Driving Directions Australia
AUSTRALIA, the world’s smallest continental landmass, is a vast and sparsely populated country in the southern hemisphere, whose head of state is the British Sovereign. It consists of seven self-governing states: New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. The capital, Canberra, is situated in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The country divided into three main topographical regions: the high ground and plateau in the west, the interior lowlands in the central part of the country and the mountain ranges in the east. The most mountainous region is the Great Dividing Range which runs down the entire east coast. The majority of the country’s natural inland lakes are salt water and are the remnants of a huge inland sea. The longest rivers, the Murray and the Darling, drain the southeastern part of the central lowlands. The Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast is approximately 2,000 kilometers or 1,250 miles long and is the largest coral formation known to the world. Because of its great size, Australia’s climates range from tropical monsoon to cool temperate with large areas of desert.
Australia has tremendous diversity in its flora and fauna and has a monopoly on many species. Most of the native mammals are marsupials, such as the kangaroo, koala and the Tasmanian Devil (a carnivorous burrowing species). The monotremes are a very primitive form of egg-laying mammals, represented by the platypus and spiny anteater. Reptiles are also found, with crocodiles in the northern coastal swamps, lizards and numerous species of snakes, many of which are venomous. Other animals include the dingo, possum, and wombat and there are many exotic birds – cockatoos, parrots, kookaburras, and the emu. The plant life is equally varied, and the predominant tree is the eucalyptus of which there are several hundred species.
Australia’s wealth of resources led to it becoming an important world economic player, and it now occupies an important role in the region. Much of Australia’s wealth comes from agriculture, with huge sheep and cattle stations extending over large parts of the interior known as the Outback. Australia is the world’s leading producer of wool, particularly Merino wool. The cereal growing dominated by wheat. Mining continues to be an important industry which produces coal, natural gas, oil, gold, and iron ore, and Australia is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. The country’s manufacturing industry produces mainly consumer goods, such as foods and household articles.
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