AustraliaAustralasia is a vast region that includes islands with huge glaciers spread over much of the Pacific Ocean. The land area is 8,508,238 sq km. However the total sea area is much, much bigger. Australia is the only country in the world which is also a continent in its own right.
New GuineaThe largest island is New Guinea which has a total area of 787,878 sq km. Fraser Island, off Queensland, Australia, is the worlds largest sand island with a sand dune 120 km long. Australasia is mostly tropical, with temperatures averaging 30°C in the north of Australia, and slightly lower on the islands where the ocean keeps the land cool.
New zealandNew Zealand is only a few thousand kilometres from the Antarctic Circle at its southern tip. As a result of occupying this position New Zealand has only mild summers and cold winters.
Mt WilhelmAustralasia’s highest peak is Mt Wilhelm on Fapua New Guinea, 4300 m high.
Great Barrier ReefThe Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living thing, 2027 km long. It is the only structure built by animals that is visible from space.
Australia was the first continent to break off from Pangaea about 200 million years ago, and so has developed its own unique wildlife.
Indian - Australian plateAustralia sits on the Indian - Australian plate, which is moving very slowly north away from Antarctica. New Zealand sits astride the boundary with Apart from the landmass of Australia, the Pacific plate. much of Australasia is open water.
Australia’s populationThe Aborigines make up 1.8 percent of Australia’s population today, but they were the first inhabitants.
AborigineThe word aborigine comes from the Latin ab origine, which means ‘from the start’. Aborigine cave paintings and tools have been found in Australia dating back to at least 45,000 years ago. The Kooris or Aborigines of Australia spread right across the Pacific many thousands of years ago and were probably the first inhabitants of America as well. British people and Irish began to settle in Australia about 200 years ago.
They now form the majority of the population, along with other white Europeans. Many of the earliest settlers in Australia were convicts, transported from Britain for minor crimes. Many Australians have ancestral roots in the British Isles. British and Irish settlers drove the Aborigines from their land and 60 percent now live in cities.
After hard campaigning some Aboriginal sacred sites are being returned to them, with their original names. Ayers Rock is now known as Uluru. A famous trial in 1992 returned to Aborigine Eddy Mabo land on Murray Island first occupied by his ancestors before the Europeans arrived. Many recent immigrants to Australia are from Southeast Asia, Serbia, Croatia and Greece.
Sydney is Australia’s biggest and oldest city. Most inhabitants have British ancestry, but other Europeans are settling there, as well as Asians. Several thousand Aborigines live there too.