Get to know Australia

Maybe it’s just me being a media head, but when I go to another country I hate not knowing even the simplest facts about the place!

If you’re moving to another country, I think it’s not only important but respectful too, to know about the country. You don’t have to know the name of every politician or the population breakdown, but a little general knowledge goes a long way!
Here are some simple facts about the great land of Down Under to get you started!

Country Facts

  • The population of Australia is just 24.2 million, this is the lowest population density in the world with just 30.3 people per square kmIt’s the sixth largest country in the world, the continent covering 7.6 MILLION square km
The country 32 times bigger then the UK, 22 times bigger than Germany, 12 times bigger than France, and 59 times bigger than Greece.

The country 32 times bigger then the UK, 22 times bigger than Germany, 12 times bigger than France, and 59 times bigger than Greece.

  • Australia is the lowest and flattest continent in the world. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest point (2228 metres above sea level) and Lake Eyre is the lowest point (15 metres below sea level).
  • Vegetation covers 91% of the country, with most of its flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world
  •  The national flower is the golden wattle, the national animal in the kangaroo (not the koala!) and national bird is the emu
These national animals are also eaten and exported around the world as exotic meat.

These national animals are also eaten and exported around the world as exotic meat.

Politics 
 
  • Australia is a federation, meaning it has state governments as well as a national/federal government
  • The Federal Government deal with taxes, national security, the economy and welfare
  • It has two houses – the House of Representatives with 150 members.
  • The party with the most elected representatives in the House of Representatives gets to run the country, with their leader as Prime Minister
  • Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister in September 2015 as head of the Liberal Party
Malcolm Turnbull is the 29th and current Prime Minister of Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull is the 29th and current Prime Minister of Australia.

  • The second house of the Federal Government is the Senate, laws are passed here
  • The State Government (six) sort out state hospitals, schools and police force
  • Each State has a Parliament with a Premier, who meet with the Prime Minister and help decide how taxes are split up


Monarchy
  •  
  • Australia is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the head of State is the monarch and the head of government is the prime minister
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the present monarch, and she is represented in Oz by the governor-general (Sir Peter Cosgrove)
  • In each state the monarch is represented by a governor appointed directly by the Queen
The flag has a Union Jack representing the Monarch and the stars represent the geographic location and federation.

The flag has a Union Jack representing the Monarch and the stars represent the geographic location and federation.


History

  • Australia has two main indigenous groups – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander – who lived for 60,000 years on the land before the arrival of the British
  • In 1770 Englishman James Cook and his expedition arrived on the east coast and claimed it for the British Crown
  • In 1827 the whole of Australia was claimed as British Territory
Capt. James Cook taking possession of New South Wales (1770), artist unknown, 18th century

Capt. James Cook taking possession of New South Wales (1770), artist unknown, 18th century

  • In the era of colonial government, natives were forced to live on reserves, given minimal education and needed government approval to marry
  • Australia’s first parliamentary elections were held in 1843 and women were given the right to vote in 1902, the second country in the world to do so
  • In 1869, children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent are removed from their families by the government to try assimilate them into ‘white society’ 

Aboriginal art dates back thousands and thousands of years ago, before the continent was colonised.

Aboriginal art dates back thousands and thousands of years ago, before the continent was colonised.

 
  • In 1939 Australia entered WWII ,and after Singapore fell, 15,000 Aussies became Prisoners of War of the Japanese
  • The Northern Territories suffered almost 100 Japanese air strikes and the Japanese inflict Sandakan Death March on 2,000 Australian and British prisoners of war – only 6 survive. The single worst war crime perpetrated against Australians
  • In 1949, the right to vote in federal elections was extended to Indigenous Australians who had served in the armed forces, and the entire race were not given a vote until 1962
  • In 1971, Yolngu people at Yirrkala sought an injunction against Nabalco to cease mining on their traditional land, a historic moment for the Aboriginal people  
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Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Based in Sydney, Australia she loves to blog about all things travel-related specialising in budget travel, ethical travel and off-the-beaten-track itineraries!

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