1Australia is an island. Australia is a country. Australia is a continent. No, wait; it's all three! It is an amazing island some call the "land down under," because it is completely down below the equator. Australia was the last continent to be discovered and explored by the Europeans. Lying in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Australia is the lowest, the flattest, and apart from Antarctica, the driest continent. It is the only country that is its own continent!
4Australia is a land of contrasts. The weather there often brings both floods and droughts. About two-thirds of the continent is desert. This region called the Outback is very hot and dry. The great Australian salt lake, Lake Eyre in southern Australia, stays dry most of the time. It fills completely only an average of twice in a century! Not many people live in the Outback. Half of the continent is home to only one percent of the population. There are, however, large sheep and cattle ranches called stations in the Outback. Sheep in Australia outnumber people ten to one!
3 Along the coasts, there are many beautiful beaches. Though the beaches are very picturesque, there are many dangers lurking in the pristine waters. These include strong currents that can pull swimmers out to deep water quickly, sharks that patrol the beaches for a bite of lunch, and box jellyfish which have the most poisonous sting and can be lethal to humans! Many of Australia’s beaches employ lifeguards to protect and rescue swimmers when these dangers are near. 4 One of Australia's greatest landforms is the Great Barrier Reef. This magnificent reef runs along the northeastern coast of the continent for more then 2,000 kilometers. Considered one of the world's natural wonders, it is the most extensive reef system and the biggest structure created by living organisms on earth (the only living organism visible from space). It is home to millions of species of aquatic plants and marine life and brings in millions of dollars in tourism every year. People who come to enjoy the reef can snorkel, scuba dive, and even take in a bird’s eye view of the reef and its inhabitants from a helicopter. The blue-green color of the reef and the beautiful fish make it a must see on your trip to Australia! 5 Australia is also a land of tropical rainforests, which makes the continent home to one million animal species. Many of these animals are found nowhere else in the world. Some of these creatures live in the bush, a lightly populated wilderness area outside of the cities.
Australia is in the ______ hemisphere. Southeastern Northeastern Southwestern Northwestern
The Outback covers what percentage of Australia's land area?
3/4 25 % 67% 2/3
1The first recorded sighting of Australia by Europeans was in 1606, when a Dutch ship saw the West coast of Cape York, which is the northernmost point of the Australian continent.
2 Prior to the Europeans, though, Australia had a rich history full of natural wonders and cultural beauty. Australia's original inhabitants, known as Australian Aborigines, have the longest continuous cultural history in the world with origins dating back to at least 40,000 years ago. The Aborigines were great hunters. Using dingoes (native dogs) and hunting tools such as the spear, woomera, and boomerang, the Aborigines hunted slow moving, large marsupials nearly to extinction.
3 By the time of European contact, the Aborigines had developed trade and cultural links with Asia and had formed into different communities, spreading across the whole continent into distinct and separate peoples. Each group had its own territory, tradition, belief, and language. The Aborigines' dominance of Australia, however, wouldn't last forever. Beginning in the late 1500s, Aborigines would find themselves increasingly marginalized in Australia and finally mistreated, robbed and all but ignored.
4 Outsiders began to encroach on Australia in the 16th century: Portuguese navigators were followed by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman and the enterprising English pirate William Dampier. Captain James Cook sailed the entire length of the eastern coast in 1770, stopping at Botany Bay on the way. After rounding Cape York, he claimed the continent for the British and named it New South Wales.
5 In 1779, Joseph Banks (a naturalist on Cook's voyage) suggested that Britain could solve overcrowding problems in its prisons by transporting convicts to New South Wales. In 1787, the First Fleet set sail for Botany Bay under the command of Captain Arthur Philip, who was to become the colony's first governor. The fleet was comprised of 11 ships, 750 male and female convicts, four companies of marines and supplies for two years.
6 Free settlers began to be attracted to Australia over the following decades, but it was the discovery of gold in the 1850s that changed the face of the colony. The huge influx of migrants and several large finds of gold boosted the economy and changed the colonial social structures forever. Aborigines were ruthlessly pushed off their tribal lands as new settlers took up land for farming or mining.
7 Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in the First and Second World Wars. After World War II, a flood of European immigrants, many of them non-British, came to Australia. The immigrants have since made an enormous contribution to the country, enlivening its culture and broadening its vision.
8Modern Australian citizens are as unique as the land on which they live. Descendants of Europeans share the land with native Australians--Aborigines--who lived on the island long before Europeans arrived. Many of the first Europeans to arrive in Australia were criminals from Europe who were banished to the island country, much like many of America's first citizens were European criminals banished to America.
9 The capital of Australia is Canberra. Like Canada and the United States, Australia is a political federation with a central government and six states. About eighty percent of the population lives on the eastern part of the continent and along the coastline. It is interesting, that unlike any other country on Earth, Australians do not share their continent with any other nation. The official language of Australia is English, although Aborigines speak dozens of native languages. Australians have many words that are unique, though. A barbeque is called a barbie, and a sweater is called a jumper. Australians are known for their friendly greeting, "G'day, mate!" A mate is a friend or buddy, and "good day" is a wish to have a good day.
10 Australians have worked hard, particularly in the last 200 years, to build grand cities from coast to coast. In the last hundred years, most Australians have come to live in or around big cities. Sydney, one of Australia's largest and well-known cities, hosted the Summer Olympics in 2000. The Olympic torch was even carried underwater by scuba divers near the Great Barrier Reef. During this event, athletes and visitors from all over the world were treated to the sights of modern Australia and the progress Australians have made in recent centuries. 11 While Australia can be considered one of the most disconnected countries in the world, it has become obvious that Australians--natives and relative newcomers--are dedicated to making Australia a powerful force in the world while maintaining its unique natural beauty.
The original inhabitants of Australia are --
A boomerang is --
A hunting tool
An Australian city