Travels in Australia:

Tasmania Hiking (19 days)
Explore the island's nature

Tasmania East-West Biking (13 days)
The diversity of the island's landscape

East Coast Hiking Experience (7 days)
Discover Tasmania's beauty

West Coast Hiking Experience (7 days)
Mt. Field, Lake St. Clair and Cradle Mountain

East Coast Biking Tour (7 days)
Discover Tasmania's nature by bike

West Coast Biking Tour (7 days)
Discover Tasmania's "Wild West"

Tasmania East-West Cycle Experience (13 days)
Highlights of the green island

Quick Facts:


Official Name:

Commonwealth of Australia




7,686,850 sq km




Australian Dollar (AUD)

Population figure:

Estimated 20.4 million


Mostly European descendants; indigenous population 410,003 (2.2% of the total population)


68% Christian: 27% Roman Catholic, 21% Anglican; Non-Christian religions 5%; 16% "No Religion" (2001 Census)

National holiday:

January 26 (Australia Day)

Government type:

Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary system of government


By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid. Australia is the driest inhabited continent, the flattest, and has the oldest and least fertile soils. Only the south-east and south-west corners of the continent have a temperate climate. The northern part of the country, with a tropical climate, has a vegetation consisting of rainforest, woodland, grassland and desert. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast and extends for over 2,000 kilometres (1,250 mi).


The primary basis of Australian culture up until the mid-20th century was Anglo-Celtic, although distinctive Australian features had been evolving from the environment and indigenous culture. The traditions of indigenous Australians are largely transmitted orally and are closely tied to ceremony and the telling of the stories of the Dreamtime. Most Australians are descended from nineteenth- and twentieth-century immigrants, the majority from Great Britain and Ireland.


The name Australia is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning of the South. Legends of an "unknown land of the south" (terra australis incognita) date back to the Roman times and were commonplace in mediaeval geography, but they were not based on any actual knowledge of the continent. The first Australians were the ancestors of the current Indigenous Australians; they arrived via land bridges and short sea-crossings from present-day Southeast Asia. Most of these people were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime. The first undisputed recorded European sighting of the Australian continent was made by the Dutch navigator Willem Jansz, who sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606. During the seventeenth century, the Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines of what they called New Holland, but made no attempt at settlement. In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast of Australia, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Britain. The expedition's discoveries provided impetus for the establishment of a penal colony there following the loss of the American colonies that had previously filled that role. Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, was settled in 1803 and became a separate colony in 1825. The Indigenous Australian population, estimated at about 350,000 at the time of European settlement, declined steeply for 150 years following settlement, mainly because of infectious disease combined with forced re-settlement and cultural disintegration. The Statute of Westminster 1931 formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. The final constitutional ties between Australia and the United Kingdom ended in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act 1986. Australian voters rejected a move to become a republic in 1999 by a 55% majority.


Well-known Australian fauna include monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the koala, kangaroo, wombat; and birds such as the emu, and kookaburra.

This article is partly based on a free article of the encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is subject to GNU-licence for free documentation. A list of authors is available on Wikipedia


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