the name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning "southern". These first inhabitants may have been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. The indigenous population, estimated at 750,000 to 1,000,000 at the time of European settlement, declined for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease
The “Stolen Generations" (removal of Aboriginal children from their families) have contributed to the decline in the Indigenous population. It only has six States - five of which are on the mainland, and one which is an island. The five mainland States are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia. The island State is Tasmania.
Australia also has two Territories, those are the Australian Capital Territory, or ACT, and Northern Territory. Australia is the smallest continent, but the sixth largest country in the world. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, six colonies were established: New South Wales (1786), Tasmania (1825), Western Australia (1829), South Australia (1834), Victoria (1851) and Queensland (1859). In 1901, the colonies united and became federated as the States of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The government is democratic, has an elected Prime Minister, and recognizes the British Monarch as sovereign. Monarch is represented by a Governor General Although Australia is a fully independent parliamentary democracy, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is also formally the Queen of Australia.
The Australian Constitution sets out the powers of government in three separate chapters: - the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Minorities parties often hold the balance of power in the Senate. Senators are elected for six-year terms.
The average life of parliament is about two-and-a-half years. The governing party has changed about every five years on average since federation in 1901. Prior to World War II,several goverments lasted less than a year. But since 1945 there have been seven changes of goverment.
All citizens over the age of 18 must vote in both federal and state government elections.
Australia’s political parties discipline are extemely tight. There are four political parties: - Labour Party, Liberal Party, National Party or Country Party and finally Australian Greens.
religion in Australia is predominantly Christian.
The question about a persons religious affiliation has been asked on every census taken in Australia. In 1971 the choice of "if no religion, write none" was introduced. As a result, there was a seven-fold increase over the previous census in people stating "none". The Australian Bureau of Statistics Census Dictionary defines "No Religion" as a category of religion which has sub categories such as agnosticism, atheism, Humanism and rationalism.
2006 2001 2006 2001Total Christian 63.9% 68.0% 12,685,829 12,764,342 ... Roman Catholic ... Anglican 25.8% 26.6% 5,126,884 5,001,624 ... Uniting Church in 18.7% 20.7% 3,718,250 3,881,162Australia 5.7% 6.7% 1,135,423 1,248,674 ... Presbyterian and 3.0% 3.4% 596,668 637,530Reformed 2.7% 2.8% 544,162 529,444 ... Orthodox 1.6% 1.6% 316,740 309,205 ... Baptist 1.3% 1.3% 251,108 250,365 ... Lutheran 1.1% 1.0% 219,689 194,592 ... Pentecostal 3.7% 3.6% 736,004 675,422 ... Other Protestant 0.2% 0.2% 40,901 36,324 ... Oriental Orthodox Buddhist 2.1% 1.9% 418,753 357,813 Muslim 1.7% 1.5% 340,397 281,578 Hindu 0.7% 0.5% 148,123 95,473 Jewish 0.5% 0.5% 113,876 98,125 Other Religions 1.2% 0.5% 242,848 92,369 No Religion 18.7% 15.5% 3,706,556 2,905,993 Unknown 11.2% 11.6% 2,223,959 2,187,688 Total Population 100.0% 100.0% 19,855,293 18,769,249
The climate of Australia varies widely, but by far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid.
Only the south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate, varied between tropical rainforests, grasslands, part desert. Australias climate is ruled by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt which moves north and south with the seasons
The rainfall patterns across Australia are highly seasonal. Compared to the Earths other continental landmasses Australia is very dry. More than 80% of the continent has an annual rainfall of less than 600 mm.
Australia has been blessed with wonderful, unique and iconic wildlife. Australia boasts a range of unique and diverse animals. Kangaroos, koalas and platypuses/platypi often provoke a sense of wonder from those unfamiliar with them.
The fauna of Australia consists of a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 90% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia. geologic and climatic events helped to make Australias fauna unique.
Australia has a rich mammalian fossil history, as well as a variety of extant mammalian species, dominated by the marsupials.
Australia and its territories are home to around 800 species of bird; about 350 of these are endemic to the zoogeographic region that covers Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand
Australia has four families of native frogs and one introduced toad, the Cane Toad. Australia has two species of crocodile. The Saltwater Crocodile, known colloquially as the "salty," is the largest living crocodile species; reaching over 7 m, and weighing over 1,000 kg, they can and do kill people.
The Australian coast is visited by six species of sea turtle: the Flatback, Green Sea,Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead and the Leatherback Sea Turtles; all are protected in Australian waters. There are 29 species of Australian freshwater turtles from eight genera of family Chelidae. Australia is the only continent where venomous snakes outnumber their non- venomous cousins. Australian snakes belong to seven families. Of these, the most venomous species, including the Fierce Snake,Eastern Brown Snake, Taipan and Eastern Tiger Snake are from the family Elapidae.
There are more than 700 species of lizards in Australia with representatives of five families.There are >130 species in 20 genera of gecko found throughout the Australian continent.
More than 4,400 species of fish inhabit Australias waterways; of these, 90% are endemic. However, because of the relative scarcity of freshwater waterways, Australia has only about 300 species of freshwater fish.
Of the estimated 200,000 animal species in Australia, about 96% are invertebrates. While the full extent of invertebrate diversity is uncertain, 90% of insects and molluscs are considered endemic.
Tourism is an important industry for the Australian economy. In the financial year 2011/12, the tourism industry represented 2.5% of Australias GDP at a value of approximately A$35 billion to the national economy. Popular Australian destinations include the coastal cities of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as other high profile destinations including regional Queensland, the Gold Coast and theGreat Barrier Reef, the worlds largest reef.
The Great Barrier Reef attracts up to two million visitors every year. Major events attract a large number of tourists. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is an annual event that attractions thousands of international tourists