Australia is an island continent lying southeast of Asia between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean on the east. The national capital city is Canberra and official name of Australia is the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia is the 6th largest country and the smallest continent. The first Australians were dark-skinned people known today as Aborigines. They have lived here for at least 40, 000 years before the first white settlers arrived. In 1770 Captain Cook discovered the eastern coast of Australia and landed in Botany Bay. Britain settled Australia as a convict colony in 1788 and it grew up into the Australia's largest city Sydney. Since the colonization the total number of Aborigines has declined. They live in the deserts and savannah or reservations. Today the vast majority of Australians are white. As a country has a warm and sunny climate, the people love outdoor sports and outdoor living in general.
Australia is a dry thinly populated land. The south-eastern region has the most people and the largest cities - Sydney and Melbourne lies here too. The huge interior of Australia is mostly desert or dry grasslands and has few settlements. The country as a whole averages only 2 persons per km2. Australia's famous for its vast open spaces, bright sunshine, numbers of sheep and cattle, and unusual wildlife. Kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, platypuses, lizards, dingoes, emus are only a few of the many unusual animals that live here.
The main products of Australian agriculture are apples, oranges, grapes, potatoes, rice, beef cattle, sheep and lamb, chickens, wheat, oats, barley, sugar cane, dairy products. In forestry are important eucalyptus and pine timber. Mining plays an important role in the country's export trade. There are coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, lead and silver mining. Manufacturing of chemicals, iron, steel and other metals, textiles, shoes are on high level. Australia trades most with Japan and the U. S. A. The commonwealth is federal of 6 states and 2 territories. The 6 states are: Western Australia, Southern Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queens land, and Tasmania. The 2 territories are the Australia's Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Each of the 6 states and 2 territories has its own government. Australia has a parliamentary system of government. Canberra is the seat of the Federal Parliament, which consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations since 1901. Australia is a constitutional monarchy like Great Britain. Formally the head of the state is the Queen of Britain, represented by the Governor General. The Queen appoints the Governor General on the recommendation of the Australian Prime Minister. His role, like the Queen's, is symbolic. The head of government and the real head of the state is the Prime Minister. Australia is mostly plain; there are mountains in the east and south. The highest point is Mount Kosciusko in the Australian Alps. There is very dry in the east, too little rain. In Australia there are two big deserts, namely, the Great Sandy Desert and Great Victoria Desert. The country has two big rivers: the Murray and the Darling.