Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and
the South Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates: 27 00 S, 133 00 E
Map references: Oceania
total: 7,686,850 sq km
land: 7,617,930 sq km
water: 68,920 sq km
note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 25,760 km
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south
and east; tropical in north
Terrain: mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain
lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m
Natural resources: bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin,
silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds,
natural gas, petroleum
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 54%
forests and woodland: 19%
other: 21% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 21,070 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts
Environment - current issues: soil erosion from overgrazing,
industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices;
soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification;
clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat
of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef
off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is
threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist
site; limited natural fresh water resources
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty,
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental
Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping,
Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection,
Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands,
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol,
Geography - note: world's smallest continent but sixth-largest
country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern
coasts; regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the
Doctor" occurs along the west coast in the summer
Australia, an island continent located Southeast of Asia and colaborating
with the neighboring island of Tasmania, the Commonwealth of Australia,
a self-governing member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Australia
is also the largest island and the smallest continent in the world.
It was once part of Asia, but the massive land broke off and drifted
south about 25,000 years ago.
Australia is situated in the Southern hemisphere, between the Indian
Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Basically, Australia's seasons
are just the opposite of the northern hemisphere - summer starts
in December, fall in March, winter in June and spring in September.
The seasons are arid to semiarid; with temperate zone in south and
east; tropical climate in north. The tropical zone (consisting of
40% of Australia) has two major seasons, summer ('wet') and winter
('dry') while the temperate zone has all four seasons (winter, spring,
summer and fall).
Background: Australia became a British commonwealth in 1901.
Blessed by rich natural resources, the country enjoyed rapid gains
in herding, agriculture, and manufacturing and made a major contribution
to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Australia subsequently
developed its minerals, metals, and fossil fuel markets, all of
which have become key Australian exports.
Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of
the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas,
especially the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia is the only country that is also a continent.
In area, it ranks as the sixth largest country and smallest continent.
Australia lies between the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
The part of the
Indian Ocean south of Australia is called the Southern Ocean in
the country. Australia is about 11,000 kilometres southwest of North
America and about 3,000 kilometres southeast of mainland Asia.
is often referred to as being "down under" because it lies entirely
within the Southern Hemisphere. The name Australia comes from the
Latin word australis, meaning southern.
official name is the Commonwealth of Australia.
A referendum to change Australia's status, from a commonwealth headed
by the British monarch to an independent republic, was defeated