Australia-climate-map_MJC01Australia is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s smallest continent and sixth-largest country by total area.

Australia is a larger country than many people believe. To travel from the easternmost point of Australia, Cape Byron in New South Wales, to the westernmost point of Australia, Steep Point in Western Australia, you would have to travel 4100 kilometres (km). To travel from the northernmost point of the country, Cape York in Queensland, to the southernmost point of the Australian mainland, Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria, you would have to travel 3180 km.

For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery of the western coast by Dutch sailors in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through convict transportation from Britain to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. This anniversary of this date is now celebrated as Australia’s National Day.
The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

The federation now comprises six states and several territories. The population of 22.9 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states.

A highly developed country and one of the wealthiest, Australia is the world’s 12th-largest economy and has the world’s fifth-highest per capita income. Australia’s military expenditure is the world’s 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.
Australia’s size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with subtropical rain forests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and dry desert in the centre. It is the flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils; desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate. The population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, is among the lowest in the world, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline.

Following World War II and through to 2000, almost 5.9 million of the total population settled in the country as new immigrants, meaning that nearly two out of every seven Australians were born in another country. Over 80 percent of Australia’s population is of European ancestry, and most of the rest are of Asian heritage, Asian Australians make up 12% of the population.

Sydney - Australia's largest city

Sydney – Australia’s largest city

Size comparison with western europe

Size comparison with western europe

(Derived from Wikipedia. For the complete entry see