|Road network length||353.331 km|
|Length of highway network||2.480 km|
|License plate code||OUT|
Australia is a country in Oceania. The country has 25 million inhabitants and is approximately 190 times the size of the Netherlands. Australia is so big that it is often referred to as a continent in itself. The capital is Canberra, the largest city is Sydney.
According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Australia is so big that it is not called an island but a continent. The continent measures a maximum of 4,000 kilometers from west to east and 3,150 kilometers from north to south. The continent is surrounded by oceans and seas, such as the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Indian Ocean to the west and the Southern Ocean to the south, although this term is really only used by Australia. North of Australia is the Timor Sea, Arafura Sea, Coral Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The large island of Tasmania is located south of Australia and is one of the states. The country has no land borders with other countries. The shortest distance to a neighboring country is across the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea, the distance between the Australian mainland and Papua New Guinea is 150 kilometers. East Timor is located 460 kilometers away across the Timor Sea and around it are numerous islands belonging to Indonesia. Australia is often mentioned in the same breath as New Zealand, but the distance between the two countries is 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers. The French overseas territory of Nouvelle-Calédonie is located 1,200 kilometers from the Australian coast. The distance from the southern tip of Tasmania to Antarctica is 2,600 kilometers.
The continent of Australia largely consists of the ‘Outback’, a very sparsely populated, poorly accessible and isolated area. Large parts of the Outback are fairly flat, but there are scattered rock formations and ridges. The highest mountain ranges on the continent lie parallel to the east coast, with the Australian Alps and Blue Mountains to the southeast and the many mountain ranges of the Great Dividing Range to the east. The 2,228 meter high Mount Kosciuszko in the Australian Alps is the highest point in Australia. Vast deserts cover Australia such as the Strzelecki Desert and Simpson Desert in the center and the Great Victoria Desert, Gibson Desert and Great Sandy Desert in the west.
The southeast and east coasts of Australia are the most cultivated part of the country, with extensive agricultural areas, dividing inland into ranches and then uncultivated Outback. In the southwest around Perth is the Wheatbelt, an agricultural area. The coastal plains of Queensland are also regularly agricultural in character.
Australia has few major rivers. There are some large rivers, but some of them run dry in the summer. The Murray River is Australia’s longest river. The next five longest rivers in the country are all tributaries of the Murray River. Lake Eyre is formally Australia’s largest lake, but is often largely dry. This is an endorheic basin that does not drain into an ocean.
Australia has many climatic zones, ranging from a temperate continental climate in the southeast and southwest to a tropical to even equatorial climate in the north. The interior of Australia has largely desert climate. The east coast has a largely subtropical climate, except south of Sydney and north of Mackay. The northwest and northeast of Australia is regularly hit by tropical cyclones, which can cause major flooding. In the interior, there is a prolonged drought, with only sporadic precipitation. In the Australian Alps there is snow in winter, enough to have a few ski areas in use. Winters in Australia are less cold than areas similarly distant from the North Pole, which is because due to the great distance over the open sea, the cold air from Antarctica rarely reaches the Australian continent. The average maximum temperature in southern Melbourne is about 14 °C in winter.
Australia’s economy is highly based on services and commodities. Australia is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, with a high income and a high degree of wealth. It is one of the 20 largest economies in the world. There is a lot of mining in Australia, especially coal, ore and rare metals, which are mainly exported to East Asia. The country also exports many agricultural products, especially grain, wheat, and wool. However, the manufacturing industry is declining as a share of the total Australian economy. Australian economic growth can fluctuate, in particular following commodity price developments.
The population of Australia has grown strongly, from 3.7 million in 1900 to 8 million in 1950 and 18.9 million in 2000. On 7 August 2018 the limit of 25 million inhabitants was reached. Immigration has been a major contributor to Australian population growth since 2000. Most of the Australian population is of European descent. The largest non-European group are Chinese Australians. Less than 3% of the Australian population is made up of original Aboriginal people. See Australia population density.
Australia has five major cities; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Other cities are usually a lot smaller. There are 16 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Almost all major cities are on or near the coast, the capital Canberra is the largest inland city, followed by Toowoomba in Queensland.
Australia’s vast surface area makes it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Large parts of the interior are very sparsely populated. For example, the Shire of East Pilbara in Western Australia has an area larger than Germany, but has only 13,000 inhabitants, half of whom live in Newman.
The national language of Australia is English and is spoken by the majority of the inhabitants. People speak the variant Australian English, which in pronunciation is more like British English, but has many elements of American English in terms of language use and choice of words. Over 15% of Australians speak a language other than English at home, the largest minority languages being Italian, Greek and Chinese, Arabic and Vietnamese. It is striking that Italian and Greek are still widely spoken as these immigrants arrived much earlier than Asian immigrants.
Australia was traditionally populated by what are now called Aboriginal people. The Australian continent was discovered by the Dutch in 1606, but the first colonies were founded by the British from the late 18th century. The eastern part of the continent was claimed by Great Britain and initially populated by prisoners, a so-called ‘penal colony’. The continent was further mapped during the 19th century and the population started to grow, especially in the coastal regions. From January 1, 1901, the six Crown Colonies formed a federation, the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1911 the Australian Capital Territory was formed for the new capital Canberra. Melbourne was the temporary capital between 1901 and 1927 while Canberra was under construction. ItNorthern Territory was administered by South Australia until 1911, then by the federal government. Australia fought in both World War I and World War II and was bombed by Japan. Under the Westminster statute of 1931, ties with the United Kingdom loosened. With the loss of the British army in Asia and the danger of Japanese occupation, a new alliance with the United States followed. After the Second World War, there was a wave of immigration from Europe to Australia, and since the 1970s also from Asian countries. In a 1999 referendum, a proposal to create a republic with a president was rejected by a majority of voters in all states.