Oceania's many islands are divided into three main groups
according to their plate tectonic formation. The first group
includes some of the largest islands such as New Zealand and
New Caledonia. They lie in the collision zone between the
Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate and consist of
younger rocks formed during the alpine fold. The islands
contain fragments of continental plates and intertwined
volcanic arches. They are characterized by mountain ranges
with highly folded and metamorphosed rocks, and considerable
The second group consists of young volcanic arches formed
over active subduction zones, where one ocean floor plate is
submerged below another. An example of this is the
archipelago of the Mariana Islands, formed where the Pacific
Plate is brought under the Philippine Plate.
The third group is made up of a large number of smaller
islands, especially on the inner part of the Pacific plate.
These islands are primarily caused by underwater volcanism,
caused by hot spots, i.e. point-rising heat flows from the
jacket. If volcanism ceases, a gradual subsidence occurs. As
the ocean floor plate moves across a prolonged hot spot, the
active volcanic islands will therefore have a long line of
extinct and "drowned" volcanic islands after them, such as
the archipelago of Hawaii. In the subtropical and tropical
parts of the Pacific, strong coral growth can occur at the
same rate as the subsidence, forming coral islands and
atolls over the drowning volcanic islands. At higher
latitudes, the islands turn into undersea mountains and
See airports of Australia and New Zealand on
Australia is a federal state of Oceania, a monarchy and
member of the Commonwealth. Australia is the world's 6th
largest state by area, and encompasses the entire Australian
continent (the real Australia) plus Tasmania. The country
has coast to the Indian Ocean to the west and to the Pacific
Ocean to the east. Closest neighboring countries are Papua
New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor in the north.
Australia manages a sector of Antarctica and several
smaller islands and archipelagos in the Pacific and Indian
The population is 23 470 118 inhabitants (2017). The
capital is Canberra.
The original population was indigenous to Aboriginal
people. Today, most inhabitants are of British origin. Most
of the continent is empty, and Australia is a nation of
urban dwellers. The economy is well developed and most of
the revenue comes from minerals, agricultural products and
Australia's geographical isolation has produced many
The origin of the country's name is Latin: Terra
Australis, Southern Norway.
Australia's national anthem is "Advance, Australia Fair"
(Forward, beautiful Australia).
Australia Geography and environment
The 25,760 kilometer long coast is relatively small. In
the western half of Australia there is a plateau landscape,
in the interior lies the largest continuous desert area on
Earth after the Sahara. The northern part of the country has
vegetation ranging from tropical rainforest to plains as
well as desert. To the east are tropical rainforests and
from the north to south the Great Dividing Range mountain
range. Off the northeast coast is the Great Barrier Reef,
the world's longest coral reef.
There are few large rivers, the furthest is Murray (2570
km) with the inlets Darling and Murrumbidgee. The largest
lake is Lake Eyres.
Plant and wildlife have developed many species that are
unique to Australia, including dingo dogs, marsupials
kangaroo and koala, and sewer animals, mammals and antlers.
Several animals have been introduced and have spread widely
(rabbit, camel). Among peculiar bird species are the black
swan, emu, lyre tail and laughing bird. More than half of
the snake species are poisonous. In tropical regions there
are crocodiles in the rivers. In the interior there is shrub
and desert vegetation. 230 of the planet's 232 species of
eucalyptus trees grow in Australia.
Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent. In
the north, the climate is tropical with rainy season in
summer (October - April) and dry winter. In the southeast
and far southwest (Perth) the climate is subtropical and
temperate; in the interior there is negligible rainfall.
Australia People and society
It is the densest population in the southeast, with the
largest cities Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and in the
southwest (Perth). Otherwise, there are large populous
areas. About 89 percent of the population lives in urban
The Constitution is broadly similar to the British one.
The Constitution states freedom of religion and does not
allow state church. The largest denominations are Anglican,
Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian.
The language is English with Australian character.
