Commonwealth of Australia
The flattest continent!
Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Located in the Southern Hemisphere, it comprises the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Capital of Australia is Canberra.
For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales. As the population grew, the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia.
Australia is the flattest continent with the oldest and least fertile soils. Desert or semi-arid land, commonly known as the outback, makes up the largest portion of land. The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate.
States and Territories:
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and two territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a claim to a territory in Antarctica. All states and two of the three internal territories have their own parliaments and administer themselves; the remaining territories are administered by the Federal Government.
Other places and informational links for Australia:
A highly developed country, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance. The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning “southern”. The country has been referred to colloquially as Oz since the early 20th century. Aussie is a common colloquial term for “Australian”. In neighbouring New Zealand the term “Aussie” is sometimes applied as a noun to the nation as well as its residents.
Australia’s size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with subtropical rain forests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east areas, and a dry desert in its centre.The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents.
Most attractions in Australia remain open year-round, some operating at a reduced frequency or shorter hours during the off-peak season. All visitors – apart from citizens of New Zealand – require a visa in advance of travel. For all tourist visa classes you must be able to demonstrate your ability to support yourself financially for time you intend to spend in Australia.
Australia is a long way from anywhere else in the world so, for most visitors, the only practical way of getting into Australia is by air. There are a good number of airports in Australia. November to February is the cruising season, and there are usually about 10 ships that arrive in Australia from other countries during this time.
Australia is huge but sparsely populated, and you can sometimes travel many hours before finding the next trace of civilisation, especially once you leave the south-eastern coastal fringe. Australia has a generally well-maintained system of roads and highways, and cars are a commonly used method of transport. Most of the state capitals are linked to each other by good quality highways. Australia drives on the left. Overseas visitors who are used to driving on the right should take care when they first drive, and again when they are driving on country roads with little traffic.
Major cities around Australia have multiple outlets providing a wide range of rental vehicles from major international rental companies. In smaller towns car rental can be difficult to find. One way fees often apply from smaller regional outlets.