Australia is an island continent and the world’s sixth largest country (7,682,300 sq km). Lying between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the country is approximately 4,000 km from east to west and 3,200 km from north to south, with a coastline 36,735 km long. Canberra is Australia’s capital city. With a population of approximately 380,000 people and situated in the Capital Territory, Canberra is roughly half way between the two largest cities Melbourne and Sydney. Australia has 19 listed World Heritage properties. Famous for its landmark buildings including the Sydney Harbour Bridge; its ancient geology, as well as for its high country.
The majority of Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year. The northern states are typically warm all the time, with the southern states experiencing cool winters but rarely sub-zero temperatures. Snow falls on the higher mountains during the winter months, enabling skiing in southern New South Wales and Victorian ski resorts, as well as the smaller resorts in island state, Tasmania.
The nation’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, are believed to have migrated from some unknown point in Asia to Australia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.
While Captain James Cook is credited with European discovery in 1770, a Portuguese possibly first sighted the country, while the Dutch are known to have explored the coastal regions in the 1640s.
The first European settlement of Australia was in January 1788, when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. Originally established as a penal colony, by the 1830s the number of free settlers was increasing. Transportation of convicts to the eastern colonies was abolished in 1852 and to the western colonies in 1868.
Australian culture is as broad and varied as the country’s landscape. The nation is multicultural and multiracial and this is reflected in the country’s food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience. Australia has an important heritage from its indigenous people, which plays a defining role in the cultural landscape. This diversity of influences creates a cultural environment that is lively, energized, innovative and outward looking.
*Text content from Australian Government Website