Australia State and politics
Australia is a federal state divided into six states and
two federal territories. The states are New South Wales,
Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and
Tasmania; the territories are the Australian Capital
Territory and the Northern Territory. The country manages
several islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and a
sector of the Antarctic.
Formally, the power lies with the British monarch
represented by a Governor General; this is assisted by an
executive council of which all Ministers are automatically
The Federal Parliament has two chambers: The Senate has
76 senators elected for six years, the House of
Representatives has 148 members elected for three years by
election in one-man constituencies. Each state, apart from
Queensland, has a governor and a parliament with an upper
and lower house, a government led by a prime minister and an
executive council. From 2010-13, Julia Gillard from the
Australian Labor Party was Prime Minister of Australia. As
of 2013, Tony Abbott of the center-right party Liberal Party
of Australia is Prime Minister.
The military service is voluntary. The defense consists
of army, a navy and an air force. Australia (2012) has the
world's 13th largest defense budget. Australia is a member
of, inter alia the United Nations (since 1945) and most of
its specialized agencies, as well as the World Bank, World
Trade Organization, the Commonwealth, the OECD, APEC and
Pacific Islands Forum. Australia has participated in
international peacekeeping operations in several continents.
The indigenous people immigrated from Indonesia more than
40,000 years ago. The first European to explore a little of
Australia was the Spanish captain Luiz Vaez de Torres,
who sailed between New Guinea and Northern Australia in
1606. The east coast was explored and the country taken into
British possession by James Cook in 1770.
From 1788 to 1868 it was a British penal colony in Botany
Bay. Voluntary immigration across the continent increased in
the 19th century. A gold rush between 1851 and 1861 tripled
the population. In 1901, Australia gained autonomy and
dominion status, and the country was organized as a federal
state. The country participated in both world wars on the UK
side and on the US side in the Korean War and the Vietnam
Australia achieved full independence in 1931. Indigenous
people gained ownership of traditional settlement areas in
1977. In recent years Australia has played a greater
political role in Asia and the Pacific. In 1999, 55 percent
of citizens voted against Australia becoming a republic. In
2008, the authorities apologized for past wrongs committed
against the indigenous population.
Australia Economy and business
Australia's economy is among the world's 20 largest in
terms of GDP.
Agriculture is modern, with large operating units.
Australia is the world's largest producer of wool and the
world's largest exporter of beef. The export of wheat is
Minerals, petroleum, coal and gold make up a quarter of
Australia's export value. There is a great deal of mining,
including lead, nickel, tantalum, uranium and zinc, and
there are large deposits of diamonds, iron ore and manganese
ore, ilmenite, zircon, bauxite and cobalt. Australia
accounts for 95 per cent of the world's opal production.
The iron and steel industry is considerable, and there is
a large production of food, textiles, machinery and cars.
The chemical industry and wood processing are extensive.
Most exports go to Japan, China, South Korea, the United
States and New Zealand. In recent years, tourism has become
a significant source of income.
Australia Knowledge and culture
Australia has more than 60 daily newspapers. Most are
regional, the only ones with national spread are The
Australian and Australian Financial Review.
In addition to the state-run Australian Broadcasting
Company (ABC), there are many commercial radio and
television stations. Radio and television are widely used in
Australia has highly developed science and technology
An independent Australian literature developed in the
19th century. Well-known postwar authors are Martin Boyd,
Xavier Herbert, Christina Stead, Nobel Laureate Patrick
White and Morris West.
At least 30,000 years old cave paintings show that
Australian indigenous peoples developed one of the world's
oldest civilizations. Since 1788 British Western culture has
dominated. In the 1940s, Australian expressionism developed
with renowned painters such as Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale
and Sidney Nolan. In the post-war period, Australian art has
drawn the most inspiration from American art.
With the exception of Aboriginal music, Australian music
is based on English traditions. Well-known bands and artists
today include AC/DC, Bee Gees, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue.
Australia has a rich folk heritage.
Australia is today considered one of the world's leading
film-producing countries. Well-known actors are Russell
Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.