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All about Australia.

Welcome down under to Australia, the smallest continent but the largest island in the world! This beautiful country of scented rain forests and eucalyptus trees, koala bears and kangaroos is the sixth largest country in the world - it's almost 7.7 million square kilometres - but only about 18 million people live there. In comparison, the United States, which is of a similar size (not including Alaska and Hawaii), has more than 10 times the population.

British ships arrived in Australia only about 200 years ago, but the Aboriginal people have lived here for about 50,000 years. Today, Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world.


Australia is the only country in the world that makes up a whole continent by itself. Lying on and stretching south from the Tropic of Capricorn, it is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arafura Sea to the north, the Indian Ocean to the west and the Southern Ocean to the south.

Australia is one of the flattest continents in the world. It's highest point is Mount Kosciusko in the Australian Alps, at 2,228 metres. The longest river in this country of more than 3,000 national parks and reserves is the Darling, which measures 2,736 kilometres.

The seasons in Australia are opposite to what we experience here in the northern hemisphere; summer begins in December and winter in June. There is a wide range of climates in Australia but there are generally no extremes; the average temperatures above the Tropic of Capricorn range from 23-26[degrees]C and the southern areas are a bit milder. Australia is the driest continent on earth.


Animal lovers will find all kinds of interesting creatures in Australia. Some of these are unique animals that, for the most part, cannot be found anywhere else in the world. These include the koala bear, the platypus (a furry animal that lives in the river and has a duck bill), the Tasmanian Devil and 520 lizard species (the largest one, the goanna, can be as big as two metres). You'll also find kangaroos and emus (a large, flightless bird) all over the continent - so it makes sense that these are the national symbols of Australia.

During the winter, you can find whales who have migrated to Australia from Antarctica. And you'll discover many different kinds of marine animals living at the Great Barrier Reef, the longest and most intricate living coral system in the world, found along the country's east coast. Finally, more than 750 species of birds can be seen in Australia, 300 of which are found nowhere else in the world.


The main industries found in Australia include chemical, aerospace, electrical and electronics, information technology, engineering, food processing, motor vehicles, iron and steel, paper, wood chips and forestry. The agricultural industry is also important to this country which produces a lot of wool and is also an important supplier of cereal grains, dairy, meat, sugar and fruit.

Australian wines have been growing in popularity lately and the country's fishery products, especially crustaceans - like lobsters and crabs - are exported to East Asia and the United States. The service industry, including things like construction, education, tourism and business services, is the largest and fastest growing part of Australia's economy.

Australia is an important producer and exporter of energy resources and is also one of the world's biggest producers of minerals and metals. More than 60 different minerals are mined here, including bauxite, diamonds and black and brown coal. Ores containing gold, silver, lead, zinc, iron, copper, nickel and tin are also mined in this country, which is an important producer of precious and semiprecious stones like sapphire, opal and pearls, as well.


Almost 90 per cent of all Australians live in cities along the 47,000 kilometres of coastline. The largest city is Sydney, with about 3.5 million people. Melbourne is the second largest with just over three million people, and Brisbane, the third largest, has 1.4 million people. Canberra is the capital of Australia and is home to about 300,000 people.

English is the official language in Australia and Christianity is the main religion although all other major religions are represented here.

Australians are sometimes called "sport crazy" and enjoy participating in a variety of sports, including fishing, bush walking, horse riding, tennis, golf, boating and other water sports. They also watch a lot of sports including football, rugby, cricket, tennis and horse racing. Most schoolchildren in Australia play football, cricket, tennis, hockey, netball, softball or gymnastics. And for most kids, learning to swim is a must.

Meat is an important part of the daily diet in Australia but this includes more than the usual beef, pork, lamb and poultry. In this country you can also eat kangaroo, emu, crocodile and something called "witchetty grub" which is an Aboriginal delicacy! The wide range of fruit in Australia will satisfy just about any appetite from Tasmanian apples and luscious berries to mangoes, papayas and citrus fruit.


* Famous film stars from Australia include Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman. Also, the movie Babe (about the pig who wanted to be a sheep dog) was made in Australia.

* Penicillin was co-discovered by an Australian named Lord (Howard) Florey and the medicine was first given to Australian patients.

* The world's longest straight stretch of railway is found in Australia. Called the "Long Straight," it is 478.4 km of unbending track between Ooldea and Nurina.

* Sydney, Australia will host the Olympic Games in the year 2000.


We asked grade five student Rebecca Rothman to answer a few questions for us.

What would you like to be when you grow up?

A veterinarian.

What's your favourite subject in school?


What are your favourite hobbies and activities?

Tennis and swimming.

How many people are in your family?

There are five people in my family: Dad, Mum, Sandon (my brother, 17 years old in year 12 at high school), Nathan (my brother, 12 years old in year seven) and me, Rebecca.

Do you have any pets?

We have two dogs: Rocky, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Rambo, a Bitsa with some Blue Cattle dog in him.

What is your favourite food?

Calamari (squid).

What would you like to say to kids in Canada?

Why don't you come to Australia for a holiday? It's a great place to live and also to visit!
COPYRIGHT 1997 MIR Communications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Kidsworld Magazine
Date:Sep 22, 1997
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