Australia is the smallest continent and the biggest island in the world. It is situated between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. There are two great deserts in Australia: the Great Sandy Desert and the Great Victoria Desert. There can be also found 335 meters high Ayers Rock, the largest piece of rock in the world. Australia has two big rivers, the Murray and the Darling, and three great lakes: Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens, and Lake Gairdner. The highest mountalin is Mount Kosciusko (2,228 m) discovered by Paul Edmund de Strzelecki and Thaddeus Kosciusko in 1840.
Australia has many different kinds of climate: tropical in the north, continental in the interior, sub-tropical or temperate in the rest of the continent. South-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, has the highest incidence of bushfires in the world. In 1994 bushfires swept through New South Wales, destroying hundreds of homes in suburban Sydney. The Aborigines first arrived in Australia from somewhere in Asia at least 50,000 years ago and had occupied most of the continent by 30,000 years ago. By the time of the first European settlement the population grow to between 300,000 and 1 million. Now there are about 200,000 Aborigines and they mostly live in government reserves or missions. By Europeans was Australia discovered in the 17th century by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Later Captain James Cook explored the coasts of the islands and in 1770 landed in Botany Bay near Sydeny. The settlement of Australia began here on January 26, 1788, with the arrival of about 1,000 colonists from Britain; 750 of them were convicts. After coming to Australia, the first colonists usually bought some sheep, hired a few man, found a place in the bush they liked and built a house on “their” land. If there were any Aborigines there, they were frighened away, or shot. These early farmers were called squatters. In the second half of the 19th century many of them became rich and their farms were patroled by troopers. They employed migrant workers to work for them. Australia is an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations. The head of both states is the British monarch represented by the Governor-General.
Australia is a federal state consisting of six states and two territories: Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and Australian Capital Territory. Each state has its own government and its own capital city.
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