly to its economic and pleasure activities. The 34,218 kilometer coastline of the country which includes the many islands that make up the country.
The country also hosts the world’s largest coral reef, The Great Barrier Reef. This spellbinding natural wonder lies in the North-East coast and extends for over 2000 kilometres. A majority of the population is settled along the eastern and southeastern coastal strip. The exception here is Perth, which is considered to be one of the remotest cities in the world. The country exhibits a variety of terrains, but is largely made up of arid regions. Australia is also known as the driest inhabited continent in the world. The average rainfall on the continent is less than 500 mm.
Eastern Australia stands out by the Great Dividing Range, running parallel to the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, and much of Victoria. These ranges cannot be called mountains as most of them are low hills, and the highlands are not higher than 1600 meters. There are also rainforests in the far northeast while in the southeast there is a huge fertile plain. The northeast rainforests are situated in the Cape York Peninsula.
The tropical climate has given rise to a variety of landscapes which include dense forests, woodlands, wetlands, rainforests, grasslands and deserts. These regions are rich in animal and bird life which is considered to be some of the most unique in the world. The northwest corner of the continent have a number of sandstone cliffs and gorges. The central region of the country also consists of a number of desert regions. One of the biggest attractions of the country is also the world’s greatest sandstone monolith, Uluru, also known as the Ayers Rock.
The climate of the country is highly influenced by ocean currents, this is one of the reasons of the periodic droughts in the region. Seasonal tropical low-pressure systems also are a cause of cyclones in northern Australia. These factors make rainfall highly sporadic through the year and year on year. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate which experiences rainfall during the summer, or what is known as the monsoon. The southwest part of the country has a more Mediterranean climate.
There are a number of different animals and plants in the country that do not occur anywhere in the world. The country is home to over 250,000 types of fungi, out of which 5% are considered to be unique to Australia. The unique weather patterns, the continents great age, and long geographic isolation has been the biggest contributing factor to the nation’s unique biota. The country has the greatest variety of reptiles in the world, over 755 species of reptiles inhabit Australia. Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the only continent in the world that has developed without the presence of any feline species. Feral cats were introduced in the 17th century and have been attributed to a serious decline in the number of several endangered species. Australia is home to some really unique animal life. Creatures like the kangaroo, koala, wombat, are marsupials and are unique to Australia. Birds like emu and the kookaburra are also unique to this region.
The country of Australia has six states, they are:
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
The two major mainland territories are – Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. These eight regions have given rise to eight capital cities in the country. After the 1901 federation the capital of Australia was mandated as Melbourne, which was changed to Canberra by 1927. Canberra is also the official capital of the Australian Capital Territory while Darwin is the capital of Northern Territory.
The capital of New South Wales is Sydney and is one of the most populous cities in the country with a population of over 5 million people. The capital of Victoria is Melbourne, also voted as one of the most amazing cities to live in the world. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland while Perth is the capital of Western Australia. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia while Hobart is the capital of Tasmania.
The capital cities of these territories and states are some of the most developed cities in the world. Sydney is home to the well-recognized landmarks of the country like the Bridge and the Opera house. Sydney has established itself to be a strategic center for banks, fund managers, insurance groups among many other services like IT, law firms and telecom providers. The country also is looking at an overhaul of a lot of its infrastructure which has also spurred demand in this sector. Manufacturing of fast moving goods has also been greatly sought after here.
Melbourne is widely considered to be the food and wine center of the country and in recent history has been crowned as the best city in the world to live in. The city regularly welcomes specialist designers, business analysts and project managers, among many other profiles in the IT sector. Even sales and marketing sectors are seeing a huge boost in this region.
Brisbane being the capital of Queensland has been the center of the state’s huge mining business. This has transformed the face of the region and converted it into a bustling metropolis. Mining and mining related services are the fastest growing services in the region, so much so that for every job created in the mining sector 16 more are created in mining-related services.
Adelaide boasts of stable employment and a high standard of living while Canberra is one of the fastest growing markets in the country. Perth might be a highly isolated city but its booming mining industry has made it the nation’s energy capital. All in all, the capital cities of Australia are some of the best places to live in the world be it in terms of the quality of life as well as the amount of jobs available to people.
Indigenous languages in Australia were documented to number up to almost 250, a lot of which have faced a steady decline over the years. Today indigenous languages are spoken by only around 1% of the population. Over 73% of the country speaks English. The most common languages, other than English, spoken in Australia are:
- Italian & Greek
Chinese languages like Cantonese and Mandarin have the largest number of speakers after English numbering up to 4% of the total population.
Australia has a booming economy and is considered to be a wealthy country. It has various sources of incomes including mining exports, telecommunications, banking and manufacturing. The country has a considerably high GDP and a low rate of poverty. The country ranks second in the world, right after Switzerland, in terms of average wealth in 2013. The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Australia as fifth in the world and it is the twelfth largest economy in the world.
The currency for the nation is the Australian dollar. The country has the sixth highest per capita GDP in the world and is ranked right at the top in the Human Development Index. The Australian Securities Exchange is the sixth largest exchange in the world. The country has grown at a higher rate than that of the OECD average for over 15 years, which is considered to be very healthy. The country is one of the largest mixed-market economies in the world.
Australia has entered into free-trade agreements with ASEAN, China, Canada, Chile, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Thailand and the United States. The mining industry of the country is one of the biggest in the world and is the greatest contributor to the country’s prosperity. Fields like infrastructure, IT, medicine are just some of the areas where the country has seen a significant growth over the years.
Mining continues to be one of the greatest exports of the country. 54% of the coal mined in the country is exported, Australia is also home to the second largest diamond mine in the world, the Argyle mine. This mine is also known to produce the incredibly rare red and pink diamonds which are greatly sought after around the world. Agriculture is also a strong contributor to the GDP and adds about 3% to the total GDP of the country. 60% of the farm products produced in the country are exported.
IT related jobs like system design and engineering are also rapidly gaining traction in the country. Finance is also a huge sector in Australia, and four of Australia’s biggest banks are considered among the top 50 safest banks in the world. Tourism industry, too, is one a big market for the Australian economy and contributes up to 2.5% of the country’s economy. Media is also a big industry in the world and has one of the highest press freedom in the world. Australia also has up to 99% of literacy rate and is also a sought after destination for education in the world.
The country boasts of one of the most advanced sporting infrastructure in the world. The country excels in a variety of sports including cricket, football, horse racing, hockey, surfing etc. The country has some of the most desired beaches in the world. The white sands and surf make this country a great destination for surfers from the world over. Australia is unique in terms of the fact that it has four different football codes.
The country has a strong aboriginal culture which had a largely oral tradition. The country has produced a number of celebrated authors and poets, such as Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Patrick White who went on to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973. Each state boasts of its own symphony orchestra and there is even a national opera company. Each state also has a publically funded theatre company which has given rise to some award-winning plays. The aboriginal art tells stories and tales and it inspired the contemporary aboriginal art revolution which was considered to be the last great art revolution in the 20th century.
Australia also has a unique cuisine which is considered to be a combination of its aboriginal hunter-gatherer origins, colonial influence and immigrant cultures. Each culture that has entered the state has had its own influence on the nation’s diet and eating patterns. The urban centers have a thriving coffee culture and there are outdoor cafes and bistros dotting many areas. The country provides something for everyone’s taste. For the artsy types the country has a number of theater, art, music events while those with a more sporting disposition will find themselves spoilt for choices.