Officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia, this country and continent consists of mainland Australia, Tasmania and other small islands. And as far as countries are concerned, Australia is the sixth largest in the world by surface area, which makes it relatively large indeed.
The capital of Australia is Canberra and the largest urban area in the country is Sydney. Other neighboring countries include New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Before the British settled Australia in the 18th century, there was a period of roughly 50,000 years where the country was only populated by indigenous Australians that spoke around 250 different languages. Once the continent was discovered by Europeans – particularly the Dutch in 1606 – the eastern half of Australia was claimed by Great Britain and they did so in 1770. The initial settlers were brought to the New South Wales colony on January 26, 1788 and they were made up of prisoners.
Over the next decades, the Australian population grew. There were an additional five Crown colonies established in the 1850s, and in 1901, the six colonies became the Commonwealth of Australia. The country is made up of a liberal democratic political system, it operates as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy with six states and a number of different territories, it has a population of 24 million people, it’s urbanized, and it’s a beautiful place to live or visit if you’re a tourist.
As far as the economy is concerned, the Australian economy is the 13th largest in the world. And on a per capita income basis, it is the ninth largest economy. The great thing about living in Australia is they provide their people with economic freedom, civil liberties, excellent health, high quality of life, and a phenomenal education. Plus, the people living in Australia have many political rights and freedoms that are only available to people living in a free nation.
Australia is a world leader and a member of many important international organizations. They are members of groups including the World Trade Organization, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations, G 20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and ANZUS.
The landmass of Australia is made up of 2,941,300 mi.² or 7,617,930 km². The continent of Australia itself is located on the Indo Australian plate and it is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The continent is separated from Asia by the Timor and Arafura seas. And it is separated from New Zealand by the Tasman Sea. As far as continents are concerned, Australia is actually the smallest continent out of the seven currently in existence today. But by total area, it is the sixth largest country and many people call it an island continent. In fact, numerous people refer to Australia as the largest island in the world since it is separated from so many other landmasses.
Australia is the home to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest coral reef in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is quite large, and in fact is 1240 miles long, which is over 2000 km. Plus, Western Australia is home to the world’s largest monolith known as Mount Augustine. This mountain is 7310 feet or 2228 m on the Great Dividing Range and it’s considered to be the highest mountain on the mainland in Australia.
The size of Australia makes it the perfect location for many mountain ranges, tropical rain forests, and even dry desert areas. As the flattest continent in the world, it has some of the least fertile and oldest soils. It’s also the driest inhabited continent, and the average rainfall throughout the continent is actually less than 500 mm.
The climate in Australia has major influences from El Niño’s Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole. The continent will experience seasonal tropical low pressure systems and periodic droughts. Because of these specific climate changes, there will be periodic cyclones in the region of northern Australia. Unfortunately, the factors mentioned above will also make the rainfall amounts vary every year.
When it comes to the northern part of Australia, the climate is tropical and predominately has a summer rainfall feel to it. On the southwest corner of Australia, it is known to have a Mediterranean climate. And on the southeast side of the continent near Tasmania and coastal Victoria, the climate is subtropical and humid. The climate in the interior of the continent is known as semi-arid.
It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Australia is considered a wealthy country. They have a number of different sources that they use to generate income including manufacturing, telecommunications, banking, and mining related exports. As a market economy, the country itself has a fairly high GDP per capita, which is a great thing because on the other side of the coin, the people living in the country experience very little poverty.
As far as the average wealth of people living in the country of Australia, they are actually ranked second in the world just behind Switzerland. This is even after the poverty rate in the nation took a slight jump from 10.2% to 11.8% in 2013. As a matter of fact, Credit Suisse has determined that Australia is the nation with the highest median wealth throughout the world. They are also considered the nation with the second-highest wealth on average per adult in 2013.
In Australia, the currency in the country is called the Australian dollar. Other surrounding islands also use the Australian dollar as their currency. The islands include Norfork Island, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and the independent Pacific Island states including Tuvalu, Nauru, and Kiribati. This nation is also home to the ninth largest stock exchange in the world when in 2006 the Sydney Future Exchange and the Australian Stock Exchange merged to become the Australian Securities Exchange.
As far as economic freedom is concerned, Australia is actually the 12th largest economy in the world. And on a per capita GDP basis, they have the sixth highest at US$ 56.291. The country focuses on exporting commodities instead of manufactured goods. Since the 21st century began, this is one of the significant reasons why Australia is a growing country. The rising commodity prices provide this country with a great deal of additional capital.
When the financial crisis took place throughout the world in 2008 and 2009, Australia was the only developed country to avoid experiencing any type of an economic meltdown. But Australia’s economy was affected nonetheless because six of their major trading partners experienced a recession during the economic downfall. This had a significant negative impact on the country’s economic growth in recent years. Although the economy has experienced some growth as of 2012.
The Largest Towns and Cities in Australia
In Australia, there are a number of large cities and towns. Sydney is the largest and it’s located in New South Wales. It has a population of 4.85 million people. Melbourne comes in second. It’s located in the state of Victoria and has a population of 4.45 million people. Brisbane, located in Queensland, has a population of 2.275 million people and is the third-largest city in Australia.
Coming in fourth, we have Perth which is located in Western Australia. They have a population of 2 million people. Adelaide is located in Southern Australia and its population is 1.3 million people. Gold Coast Tweed Heads is located in Queensland and New South Wales and has a population of 600,000 people and is the sixth largest on our list.
To continue rounding out the top 10, coming in seventh place is Newcastle Maitland located in New South Wales. Its population boasts 430,000 people. Canberra Queanbeyan is located in New South Wales and Australia Capital Territory and is the home of 420,000 people. The Sunshine Coast in Queensland comes in ninth place with nearly 300,000 people. And in 10th place, Wollongong also has roughly 300,000 people and is located in New South Wales.
Even though there is technically no official language in Australia, the people predominately speak English so many consider it the de facto national language. And if you ever heard an Australian person speak, you can tell that they have a very distinctive accent. And they also vary their spellings and grammar from other forms of English.
As far as the standard dialect is concerned, it is called General Australian. And based on a census taken in 2011, English is actually the language that is only spoken by more than 81% of the population.
There are other common languages in Australia as well. Although as you’re about to see, they are much less common than English. 1.7% of the population speaks Mandarin, 1.5% of the population speaks Italian, 1.4% of the population speaks Arabic, 1.3% of the population speaks Cantonese, 1.3% of the population speaks Greek, (I love Greek food) and 1.2% of the population speaks Vietnamese.
Australia is an amazing place. It’s a great place to live if you’re looking to relocate, or if you’re looking for a beautiful tropical vacation you should definitely check out Australia sooner rather than later.