Australia is the sixth largest nation in the world and has the smallest
population of them such as Russia, Canada, China, the United States
of America and Brazil. Australia as a nation governs an entire
continent. The mainland is the largest island and the smallest
continent on Earth. It lies between 10° and 39° South latitude.
The highest point on the mainland, Mount Kosciuszko and is only 2228
metres. Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent. 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 the dry countryside.
The Australian federation consists of six States and two Territories.
Most inland borders follow lines of longitude and latitude. The largest
State, Western Australia, is about the same size as Western Europe.
Australia has a unique life forms not seen elsewhere the world.
Australian plants and animals evolved in isolation from other parts of
the world. Over the past 45 million years, Australia has moved away
from Antarctica towards the equator and become warmer and more
arid. About 35 million years ago, eucalypts began to displace the
dense forests of the cool, damp Tertiary era.
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. 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.
Australia’s land icon, the 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.
More than 60,000 years before the arrival of European settlers,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples inhabited most areas of
the Australian European settlement in 1788. There were an estimated
300,000 Indigenous Australians living on the continent. It is a fact that
asian and Oceanic explorers and traders had contact with Indigenous
Australian people long before the European expansion into the
After the American Civil War of Independence, Britain looked to
establish new penal settlements to replace the north Atlantic colonies.
The First Fleet of 11 ships with 1500 aboard, half of them convicts,
arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788. Sydney grew from that first
British penal settlement. Transportation of British convicts to New
South Wales ceased in 1840, but continued to Western Australia until
1868. About 160 000 convicts arrived over 80 years. That compares
with free settler arrivals as high as 50 000 a year.
During the 1850s, settlement was boosted by gold rushes. Scarcity of
labour, the vastness of the bush, and new wealth based on farming,
mining and trade all contributed to the development of uniquely
Australian social institutions and sensibilities.
In 1901 the Australian colonies federated to become the
Commonwealth of Australia. As in Canada, the British monarch
remains the monarch of Australia, which is now an independent,
democratic nation with a tradition of religious tolerance and free
Australia, a mixing pot of races and nations
Australia is culturally diverse society that includes its Indigenous
peoples and settlers from countries all around the world. Immigration
is an important feature of Australian society. Since 1945, over six
million people from 200 countries have come to Australia as new
settlers. Migrants have made a major contribution to shaping modern
Australia. People born overseas make up almost one quarter of the
The federal government sets immigration intake numbers on a yearly
basis. Australia's immigration policies are non-discriminatory and all
applicants to migrate must meet the same selection criteria.
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. With its abundant physical resources, Australia has
enjoyed a high standard of living since the nineteenth century. It has
made a comparatively large investment in social infrastructure,
including education, training, health and transport.
The Australian workforce has seen many improvements over the last
decade, leading to the surge in productivity in the 1990s. The complex
and centralised award based industrial relations system has given
way to a more decentralised one with many employees working under
workplace agreements tailored to meet enterprise needs.