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Country Facts About Australia for Kids

Updated on April 1, 2017

Australia is both a country and a continent. It’s an island continent, so it doesn’t share borders with any other countries. It’s surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

The Commonwealth of Australia is a parliamentary democracy. In a democracy, people elect leaders to make laws. Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, which is a group of countries that used to be British colonies. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. The capital city of Australia is Canberra.

Australia is divided into states and territories. They are: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia.

Map of Australia
Map of Australia

Demography

Australia has a population of about 22 million people. The people are called Australians. English is the main language of the country but native aboriginal languages are also spoken.

Whites makes up about 92% of the population. Asians make up approximately 7% and native aborigines make up 1%.

Most of the population belongs to various sects of Christianity. About 25% don’t practice any religion. About 99% of Australians are literate, which means they can read and write.

Australian Rules Football is a popular sport in Australia
Australian Rules Football is a popular sport in Australia
Aboriginal music performance
Aboriginal music performance

Flying Doctors and Schools of the Air

Way of Life

Australia is an island continent. European settlers arrived there a couple of hundred years ago. They displaced the native population that already lived there. So, the country has both a white population and an indigenous population. Australia used to be a prison colony, so many Australians are the descendents of convicts.

Most people in Australia live in coastal areas. Much of the middle of the country, called the Outback, is sparsely populated. People sometimes live miles from their neighbors.

Most people who live in the interior of the country work in farming, tourism or mining. The populations of many of these areas are too small for doctor’s offices, hospitals and schools. So, people rely on a group called the Flying Doctors for healthcare and Schools of the Air for the education of their children.

Children spend about an hour receiving group or individual lessons from a faraway teacher and then do assigned lessons with a parent, older sibling or tutor. Different schools serve various remote regions of the country. Teachers usually visit students from time to time. They have to travel hundreds of miles to visit all of their students. The teachers used to use two-way radios to communicate with students. Satellite networks are used now to provide lessons with computers. Some children even take music lessons this way.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS), also known as The Flying Doctors, provides medical services to people living in remote areas of Australia. The RFDS brings doctors, nurses and dentists to regular clinics to provide health services to remote residents. The service also provides emergency transport to hospitals.

A welcome sign for an Outback town with a population of 300 people
A welcome sign for an Outback town with a population of 300 people
Agnes water beach
Agnes water beach

Climate

An imaginary line called the Tropic of Capricorn goes west to east through the country. Areas between this line and another imaginary line called the Tropic of Cancer have tropical climates.

The northern part of Australia is between these two lines, so it has a tropical climate. Areas with tropical climates have warm or mild weather all year long. The southern part is beneath the Tropic of Capricorn, so it has a temperate climate. Temperate climates have four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.

It snows in the mountains. There are ski resorts in the mountain range called the Great Dividing Range.

A creek in Australia's Outback region
A creek in Australia's Outback region

Topography

The topography of Australia is varied. It has beaches, deserts and mountains. The country is surrounded by oceans, so it has a lot of beaches and coastline. The Outback is largely dry desert but there is fertile farmland as well.

The River Murray in New South Wales is the longest river. Lake Burley Griffin in Capital Territory is the largest lake. The largest desert is the Great Victoria Desert. Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountain range is the highest peak. The Great Dividing Range is the longest mountain range. Some islands are also part of Australia. Tasmania, home to an animal species called the Tasmanian Devil, is the most well known.

Economy

Australia is a wealthy country. It has abundant natural resources, including coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, and renewable energy sources. Natural resources are useful things that occur in nature.

Australia exports iron ore, gold, meat, wool, wheat, machinery and transportation equipment. The nation imports machinery, transportation equipment, computers, office machines, telecommunications equipment and oil.

The country’s currency is called the Australian dollar (AUD).

A street in Adelaide, Australia
A street in Adelaide, Australia

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