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[ Countries ]  [ Australia ]
:New South Wales :Northern Territory :Queensland :South Australia :Victoria :Western Australia :Whitsunday Islands
1.New South Wales
2.Northern Territory
4.South Australia
6.Western Australia
7.Whitsunday Islands
Continent : Australia
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Information about Australia

The continent of Australia, with the island state of Tasmania, is approximately equal in area to the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Mountain ranges run from north to south along the east coast, reaching their highest point in Mount Kosciusko (7,308 ft; 2,228 m). The western half of the continent is occupied by a desert plateau that rises into barren, rolling hills near the west coast. The Great Barrier Reef, extending about 1,245 mi (2,000 km), lies along the northeast coast. The island of Tasmania (26,178 sq mi; 67,800 sq km) is off the southeast coast.

In land area, Australia is the sixth largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America and Brazil. It has, however, a relatively small population.Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth. It lies between 10° and 39° South latitude.The highest point on the mainland, Mount Kosciuszko, is only 2228 metres. 

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Its fertile areas are well-watered, however, and these are used very effectively to help feed the world. Sheep and cattle graze in dry country, but care must be taken with the soil. Some grazing land became desert when the long cycles that influence rainfall in Australia turned to drought.

Australia is a stable, democratic society with a skilled workforce and a strong, competitive economy. With a population of 20 million, Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and is the sixth largest country in the world in land area. Australia's multicultural society includes its Indigenous peoples and migrants from some 200 countries.

Australia has had one of the most outstanding economies of the world in recent years. As a high-growth, low-inflation, low interest rate economy, it is more vibrant than ever before. There is an efficient government sector, a flexible labour market and a very competitive business sector.

The language skills and other capabilities that attract foreign companies are, in part, a result of Australia's culturally diverse society. Migrants have had a marked influence on all aspects of Australian society. In more than 50 years of planned post-war migration, almost six million migrants have arrived in Australia from over 200 countries, including more than 600 000 refugees, and the population has increased from about seven million to more than 20 million.

Australia has a remarkable diversity of life forms seen nowhere else in the world. Australian plants and animals evolved in isolation from other parts of the world. When the super-continent of Gondwanaland split up about 160 million years ago, Australia joined Antarctica and drifted towards the South Pole, where glaciers formed a barrier between it and other land masses.

Today Australian eucalypts account for more than half of all eucalypts found throughout the world.

The marsupials native to Australia have a different chromosome structure than mammals in other parts of the world. Typically, they suckle their young in a pouch.Like the eucalypts, marsupials occupied a wide range of ecological niches in Australia. The first kangaroo marsupials seem to have appeared about 15 million years ago. They vary enormously in size and adaptation. A species of tropical kangaroo lives in trees, but most kangaroos are tough, efficient users of dry bush.

As the world climate warmed and glaciers melted, oceans gradually rose to their current level and the land bridges to New Guinea and Tasmania were cut. Corals colonised a flooded coastal plain, forming the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland.Ancient plants still grow in the wild. Large 'Antarctic' tree ferns are common in damp, shaded gullies on the south sides of ridges. Cycad palms form an understorey to tall, silvery spotted gums (eucalypts) along the south-east coast. Rare relics from earlier geological eras are found in small, special habitats, such as desert canyons.

The northern third of Australia lies in the tropics and so is warm or hot the year around. The rest of the country lies south of the tropics and has warm summers and mild or cool winters.In winter, many parts of the south have occasional frosts. But the Australian Alps and the interior of Tasmania are the only areas of the country where temperatures remain below freezing for more than a day or so at a time.

Australia receives most of its moisture as rain. Snow falls only in Tasmania and the Australian Alps. About a third of the country is desert and receives less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain a year. The deserts are too barren even for the grazing of livestock. Much of the rest of Australia has less than 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rainfall annually. Few crops can be grown in these regions without irrigation. The heaviest rainfall occurs along the north, east, southeast, and extreme southwest coasts.

The east coast of Queensland is the wettest part of the continent. Some places along this coast receive as much as 150 inches (381 centimeters) of rain a year. Parts of the southeast coast and of Tasmania are the only areas of the continent that receive uniform amounts of rainfall the year around. Rainfall is seasonal throughout the rest of Australia.

The Seasons
Australia lies south of the equator, and so its seasons are opposite those in the Northern Hemisphere. The southern part of the continent has four distinct seasons. Winter, the wettest and coolest season in Australia, lasts from June through August. Summer, which is the hottest and driest season, lasts from December through February.

Tropical northern Australia has only two seasons--a wet season and a dry one. The wet season corresponds with summer and lasts from November through April. The dry season corresponds with winter and lasts from May through October.

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