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|This article was translated by Duolingo. There is an ongoing discussion about possible copyright issues.|
| Official languages
| 7,692,024 km2|
Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
| Time zone
| (UTC+8 to +10.5)|
Australia which is also known as the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in Oceania.
Australia includes[edit | edit source]
- Mainland Australia, considered as the largest island in the world or a continent on its own (sometimes called "continent-island");
- Other islands in the Indian Ocean, the Coral Sea or the Southen Ocean;
- A large Antarctic territory.
The capital of Australia is Canberra. Its official language is English. The currency used in Australia is the Australian Dollar. The national anthem of Australia is Advance Australia Fair. It is a very wealthy country.
Geography[edit | edit source]
Australia view from the sky
Australia is a huge country, the sixth largest country in the world with its 7,686,850 km², which is almost bigger than Europe.
The majority of the country is covered in arid desert; the only habitable areas are the coasts, notably the Eastern coast.
The stereotypical red colour of the Australian soil is due to its high concentration of iron (as a matter of fact, it's a problem for agriculture, because at a too high concentration, iron poisons plants).
Organisation of the Country[edit | edit source]
The capital of the country is Canberra, but the largest city is Sydney.
The country is divided into states and territories. see Wikipedia's article: States and Territories of Australia
The country's Queen, the same of that of the United Kingdom, is Elizabeth II, does not govern the country. The Australians elected a Prime Minister who was, since June 2010, Julia Gillard (she replaced Kevin Rudd) The Queen is represented in Australia by a governor general, whom she appoints with the help of the Australian prime minister; his role is to mediate between Australia and the sovereignty. The real holders of the executive power are the ministers led by the Prime Minister, leader of the majority party in Parliament. The legislative power is given to bicameral Parliament ( a Senate of 76 senators ( 12 per state, 2 per territory) elected for a six years term and a House of Representatives (150 members) elected for a three years term). The House of Representatives can be dissolved by the general government on order of Prime Minister. Australia is divided in States, each having a bicameral Parliament (except Queensland) and a government. In addition, Australia controls some outer islands such as Cocos Islands or the Coral Sea Islands. The outer islands are headed by an administrator appointed by the Australian government assisted by a Territorial Council elected by the islanders to guide the administrator.
History[edit | edit source]
Australia was discovered in 1606 by Europeans, but it was already inhabited by Aborigines or indigenous Australians and known by Asian merchants that traded with the Aboriginal nomads of this vast island. Not focused on agriculture much, the Aborigines lived mostly off hunting and fishing. They had an animistic religion (worship of spirits). They believed in a unique god, the Dream Time, which was for them the energy that maintained life in the universe. The Dream time is aided by a myriad of lower spirits, of which the most powerful is the Rainbow Serpent, creator of the human race by command of God. Benevolent, he can get mad and punished humanity by a flood if she would go into malice. The Aboriginals also fear malicious spirits, which have to serve a lizard-human species, a very evil creature.
Colonization[edit | edit source]
Initially, Europeans were not very interested in conquering an island that they considered too poor. But, ultimately, the United Kingdom colonized it in 1803 out of fear that the French might beat them to it. At first, Australia was a kind of penal colony where the British government sent convicts, but in the late nineteenth century, Australia was administered by perceptive governors who fashioned a wealthy colony. Of course, the Aborigines refused British oppression, and some took up arms against the English. To put an end to the aboriginal anger, Governor Henry Parker proposed to the Parliament to make Australia a federal region. After much debate, the long-awaited law was passed in 1901: from then on Australia would be a federal region of the United Kingdom.
The Commonwealth[edit | edit source]
The Australian government from 1901 to 1929 endorsed an intense economic and social policy. But when came the crisis in 1930, the country which enjoyed one of the highest living standards in the world despite its losses during the First World War suffered the brunt of the crisis which provoked the dropping the price of wheat and wool. During this period, one out of three Australian was unemployed. During World War II, Australia sided with the United States, which earned it several bombings. But despite the government's promises, the natives continue to be discriminated against and the government systematically put half blood children in orphanages. After the war, Australia managed to recover economically thanks to its natural resources. In 1967, Aboriginal obtained Australian citizenship. In 1968, the government created a National Aboriginal Conference, composed of 35 elected members in charge of representing the interests of Aborigines to the government. In 1999, a referendum suggested that people wanted to keep the monarchy. But, there are also supporters of the independent republic (like the former Prime Minister Paul Keating).
