INTRODUCTION TO AUSTRALIA
Australia is a natural wonderland of beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters, amazing ancient rock formations and pristine rainforests. It is the sixth largest country in the world and has the lowest population density per square kilometre. Australia has 16 world heritage listed properties with its historic townships, bustling cities, vivid landscapes and exotic flora and fauna all adding to its unique appeal.
Australia is made up of six states and two territories, which includes:
- Western Australia (WA)
- Northern Territory (NT)
- South Australia (SA)
- Queensland (QLD)
- New South Wales(NSW)
- Victoria (VIC)
- Tasmania (TAS)
- Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – our nation’s capital.
Covering a total area of 7.69 million square kilometres, mainland Australia is the world’s largest island – but smallest continent. In distance, the continent stretches about 3700 kilometres from north to south and 4000 kilometres from east to west, making it the sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil. The majority of Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year. The northern states of Australia are typically warm all the time, with the southern states experiencing cool winters but rarely sub-zero temperatures.
Australia has three levels of government – the federal Australian Government, the governments of the six states and two territories, and around 700 local government authorities. Australia has been a nation with a single national government since 1 January 1901. Although it is divided into states and territories which have their own state governments, all these states are united as one nation. Australia follows a Westminster system of government and law inherited from the British who originally colonised the country.
Australian society is made up of people from a rich variety of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, and this is a defining feature of modern Australian society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years. Most Australians are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants who arrived during the past two hundred years from more than 200 countries. The most commonly spoken language in Australia is English, and the most commonly practiced religion is Christianity, although foreign languages and other religions are also common.