The geographic characteristics of Commonwealth of Australia. The history of human habitation of territory. The population in the country. The form of government and its branches. Climate and landscapes. Religion and the national language. Australian arts.

Рубрика География и экономическая география
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 28.07.2015
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The name "Australia" is derived from the Latin `Australis', meaning "the Southern". Legends of an "unknown land of the south" (terra australis incognita) dating back to Roman times were commonplace in medieval geography, but they were not based on any actual knowledge of the continent. In 1521 Spaniards were among the first Europeans to sail the Pacific Ocean. The first use of the word "Australia" in English was in 1625, in "A note of Australia del Espiritu Santo, written by Master Hakluyt", published by Samuel Purchas in Hakluytus Posthumus. The Dutch adjectival form Australische was used by Dutch East India Company officials in Batavia to refer to the newly discovered land to the south in 1638. "Australia" was used in a 1693 translation of a novel. The name "Australia" was popularised by the 1814 work A Voyage to Terra Australis by the navigator Matthew Flinders

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the mainland of the world's smallest continent, the major island of Tasmania, and numerous other islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Neighboring countries include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.

For around 40,000 years before European settlement commenced in the late 18th century, the Australian mainland and Tasmania were inhabited by around 250 individual nations of indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the immediate north, and European discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, the eastern half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales, founded on 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in the following years; the continent was explored, and during the 19th century another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The population is just over 21.3 million, with approximately 60 % concentrated in and around the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. The nation's capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).


Human habitation of Australia is estimated to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago. These first Australians may have been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians; they may have arrived via land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now South-East Asia. Most of these people were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.

Lieutenant James Cook charted the east coast of Australia on HM Bark Endeavour, claiming the land for Great Britain in 1770. This replica was built in Fremantle in 1988; photographed in Cooktown Harbor where Cook spent seven weeks.

The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland was made by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, who sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606. During the 17th century, the Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines of what they called New Holland. In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast of Australia, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain.

Cook's discoveries prepared the way for establishment of a new penal colony. The British Crown Colony of New South Wales began a settlement at Port Jackson by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January 1788. This date was later to become Australia's national day, Australia Day. Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, was settled in 1803 and became a separate colony in 1825. The United Kingdom formally claimed the western part of Australia in 1829. Separate colonies were created from parts of New South Wales: South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859. The Northern Territory was founded in 1911 when it was excised from South Australia. South Australia was founded as a "free province"-that is, it was never a penal colony. Victoria and Western Australia were also founded "free" but later accepted transported convicts. The transportation of convicts to the colony of New South Wales ceased in 1848 after a campaign by the settlers.

Australia has six states and two major mainland territories. There are also lesser territories that are under the administration of the federal government.

The states are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. The two major mainland territories are the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).


The Australia National Flag has blue, red and white colors in it.

The Australia National Flag has three parts

· The Union Jack (British flag) in the top left corner

· The 'Star of Federation' in the bottom left corner and

· The Southern Cross in the right half of the flag

Australia Day Flag. Or in Australia they also celebrate Australia day flag raising ceremony as it is done in 2007 Australia day flag raising ceremony.

The Union Jack reminds that the first colonization was by Britain. In the beginning Australia was a punitive colony. The star of federation is represented by a seven pointed star. The number of stars increased to seven. Each star represents the states. The extra star is for the territories of Australia. The Southern Cross represents a constellation which can be seen from the country of Australia. Flags Act 1953 describes the Australia Flag. The Australian Flag has to be (3.6 x 1.8m) in dimensions.

The positions of the stars are as follows.

· Commonwealth star - centered in lower heave,

· Alpha - directly below center fly 1/6 up from base edge,

· Beta - 1/4 of the way towards left and 1/16 up from the center fly,

· Gamma - straight above center fly 1/6 down from top edge,

· Delta - 2/9 of the way right and 31/240 up from the center fly,

· Epsilon - 1/10 of the way right and 1/24 down from the center fly.

The special occasions when the citizens are expected to fly the Australia Flag are:

· 25 April: Anzac Day (1915);

· Second Monday in June to celebrate the Queen's Birthday;

· 3 September: Australian National Flag Day;

· 11 November: Remembrance Day;

· 1 January: Anniversary of foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia in (1901);

· 26 January: Australia Day-Anniversary of First Fleet arrival;

· Second Monday in March: Commonwealth of Nations Day.

The Australia National Flag is a symbol of pride for all its citizens.


Australia is a relatively new nation. Australians of European ancestry have developed a culture and attitudes that are distinct from those of their forebears. They are characterized as outgoing people, remarkably open in conversation, and amiable and easygoing. They are proud of the country they have created through hard work, and can be scathing about attitudes or behavior they consider to be lacking in toughness. They believe in rewards for people according to their abilities, and in putting disappointments to one side and getting on with the future. They put great value on friendship, and help friends whenever possible. As a result of their colonial past, they have a love-hate relationship with the English, whom they call "poms." Australians have a passion for sport and leisure. The people in Australia are well-known for their attitude towards their lives. The people of Australia believe in living their life to the fullest. It is this motivation which makes Australians a fun loving, courageous, talented, devoted and an adventurous nation. The Australians are also known for their patriotism.

