Australia is one of the largest countries of the world. The Commonwealth of Australia (the official name of the country) is located in the southern hemisphere. The country is bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, the Tasman Sea, the Coral Sea and Arafura Sea.
Its territory is a great island which is almost a whole continent itself. Australia’s territory is 7 741 220 square kilometers. The capital of the country is Canberra and the largest and most populated city is Sydney.
Australia is composed by 6 states and two major mainland territories, being the states: New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and the Tasmania Island. The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are the major mainland territories.
Australia’s territory is almost as large as territory of United States; nevertheless the population of Australia is only 21 370 000 people, therefore Australia has one of the lowest rates of population density of the world, with only 2.6 inhabitants per square kilometer.
The name of the country derives from the Latin word “Australis”, which means “Southern” and was used by several Europeans navigators that explored the South Pacific, to refer to this region; nevertheless the name was popularized by the navigator Matthew Flinders in his book “A Voyage to Terra Australis”, Flinders was the first person to circumnavigate Australia. The British Crown recognized officially this name in 1824.
Because of the great size of the country, the weather in Australia is very varied with micro climates that range from tropical to sub alpine. However, most parts of the country are hot and dry; almost two thirds of the continental Australia, in the centre and west receives less than 500 mm (20 inches) of rain per year.
Besides, around one third of the country is covered by deserts with an average rainfall rate of only 250 mm (10 inches) per year. The coldest climate is in the Tasmania Island in the south of Australia; whereas the hottest zone of Australia is the tropical northern coast, this region of the country has only two seasons wet (from October to march) and dry (from April to September).
Average temperatures in northern, western and central Australia usually fluctuates between 26ºC (80 ºF) and 29ºC (85º F), but they can reach some times 38ºC (100 ºF).
The southern coast of Australia has a climate quite different to the rest of the country in this region there are four seasons well differentiated and the hottest temperature occurred in summer, mainly in January and February and the coldest months are June and July with temperatures that can decrease until 2º C (35 ºF) in some zones of the Australian Alps.
The human history in Australia began around 40 000 years ago, when the first ancestors of the aborigines arrived to Australia, probably from South East Asia. This people developed a oral culture non very complex; but very interesting, which based in spiritual values and a great reverence for the natural environment.
For several centuries native Australian people lived without foreign intervention, but since XVII century the mainland of Australia were visited by Europeans explorers such as the Dutch navigator Willem Janzoon who arrived to the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606.
Many Europeans visited the coasts of Australia known then as New Holland during almost two centuries. Nevertheless, the most famous explorer of Australia was the Captain James Cook who aboard Endeavour led a scientific voyage through the South Pacific, reaching the east coast of Australia and claims it for the British Crown; then Australia became a British colony.
At the beginning, Australia was used by British as a penal colony, therefore most of the first Europeans inhabitants of Australia were convicts that arrived for first time to the Sydney Harbor on January 26, 1788; this day is now celebrated as the Australian National Day.
The penal population was growing until 1868 when British ended the transportation of convicts to Australia. Around 160 000 men and women were brought to Australia during this time. However, the convicts were not the only European inhabitants of Australia. Many free immigrants arrived to the country attracted by the great opportunities generated by the wool industry and the gold rush.
Unfortunately like in the rest of the world the European colonization caused the declination of the native population, which was 350 000 people, before European migration and it was only 93 000 at the beginning of the XX century. The new infections brought by Europeans migrants and the genocide done during almost 150 years were the most important causes of the dramatic aborigine population decline.
The gold rush in the second half of the XIX century caused several conflicts with the British rules. Step by step the six individual colonies were gaining government responsibilities and politic independence, whereas British Empire lost its influence in Australia. Finally in 1901 the federation of colonies decided created the Commonwealth of Australia; nevertheless Australia was still a Dominion of the British Empire.
The first decade of the new nation was a time of progress. The Australian agricultural and manufacturing capacities were developed and the main government institutions and social services were established. Australia actively participated in the two World Wars, many Australian people died fighting in both wars.
The impact of the war in Australia was very important, marking an instability period with social and economic divisions; this period occurred between the first and the second World War.
But, the post-war marked the beginning of a prosperity period in Australia. The country received the migration of a great number of refugees of the war. This massive immigration of workforce allowed the growing of the Australian economy. During this period were constructed most major nation-building projects such as hydroelectric, bridges, motorways, etc.
Since 1960s the Australian society has been changed so much, because of the post-war immigration, Australia became a multi ethnic multi cultural country. Therefore, many laws in the country were created to protect the minorities. Australia is now one of the most developed nations of the World with an excellent education system and a prosperous diverse economy, which exported 218 billion dollars in 2007.
It is also a great natural paradise; Australia concentrates a unique variety of flora and fauna that includes some of the most representative symbols of the country like kangaroos, koalas or the marvellous corals reefs , which are protected in the national parks, World Heritages listings and wildlife sanctuaries.
Because of all these reasons Australia receives every year around 5.6 million visitors; therefore, tourism is on of the main sources of incomes of the country.
Australia is a nice country with an amazing natural environment, a rich multicultural culture and spectacular cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra or Brisbane, each one full of architectural wonders like the Opera House of Sydney, which is considered a wonder of the modern world. Australia is an irresistible nation that combines wonderful natural landscapes, urban sophistication and nice people.