Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, but it’s the smallest and the youngest continent, the only country that is also continent. Total area is 7, 7 mil. square km including Tasmania and it’s situated in southern hemisphere of the world between the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, which means that Australia has summer when we have winter. Much of land is flat expect for Great Dividing Range. The highest Mountain is Mount Kosciuszko. The largest rivers are the Murray and the Darling, but most of rivers are creeks which dry up during the summer.
However, 23, 5 million people live there, mostly European origin. The discovery of Gold in the middle of 19th century attracted many immigrants and the population increased rapidly. In recent years, many immigrants have come from other European countries and Asia, too. The first people there were Aborigines. They arrive in Australia about 10 000 years ago, during the last ice Age. At that time sea levels were lower and people could easily cross from Asia. When sea levels rose again, Australia was cut off, until it was discovered by a Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in the late 17th century. An early name for Australia was New Holland. Today, only 1.5% of Australia’s population are Aborigines.
The name, Australia, comes from the Latin terra Australia, which means southern land. In the 18th century the British explorer, Captain James Cook, claimed the land for Britain. At first Australia was used as a prison. Criminals from Britain were sent there. Later other people from Britain and Ireland went to live there. Australia became a British Dominion in 1901. The British influence is still very strong. The official title is The Commonwealth of Australia and the official head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor General. Australia is constitutional monarchy, in practise a parliamentary democracy. Head of government is Prime Minister. Parliament consists of two houses the Senate (76) and the House of Representatives (148). The official language is English, cars drive on the left, and the national game is cricket. The currency is Australian´s dollars. Australia’s royal anthem is “God Save the Queen”, played in the presence of a member of the Royal family when they are in Australia. In all other appropriate contexts, thenational anthem of Australia, “Advance Australia Fair”, is played.
The Australian flag consists of a small Union Jack (the flag of the UK) in the top left corner on a blue background and there are five stars that represented Southern Cross constellation and here is a seven-pointed star, the Commonwealth star represents the six states and one point is for the both territories.
Australia is a huge country – approximately 4 000km across, but most Australians live in the south-east corner between Sydney and Melbourne. This is because 90% of the land is very dry. Australians call this area the outback. There are some huge farms there with millions of sheep, called stations. Some of stations are even bigger than the smallest of European countries Australia is the greatest producer of wool in the world. Wool cutters are called sheerer. They travel in teams from one station to another. Most of them are able to sheer 100 – 120 sheep in one day. The children who live on these farms can’t go to school, because the nearest town is too far away. They study at home with the School of the Air. They talk to their teacher by radio and, nowadays, by telephone, the Internet and webcams, too. There is also a flying doctor service. The doctor comes to people by plane.
The capital is Canberra, but it isn´t the largest city. The largest city is Sydney with famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The 2000 Olympics were held in Sydney. The Olypics also directed national attention to many unresolved issues concerning Aboriginal Australians. The second largest city and nation´s financial and commercial centre is Melbourne. Melbourne is also centre of Australian football, cricket, horse racing and so on. Australia is divided into 6 states (Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia) and two territories (the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory)
Australia was cut off from the other continents a long time ago, so a lot of Australia’s animals, like the kangaroo, the koala and the platypus aren’t found anywhere else. Australia also has some of the most dangerous animals in the world. There are poisonous snakes and spiders. Several people are bitten every year, and schoolchildren have to learn first aid for snake and spiders bites. In the north there are huge saltwater crocodiles and in the sea, around the coast, there are sharks and poisonous jellyfish.
Australia is a rich country. Meat, fruit, vegetables, wool and wine are produced. Gold, silver, iron, copper, coal and diamonds are found there, too.
The Famous people who came from Australia are Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Paul Hogan, Ian Thorpe, Leyton Hewitt and other famous people.
Along the north-east coast is the Great Barrier Reef. This is the largest coral reef in the world.
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