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Australia Geography


Australia is a country, an island, and a continent. It is located in Oceania between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. The Geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The geography of the country is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests. Australia comprises a land area of nearly 7,7 million square kilometers, that makes it almost as great as that of the United States of America (excluding Alaska), about 50% greater than Europe (excluding the former USSR) and 32 times greater than the United Kingdom. The bulk of the Australian land mass lies between latitudes 10 degrees 41 minutes (10 41') south (Cape York, Queensland) and 43 38' south (South East Cape, Tasmania) and between longitudes 113 09' east (Steep Point, Western Australia) and 153 38' east (Cape Byron, New South Wales). The most southerly point on the mainland is South Point (Wilsons Promontory, Victoria) 39 08' south. The latitudinal distance between Cape York and South Point is about 3,180 kilometers, while the latitudinal distance between Cape York and South East Cape is 3,680 km. The longitudinal distance between Steep Point and Cape Byron is about 4,000 km. In a jurisdictional and economic sense, however, Australia extends far beyond this land mass.

The state of Tasmania includes numerous small islands and extends to Macquarie Island which lies approximately 1,470 km south east of the main island. The territories of Australia include the Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands, Heard Island, the McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, the Coral Sea Islands, Ashmore Island, and Cartier Island. In total there are about 12 thousand islands. While most of these islands are small, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allows Australia jurisdiction over large tracts of the ocean and seafloor that surround them.

Australia has an Exclusive Economic Zone that is 200 nautical miles wide (370,4 km). The Exclusive Economic Zone gives Australia jurisdiction over a marine area of some 10 million square kilometers.

Australia is the lowest, flattest and, apart from Antarctica, the driest of the continents. Much of the centre of Australia is flat, but there are numerous ranges (e.g. Macdonnells, Musgrave) and some individual mountains of which Uluru (Ayers Rock) is probably the best known. The Australian landforms of today are thus seen to result from long continued processes in a unique setting, giving rise to typical Australian landscapes, which in turn provide the physical basis for the distribution and nature of biological and human activity in Australia.

The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts. Australia is considered to have one of the highest degrees of urban concentration in the world. Despite the urban concentration, Australia has an average of three people per square kilometre, making it one of the lowest population densities in the world. It ranks amongst the most urbanized populations in the world today.

Isolation of the Australian island-continent for 55 million years created a sanctuary for the birds, animals and plants which have lived here. As an island set far south on the planet, the country is home to the most amazing flora and fauna, gorgeous Australian animals like koalas and about 50 species of kangaroos, ranging from some that stand as tall as a man to others as small as cats.

Sources: University World and Wikipedia