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Facts & Figures

Australia comes from the Latin wording Terra Australis Incognita, which means: Unknown Southern Land.

Australia'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, sometimes mistakenly, credited with Australia's European discovery in 1770, it is possible it was a Portuguese who 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.

Australia has currently (2014) more than 23 million inhabitants. It is one of the most urbanised countries on earth with it's two major cities, Sydney and Melbourne, accounting for almost 40% of its population and housing over 4 million  inhabitants each.

As of 2011 - 335.000 Australians are Dutch by ancestry and 76.000 are Dutch by birth.

For more information please visit the Dutch Australian-Wikipedia

Australia is divided into six states:

•  New South Wales
•  Queensland
•  South Australia
•  Tasmania
•  Victoria
•  Western Australia

And two main territories:

•  the Australian Capital Territory
•  the Northern Territory
Under Australia's federal system of government, the states and territories also play a major role in providing government information and services to the public.

Minor territories of Australia include part of Antarctica (the Australian Antarctic Territory) as well as:

•  Ashmore and Cartier Islands
•  Christmas Island
•  Cocos (Keeling) Islands
•  Coral Sea Islands
•  Jervis Bay Territory
•  Norfolk Island
•  Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Capital Cities

Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory, is Australia's national capital. The Parliament of Australia is located in Canberra, as is most of the Australian Government public service.

The other State and Territory capital cities are:

•  Adelaide (South Australia)
•  Brisbane (Queensland)
•  Darwin (the Northern Territory)
•  Hobart (Tasmania)
•  Melbourne (Victoria)
•  Perth (Western Australia)
•  Sydney (New South Wales)

Australia's continental plate drifted away from Antarctica towards the equator between 10 and 55 million years ago. This isolation of Australian plants, landscape and wildlife led to a unique evolutionary process.

Australia has an exceptional range of species with more than 80 percent of our mammals, frogs, reptiles and flowering plants found nowhere else in the world.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples inhabited most areas of the Australian continent before the arrival of European settlers. Today, Australia is a culturally diverse society with a population of over 20 million. English is Australia's official language but more than four million residents speak a second language.

Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. It has an area of nearly 7.7 million square kilometres. It is the world's sixth largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the USA and Brazil.

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.

Australia has 16 listed World Heritage properties:

  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Willandra Lakes Region
  • Lord Howe Island
  • Tasmanian Wilderness
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
  • Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland
  • Shark Bay in Western Australia
  • Fraser Island
  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte)
  • Heard and McDonald Islands
  • Macquarie Island
  • Greater Blue Mountains Area
  • Purnululu National Park
  • Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne

Australia is also famous for its landmark buildings including the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge; its ancient geology, as well as for its high country.

Climatic zones range from deserts to snow-capped mountains; from tropical rainforests to cool climate forests. The summer months are December to February, autumn months are March to May, winter months are June to August and spring months are September to November.

Australia experiences many of nature's more extreme phenomena, including floods, droughts and bushfires. Some regions also experience storms and tropical cyclones.

Australian Flags

The Australian National flag, the Australian Aboriginal people flag, the Torres Strait Islander flag and the Australian Defence Force flag are all proclaimed flags of Australia.

National Anthem

The Australian National Anthem, 'Advance Australia Fair', was declared the national anthem in 1984. It is a revised version of a song written by Peter Dodds McCormick (also known as Amicus) in the late 1900s.

Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia and its ownership and authority.

Floral Emblems of Australia

  • Commonwealth of Australia - Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
  • Australian Capital Territory - Royal Bluebell - (Wahlenbergia gloriosa)
  • New South Wales - Waratah - (Telopea speciosissima)
  • Northern Territory - Sturt's Desert Rose - (Gossypium sturtianum)
  • Queensland - Cooktown Orchid - (Dendrobium phalaenopsis)
  • South Australia - Sturt's Desert Pea - (Swainsona formosa)
  • Tasmania - Tasmanian Blue Gum - (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • Victoria - Common Heath - (Epacris impressa)
  • Western Australia - Red and Green Kangaroo Paw - (Anigozanthos manglesii)

National Colours

Green and gold were proclaimed Australia's national colours by the Governor-General in 1984.