The historical developments in Australia made it a land of diverse people and culture. The European settlements in the country wiped away the aboriginal civilization to a considerable extent reducing them to a scrimpy figure of only 2 % of the population. It was in the 1960s that the Government of Australia felt the need of their revival and took adequate measures for their better living. The population of Australia still remains predominantly European with a small percentage of Asians.

The Australians have excelled in different fields of literature, art and sport. Among the famous people of Australia are Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia, a host of noble laureates like Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet (for medicine), John Cornforth (Chemistry), John Carew Eccles (medicine) and Sir Howarth Florey (medicine) among many others. Patrick White has bagged the Noble Prize in literature. Australia is the land of great cricketers. Starting with Sir Donald Bradman, there are many down the line Allan Border, Dennis Lille, Jeff Thomson and Steve Waugh. The country has shown remarkable performance in the field of hockey also. In different meets like the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games Australia has achieved great feat.

The "aboriginals" too have come up carving out a place for themselves in the society. The notable among them are Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal Senator, Albert Namatzira, the famous painter and Katherine Freeman, the Olympic athlete among many others.

About 22 % of the population is under age 15 (and about one-third is under age 20), while the proportion of those over age 65 (12 %) is low for the developed world.

About 90 % of the people are European. Approximately 60 % of the white population have British or Irish roots, but other Australians are from a variety of nationalities, including Italian, Croatian, Chinese, Indian, South American, and Greek (Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside Greece). About one-fifth of the population was not born in Australia. Aborigines make up 1.5 % of the population.


The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional democracy based on a federal division of powers. The form of government used in Australia is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Australia, a role that is distinct from her position as monarch of the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented by the Governor-General at federal level and by the Governors at state level. Although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, these are normally exercised only on the advice of the Prime Minister. The most notable exercise of the Governor-General's reserve powers outside the Prime Minister's direction was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the constitutional crisis of 1975. australia geographic climate art

There are three branches of government:

· The legislature: the Commonwealth Parliament, comprising the Queen, the Senate, and the House of Representatives; the Queen is represented by the Governor-General, who by convention acts on the advice of his or her Ministers.

· The executive: the Federal Executive Council (the Governor-General as advised by the Executive Councilors); in practice, the councilors are the Prime Minister and Ministers of State.

· The judiciary: the High Court of Australia and other federal courts. Appeals from Australian courts to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom ceased when the Australia Act was passed in 1986.

Climate and landscapes

By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid lands commonly known as the outback. Australia is the flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils, and is the driest inhabited continent. Only the south-east and south-west corners of the continent have a temperate climate. Most of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline. The landscapes of the northern part of the country, with a tropical climate, consist of rainforest, woodland, grassland, mangrove swamps, and desert. The climate is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the El Niсo southern oscillation, which is correlated with periodic drought, and the seasonal tropical low pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia.

Climate change has become an increasing concern in Australia in recent years. Rainfall in Australia has increased over the past century, both nationwide and for all four quadrants of the nation. Despite this beneficial effect of climate change, water restrictions are currently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localized drought.


English is the national language. Australian English is a major variety of the language, with its own distinctive accent and vocabulary, but less internal dialectal variation (apart from small regional pronunciation and lexical variations) than either British or American English. Grammar and spelling are largely based on those of British English, some of which have found their way into standard English. According to the 2001 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for around 80 % of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Chinese (2.1 %), Italian (1.9 %), and Greek (1.4 %).


Australia has no state religion. In the 2006 census, 64 % of Australians were listed as Christian of any denomination, including 26 % as Roman Catholic and 19 % as Anglican. "No religion" (which includes humanism, atheism, agnosticism, and rationalism) accounted for 19 %; and a further 12 % declined to answer or did not give a response adequate for interpretation. About 5 % were of non-Christian religions.

Large cities of Australia

Largest cities in Australia (2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate)


City Name



City Name

































Gold Coast-Tweed


















Australia has a long history of visual arts, starting with the cave and bark paintings of its indigenous peoples. From the time of European settlement, a common theme in Australian art has been the Australian landscape, seen in the works of Arthur Streeton, Arthur Boyd and Albert Namatjira, among others. Australian Aboriginal music, dance and art have a palpable influence on contemporary Australian visual and performing arts. Australia has an active tradition of music, ballet and theatre; many of its performing arts companies receive public funding through the federal government's Australia Council. There is a symphony orchestra in each capital city, and a national opera company, Opera Australia, first made prominent by the renowned diva Dame Joan Sutherland; Australian music includes classical, jazz, and many popular music genres.

Australian literature has also been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, captured the experience of the Australian bush. The character of colonial Australia, as embodied in early literature, resonates with modern Australia and its perceived emphasis on egalitarianism, mateship, and anti-authoritarianism. In 1973, Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the only Australian to have achieved this; he is recognized as one of the great English-language writers of the twentieth century.

Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania and other surrounding islands. Tasmania has an estimated population of 494,520 (March 2008) and an area of 68,401 square kilometers.

The state is named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first reported European sighting of the island on 24 November 1642. He named the island Anthony van Diemen's Land after his sponsor Anthony van Diemen, the Governor of the Dutch East Indies. The name was later shortened to Van Diemen's Land by the British. It was officially renamed in honor of its first European discoverer on 1 January 1856.

Tasmania is promoted as the Natural State and the "Island of Inspiration" owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Formally, almost 37 % of Tasmania is in reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 364 kilometers long from the northernmost point to the southernmost point and 306 kilometers (190 mi) from west to east.

The state capital and largest city is Hobart, which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy and City of Clarence. Other major population centers include Launceston in the north and Devonport and Burnie in the northwest.

Tasmania is a rugged island of temperate climate, and was considered so similar in some ways to pre-industrial England that it was referred to by some English colonists as 'a southern England'.

Tasmania has been volcanically inactive in recent geological times and has rugged mountain ranges over much of its land area.

The most mountainous regions are the Central Highlands and southwestern areas, which cover most of the central, west and southwest parts of the state. The Midlands in central east Tasmania is fairly flat by comparison and is predominantly used for agriculture, although various types of farming activity can be seen all around the state.

The West Coast has a high rainfall which powers most of the hydroelectric projects, and its earnings from mineral activities are significant. The West Coast Range has some of the better known West Coast mines on its slopes - notably the Mount Lyell mine.

The Southwest region, in particular, is densely forested, the National Park holding some of the last temperate rainforests in the world. Management of such an isolated and inaccessible area has been made easier and more reliable with the advent of satellite imaging.

Most of the population live near the coastal rivers - the Derwent in the south, and the Tamar and Mersey Rivers in the north.

Tasmania has extremely diverse vegetation, from the heavily grazed grassland of the dry Midlands to the tall evergreen eucalypt forest, alpine heathlands and large areas of cool temperate rainforests and moorlands in the rest of the state. Many flora species are unique to Tasmania, and some are related to species in South America and New Zealand through ancestors which grew on the super continent of Gondwana, 50 million years ago.

Tasmania is also home to some of the tallest and oldest trees of the world. While individual Huon Pines are believed to be more than 2,000 years old, which is impressive by itself, a stand of male Huon Pines at Mount Read has maintained itself by vegetative reproduction and is estimated to be more than 10,000 years old. [9] The tallest trees in Australia are found in the Styx Valley and Mountain Ashes on the island are more than 90 meters (300 ft) tall.

The Tasmanian Devil is a marsupial found exclusively on the island of Tasmania. The size of a small dog but stocky and muscular, the Tasmanian Devil is characterized by black fur with white patches. It has a loud and disturbing screech-like growl, possesses a vicious temperament and is predominantly a scavenger. The Devil survived European settlement and was considered widespread and common throughout Tasmania until recently.

Like a lot of wildlife, fast vehicles on roads are a problem for Tasmanian Devils, which are often killed while feeding on other road-killed animals such as wallabies. Many birds of the Australian mainland and surrounding oceans are also found in Tasmania. Tasmania has 12 endemic bird species.

In order to foster tourism, the state government encourages or supports several different annual events in and around the island. The best known of these would be the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, starting on Boxing Day in Sydney and usually arriving at Constitution Dock in Hobart around three to four days later, during the Taste of Tasmania, an annual food and wine festival.

Other events include the road rally Targa Tasmania which attracts world-class rally drivers and is staged all over the state, over five days. Rural or regional events include Agfest, a three-day agricultural show held at Carrick (just west of Launceston) in early May; and the Royal Hobart Show and Royal Launceston Show, both held in October annually. Music events held in Tasmania include the Falls Festival at Marion Bay (a Victoria event now held in both Victoria and Tasmania on New Year's Eve), and the Southern Roots Festival held in Hobart each Easter. A recent addition to the state has been the 10 Days on the Island arts festival.

Tourism in Australia

Tourism in Australia is a large sector of the economy. In 2003/04, the tourism industry represented 3.9 % of Australia's GDP at a value of approximately A$32 billion to the national economy. It should be noted that tourism's share of GDP has been slightly decreasing over recent years. 1.1 % of total exports of goods and services.

All visitors to Australia, apart from New Zealanders, require advance permission to enter the country. For most countries, a full visa is required, but holders of certain passports from some OECD and some East Asian countries are able to apply for the simpler Electronic Travel Authority which enables one to apply and be granted a visa.

Australians are big domestic travelers as well, with a profusion of seaside resort towns in every state (many located on or near good surfing beaches), mountain retreats, plentiful national parks, rivers, fishing locations, wine growing regions, as well as domestic visitation of the major tourist spots.

Domestic tourism peaks during the Australian school holidays.

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