Demographics[edit | edit source]
The inhabitants of Australia are called Australians. There are approximately 20 million habitants in Australia.
Australians mainly live in large cities such as Sydney (4.5 million inhabitants), Melbourne (3.7 million), Perth (1.5 million) or also Brisbane. Canberra, the political capital, only has 0.3 million inhabitants.
Economy[edit | edit source]
The currency of the country is the Australian Dollar. 15 Australian Dollars are noted as 15 AUD. As of September 2011, €1 was worth 1.37 AUD, and 1 AUD was worth €0.74.
For a long time, Australia had an economy almost entirely based on the export of agricultural products (primary sector). There is about 150 million sheep. It mostly sells mutton meat to the Muslim countries, wool, fruits and vegetables.
Mining (primary sector) is also very important: it does not directly employ many people, but with money it creates, it supports indirectly millions of Australians living (iron, gold mined in West, uranium, opal ...). It has been said in jest, that this country was a developed country with the economy of an undeveloped country.
Nowadays, there are more and more service or information technology (computing) companies (tertiary sector). Therefore, the economy is very particular: strong primary and tertiary sectors, but nearly no secondary sector (industry...).
Australia is very well situated for trade with Asia and is now a very prosperous country (mostly thanks to China's economic miracle). For example, it benefits of a strong demand for stainless steel from China (to build factories) and, as its mineral reserves are huge, there is a shortage of labor work in some parts of the country in the mines. A machine operator in mines is hired to Aus $40 an hour (or more than 20 € per hour!).
Fauna and flora[edit | edit source]
Due to its geographical isolation, this country has unique fauna and flora. There are thousands of endemic species, the most common of which are below.
Wildlife[edit | edit source]
![Article a lire](http://download.vikidia.org/vikidia/fr/images/thumb/2/27/System-search.png/20px-System-search.png)Article to read : Fauna of Australia
The eucalyptus is a very common tree with a distinct smell (the smell of chewing-gum) of which the koalas feed, a species in danger of extinction The eucalyptus is psychoactive for humans (it influences the brain) The koalas are more or less impervious. They sleep more than 20 hours a day: this time is necessary for their brain to detoxify
The kangaroo feeds with grass like sheep and, because the farmers have developed huge meadows for their livestock, the kangaroo is swarming species. It is a very gracious animal, that moves by jumping (jumps of 2-3m high sometimes) on its back legs and is very fast (a speed of 60 km/h for several kilometers.
There exist many different species of kangaroos, but all live in Australia. Before the arrival of the Europeans, there existed kangaroos over 3 meters tall, but every single one of them have been killed during hunting parties.
This is a kind of ostrich that is, with the kangaroo, the symbol of the country.
It is a nocturnal animal, shy and almost elusive. It is among the only mammal that lay eggs. The platypus is provided with venomous prickles, the beak of a duck, a tail of a beaver and the legs of an otter.
Flora[edit | edit source]
Omnipresent, this tree feeds and shelters many animals. The red gum, a species of eucalyptus, supplied a wood of very good quality, very hard and red.
The yellow colour of the mimosa stands out very clear in the scenery of the country, besides it is a colour picked up by the national sport teams.
List of states and territories[edit | edit source]
- Australia's States and Territories include:
- Ashmore and Cartier Islands
- Australian Antarctic Territory
- Mawson Station
- Australian Capital Territory
- Christmas Island
- Flying Fish Cove
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- West Island
- Coral Sea Islands
- Willis Island
- Heard Island and McDonald Islands
- Atlas Cove
- Jervis Bay Territory
- Jervis Bay Village
- New South Wales
- Norfolk Island
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
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