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  1. 1. The Land Down Under By Melissa Kennedy
  2. 2. My country is Australia. Australia’s full name is Commonwealth of Australia but it is shortened to Australia. It is the smallest and flattest of all the seven continents. It is the largest island. It is the driest continent that is inhabited. Australia is the only continent that lies in the Southern hemisphere. All the other continents have all or part of them in the Northern hemisphere. The capital of Australia is Canberra. Australia is the sixth largest nation in the world. Australia’s population in 2009 was 21.3 million people. The population density is 2.7 per square kilometer. Australia’s area is 7,686,850 square kilometers and 2,967,909 square miles. Australia has 6 states and 2 territories. The highest point in Australia is Mount Kosciuszko at 2228 meters tall. Its lowest point is Lake Eyre at 15 meters below sea level. The Australian flag is blue with the British Union Jack is the upper left corner. It has six stars on it. Australia has three time zones: Australian Eastern Standard Time, Australian Central Standard Time, and Australian Western Standard Time. The first people to live on Australia were called Aborigines. They traveled from southeast Asia and the Torres Strait islands. Many years later, Europeans discovered Australia. A man named James Cook claimed it for Britain in the mid 18th century. Eighteen years later, a ship sailed from Europe to Australia with a load of mostly convicts to be placed in a penal colony. Here are some interesting facts for you: Australia is home to more than 1,500 species of spiders. Also, 95% of all the world’s opals are mined in Australia. The biggest pure-gold nugget was found in Australia in 1869. It weighed 71 kg. In Australia, there are 6,000 species of flies. 95% of Australia’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. Did you know that Australia is the second highest user of water in the world? It is. Between 1803 and 1992 650 people were killed by lightning in Australia. The monetary unit is the Australian dollar. The largest cities are
  3. 3. Sydney with 4,250,100 people, Melbourne with 3,610,800 people, Brisbane with 1,545,700 people, Perth with 1,375,200 people, and Adelaide with 1,087,600 people. Australia’s government is a Constitutional Monarchy. It gained its independence from the U.K. in 1901. The head of state is HM Queen Elizabeth the Second who is represented locally by Governor-General Quentin Bryce. The head of government is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd since 2007. The prime minister nominates candidates from the Parliament that are sworn in by the Governor- General to serve as government ministers. Australia’s government is different from our own. This is how it works. The Queen of England acts as head of state and she appoints a Governor-General that represents her. The citizens elect the Parliament that enacts laws. The Parliament selects the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister acts as head of the government. He reports to the Queen. Australia’s culture has been influenced by the aborigines and the British soldiers. Its isolation and unusual animals and plants have also helped to develop its culture. The aborigines describe the creation of their land through traditional stories called dreamtime stories. They explain the lives of their ancestors and their relationship to the land. Australians enjoy outdoor sports and recreation. They like team games such as rugby, cricket, and Australian rules football. They also enjoy sun and surf activities. They have world-class athletes in tennis, swimming, and golf. Around 85% of all Australians live in cities in the southeastern quarter of Australia. Most Australians live in single-family homes that have a small garden. In Australia, some children live miles from a school. They do their lessons by listening to an instruction broadcast over a two-way radio several times a week. They
  4. 4. have a private lesson over the radio with the teacher at least once a week. Their assignments come in the mail. They complete them and send them back. In Australia, about 80% of school students go on the higher education. Children start school at age 5 and remain in school until age 15. Australia follows the three-tier model that includes primary education. Primary education is then followed by secondary education and then tertiary education (universities or TAFE colleges). The Programme for International Student Assessment for 2006 ranked the Australian education system with 13th on a worldwide scale for mathematics, 8th for science, and 6th for reading. In Australia, there is no official religion. People are allowed to practice any religion they choose or not to have a religion. 64% of Australia’s population identifies themselves as Christian. Of these 70%, around 27% are Catholic, 20% are Anglican, and 20% claiming another type of Christian religion. The number of people who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism is increasing. 19% of people in 2006 have no religion which includes atheism, agnosticism, and rationalism. The second largest religion is Buddhism, then Hinduism, then Islam. Less then 6% of Australians have non- Christian religions.1.5 million people attended church weekly in 2004. That is about 7.5% of the population. Australia’s climate is arid and semiarid. It is semiarid in the west and center of Australia. The south and east are temperate and the north is tropical. Australia is 40% tropical. In the Australian Alps it snows at times. Most of Australia’s interior ( the Outback) has a desert climate. The Outback covers most of Australia’s interior. It is too hot, dry, and barren to support many people. North Australia has two seasons wet and dry. It has a high temperature all year round. The southern parts of Australia have four
  5. 5. seasons. You will hardly ever see snow except for in the mountains. Australia gets very little rain. It has a continental climate. Australia’s temperatures get hot during the day then drop considerably at night. 80% of Australia’s land has rainfall less than 600 millimeters per year. 50% has rainfall less than 300 millimeters per year. Australia is in the southern hemisphere. That means that its seasons are opposite ours in the northern hemisphere. In Australia, summer is from December to February. Autumn is from March to May. Winter is from June to August and Spring is from September to November. Summers in Australia can get quite a lot hotter than they can in the Northern hemisphere. The dry climate, especially in the northern region can lead to droughts, heat waves, and bushfires. The southern regions are temperate with temperatures ranging from hot to cold with moderate rainfall. The tropical north regions have high temperatures and humidity. The weather can range from below zero in the Snowy Mountains region to the extreme heat of the northwest. The lowest temperature ever recorded was at Charlotte Pass in New South Wales on June 29, 1994. It was minus 23 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature ever recorded was at Cloncurry in Queensland on January 16,1889. It was 53.1 degrees Celsius. However it was not official because the equipment used was not as good as it is today. The official highest temperature was at Oodnadatta in South Australia on January 2, 1960. It was 50.7 degrees Celsius. The longest heat wave in the world was recorded at Marble Bar in Western Australia. It lasted from October 31, 1923 to April 7, 1924. That was 160 days of temperatures that were at or above 37.8 degrees Celsius. That is 100 degrees Fahrenheit! The wettest town is Tully in north Queensland. It has an average rainfall of 4,204 millimeters. The highest rainfall recorded in one day was at Beerwah in Queensland on February 3, 1893. It received 907 millimeters of rain.
  6. 6. I think Australia is a beautiful country. I would love to visit Australia. It would be nice to spend Christmas on the beach and have a cookout. I might not want to attend school but everything else about Australia sounds awesome. Even the Outback sounds fun to visit. If I go to Australia I want to visit the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, the Sydney Opera House, and Harbor Bridge. I wonder what it would be like to live in Australia? Maybe I’ll be able to find the answer to that when I get older.
  7. 7. /australia/australia.htm Pacific/Australia.html ontent/article/161-hot-topics/353-living-in- http://www.aussie- australia.html My 7th grade social studies book. factbook/geos/as.htmlhttp://www.outback-australia-travel- http://www.ritas-outback- ts/default.aspx?section=General m