A U S T R A L I A.
I. Geography, climate
Australia is the Earth’s smallest continent in the world. It is situated between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. One part of Australia, Western Australia, is 11 times bigger than Great Britain.
The surface of Australia is mostly flat, only one twentieth of the whole continent is higher than 600 m above sea level. The Great Western Plateau occupies nearly half of the continent. In central Australia there are three deserts – the Great Sandy Deserts, the Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert.
The second part is the Central Eastern Lowland – a flat area lower than 100 m above sea level. It’s covered by tropic forests and savannah with occasional rivers, which flow into lakes such as Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens, Lake Gairdner. The eastern part is made up of lowland with the biggest river system – Murray and Darling rivers.
The third basic Australian area are the Australian Cordilleras which are along the eastern coats of Australia / and continue into Tasmania /. The highest mountain of the whole continent is Mt.Kosciusco – 2,230 m high.
Australia has many different types of climate: tropical in the north, continental in the interior, subtropical in the rest of the continent. The south-east has pleasantly warm summers and mild winters; the Australian Alps have snow almost half the year. A long line of mountains in the east, Great Dividing Range, divides the wet coast of eastern Australia from the dry lands in the centre. We can say that Australia is mostly hot and dry – in the west and the centre the temperature is 35 degrees in the summer months. In some parts of Australia it sometimes doesn’t rain for years.
Australia is not densely populated. (2.5/ 1 km2 ) It’s area is 7.7 million square km, the country has more than 19 million people, most of them live in the south and south-eastern parts of the country.
People are mostly of British origin , but there are about 228,000 Aborigines living in Australia. ( originally 750.000)
The biggest towns and cities are mostly along the coast of Australia. The capital Canberra / population 400.000 people/ lies on a special territory near the Australian Alps. Other towns:Sydney , Melbourne, Brisbane, Pert, Adelaide, Newcastle …
The principal religion is Christianity / Roman Catholics and Anglicans / .
III. Political system
Australia is a dominion belonging to the British Commonwealth of nations. The head of state is the British monarch represented by a governor general. The constitution came into the effect on January 1, 1901. Australia is a federal state .
As in the British system, the executive , comprising of the Prime Minister and cabinet, is drawn to the Federal Parliament. / The capital Canberra is the seat of Federal Parliament, but each of the 5 federal states has its own national parliament. Each state has also its own constitution, governor and legislative and judicial system / The capital is Canberra.
The Australian flag is a blue field with the British Union Jack in the upper left corner, a white federal star and the stars of the Southern cross.
The Australian economy is among the world’s soundest. It belongs to the G7 countries /the Group of Seven leading industrialized countries comprising Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States / The living standard is very high.
Australia is well-known for the mineral deposits there – coal, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite /! the first in the world-32 per cent of the world production / , other ores and metals / gold, silver, uranium, zinc, etc./. Raw materials are delivered to big towns where ships, car, planes, agricultural machines are produced .
The food industry ranks among the best in the world . Sheep have been important since the earliest days. Now 20 per cent of the world’s sheep live in Australia and 25 per cent of the world’s wool comes from here / it’s the greatest producer of wool in the world /. Cattle are found mostly in the drier parts of the north and centre, cattle stations cover one quarter of Australia. Australian farmers grow wheat in the south and sugar cane and tropical fuit in the tropical part of A. Southern parts of A. have fine orchards and vineyards. Australia is one of the greatest exporters of fruits , vegetables and wine.
Australia’s native inhabitans, the Aborigines, arrived in Australia at least 40,000 years ago. The first recorded sighting of Australia by Europeans was in 1606. Later voyagers include Abel Tasman , Wiliam Dampier…The wave of immigration began in 1788, after Captain James Cook had claimed New South Wales as a British colony in 1770. / He landed in Botany Bay near Sydney /
The gold rushes of the 1850s and 1890s contributed to the economical growth of A.
The idea of independence appeared in the 1st half of the 19th century. Queen Victoria proclaimed the Commonwealth of Australia to be recognized from January 1, 1901.
Australia played an important role in both World Wars. In the WWII Australian troops fought e.g. in the Near East. After this war A. started a period of expansion and developement.
VI. Animals, plants
The biggest of the 50 different kind of kangaroos is the red kangaroo.An adult can measure 2.4 m high. Sleepy grey koala is mammal and have a pouch. After six month here small koalas ride on their mother’s back. They live in eucalyptus trees. They eat one kilo of leaves each day. / The word coala means no water / . In the seas and rivers of A. we can find crocodiles that are five or six meters long. The echidna /ježura austrálska/ and platypus /vtákopysk/ are two very strange animals. They lay eggs but their sucklings drink milk. The echidna eats ants. The platypus swims well , but it can only stay under water for a few minutes. There are more than 800 kinds of bird in A. The emu , which is 2 metres tall, is the second largest bird in the world. It can run at 50 kilometres an hour. Dingo and tassmanian devil are another interesting animals. Eucalyptus trees are found everywhere in A.
One of the most beautiful things we can see in Australia is Uluru, also called Ayers Rock. It’s an enormous rock, alone in the middle of the desert south-west of Alice Springs. It’s 3 km long and 348 mhigh, but there are 2,100 m under the ground. Uluru is 600 million years old. The best time to see it is at the the end of the day, when its colour changes from yellow to gold, red and than purple. Uluru is a special place for Aborigines.
90% of the world’s opals comes from Coober Pedy , which is about 960 km north – west from Adelaide . It’s a very dry and hot place 40 – 50 °C. So most people live under the ground.
Sheep and cattle farmers live on isolated farms called stations in A. They contact their friends and bussines partners by means of radio. Their children cannot go to school. They listen, talk to their teachers and ask questions over the radio.They meet their teacher only once a year, at a summer camp. They use radio also to call the doctor – their doctor can come within one hour – by plane.