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Australia - Overview
Australia is located in the southern hemisphere and is officially an island, although due to its size is hardly ever referred to as such. The location of the country means that there are no close neighbours although the islands of New Zealand are the closest and the two countries have close ties. The country has three different time zones because of its size. New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland all operate on Eastern Standard Time (EST). The central states of South Australia and the Northern Territory operate on Central Standard Time (CST). Finally, Western Standard Time covers Western Australia. Australia is a minimum of 8 hours ahead of GMT, depending upon where you are in the country and the time of year.
The vast majority of the population live in and around the major cities of Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide and around the coastal regions. It is estimated that more than 80% of the population of the country live close to the coast. Towns inland tend to be very small, in agricultural, mining and less commercial areas. In addition it is estimated that not quite 3% of the population have an aboriginal background and those that do are from different areas of the country and different tribes.
More than a quarter of the population was born in another country and Australia is extremely popular for those looking to start a new life. Many of these originated in the UK, although there are large numbers of people there from New Zealand, Italy and other parts of Europe, although expats from other parts of the world are now beginning to settle in Australia.
There are six states in Australia. These are Queensland, New South Wales (NSW), South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria. In addition there are two territories, the Australian Capital Territory, also known as ACT and the Northern Territory. Even the smallest of these covers a large area of land and is home to many beaches and national parks. Each of the territories and states has its own government and own laws, although each is also covered by national government and law.
Australia is thought to be home to more than 7000 beaches and is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to precious stones. 95% of the world’s opals come from Australia and the average salary paid to miners is one of the highest in the country. The country has one of the strongest economies in the world and this is one of the main reasons for the high levels of immigration.
Of all the continents, Australia is one of the flattest. There are some mountain ranges but the vast majority of the centre of the country is flat. The Great Barrier Reef is a coral reef that has the distinction of being the world’s largest. It is one of the natural wonders of the world and can be seen from space. It is located along the north east coast of the country and extends for more than 2000 kilometres. Due to the climate, Australia is also one of the driest countries in the world and there are large areas of desert, particularly in the centre of the country.
The desert areas are home to numerous wild animals including dangerous species, such as venomous snakes and dingoes. There are also many animals for which Australia is particularly well-known such as the koala, kangaroo and the wombat. In addition to the deserts and mountains, Australia has rainforests which are also home to unique species of plants and animals.
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