|AUSTRALIA, is an
island continent located southeast of Asia. It constitutes a self-governing
member of the British Commonwealth and extends about 4,000 km from east
to west and about 3,700 km from north to south, covering an area of 7,682,300
sq.km. This makes Australia the smallest continent and the largest island
in the world but the sixth largest country. Australia is the most sparsely
populated of the inhabited continents. Its total population of 20 million
corresponds to an overall density of 3 persons per sq.km. The capital
of Australia is Canberra, and the largest city
is Sydney; both are located in the east.
Australia is made up of six states - New South
Wales, Queensland, South
Australia, Tasmania, Victoria,
and Western Australia - and two territories
- the Australian Capital Territory
and the Northern Territory.
The first inhabitants of Australia were the Aboriginal people,
who migrated to the continent some 50-60,000 years ago. The continent
remained unknown to most of the outside world until the 17th century.
The first permanent European settlement was established in 1788
at Port Jackson (Sydney), as a British penal colony. Australia developed
as a group of British colonies during the 19th century, and in 1901
the colonies federated to form a unified independent nation.
The climate of Australia varies greatly from region to region, with a
tropical climate in the north, an arid or semiarid climate in much of
the interior, and a temperate climate in the south. Seasonal variations
are small. The temperate regions of southern Australia have four seasons,
with cool winters and warm summers.
SYDNEY was the first permanent European
settlement in Australia and today the country’s largest metropolitan area,
with about 4½ million residents. It is the capital of New
South Wales, Australia’s most populous and economically important
state. The city is a dynamic cultural center with a diversified economy
focused on service industries, tourism, manufacturing, and international
commerce. Its port is one of the leading centers of intercontinental trade
in the Asia-Pacific region.