Friday, May 25, 2018

Commonwealth of Australia

In November I'm off to the Land Down Under.  Two weeks in "Oz" followed by a few days in Wellington (hopefully minus an earthquake) and Hong Kong. I'm well excited for this holiday.  So here's a bit about Australia.

The Commonwealth of Australia consists of mainland Australia, the island of Tasmania, and a few smaller islands including Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Norfolk Island.  I grew up learning that Australia is the both the world's biggest island and the smallest continent.  But it seems to be the biggest country in Oceania.

Australia is +7,68 million km² (2.9 million sq miles) making it the world's 6th biggest country.  It's slightly smaller than the 48 contiguous states.  It is located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.  With no land borders, the closest neighbouring countries to the north are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor.  To the north-east are the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.  To the south-east is New Zealand.

Australia was inhabited by indigenous people for about 60,000 years before Dutch explorers landed in 1606.  About 150 years later the French landed and in 1770 Great Britain claimed the eastern half.  The British settled New South Wales as a penal colony.

In 1901, Australia formally became the Commonwealth of Australia.  It is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy.  It is made up of six states and several territories.  Australia is home to more than 23 million people.  The capital is Canberra and Sydney is the largest city.  Other notable cities include Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, and Alice Springs.  

Australia is a long way from everywhere and almost everyone arrives by plane.  A flight to New Zealand takes three hours.  Most Asian countries take 7 to 11 hours to fly there and it can take about 24 hours or more to get there from Euroland.    

The country has the world's 9th largest immigrant population.  About 26% of the population was born outside of the the country.  Those seeking asylum, and arriving by boat, have a difficult time as all asylum seekers are housed and processed on the island nation of Nauru.  Some applicants have been redirected to Cambodia instead.  Here's a short video I found out on YouTube talking about immigration in Australia.
©Al Jazeera

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Australia has no official language.  However, the de facto language is English, with that charming Crocodile Dundee accent.  

The Australian Dollar (AUD) is the official currency.  The currency is also used in Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.  Australia has the world's 12th-largest economy and the 10th-highest per capita income.

Here's a short video about how powerful the country is.  
©Test Tube News

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