Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. It’s about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 per cent larger than Europe, but has the lowest population density in the world – only two people per square kilometre.
Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the world’s smallest, flattest continent.
Australia produces 95 per cent of the world’s precious opals and 99 per cent of its black opals. The world’s opal capital is the quirky underground town of Coober Pedy in South Australia. The world’s largest opal, weighing 5.27 kilograms, was found here in 1990.
Australia’s 85.7 million sheep (mostly merinos) produce most of the world’s wool. With 25.4 million head of cattle, Australia is also the world’s largest exporter of beef.
Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is home to the world’s largest oyster, weighing up to 3 kilograms, while the world’s longest earthworm, stretching up to 4 metres, is found in Gippsland in Victoria. The heaviest crab, weighing up to 14 kilograms, is found in Bass Strait near Tasmania. Australia’s tallest mountain is Mt Kosciuszko, which is 2,228 metres above sea level.
There are an estimated 40 million kangaroos in Australia, more than when Australia was first settled.
Since 1945 more than six million people from across the world have come to Australia to live.
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Today, more than 20 per cent of Australians are foreign born and more than 40 per cent are of mixed cultural origin. In our homes we speak 226 languages – after English, the most popular are Italian, Greek, Cantonese and Arabic.
Australians invented notepads (1902), the surf lifesaving reel (1906), aspirin (1915), the pacemaker (1926), penicillin (1940) the Hills Hoist clothesline (1946), the plastic disposable syringe (1949), the wine cask (1965), the bionic ear (1978), dual-flush toilet flush (1980) anti-counterfeiting technology for banknotes (1992) and long-wearing contact lenses (1999).
Believed to be the world’s oldest civilization, Aboriginal people have lived and thrived on this continent for more than 50,000 years. Aboriginal societies made many unique advances long before the Europeans arrived. They invented the aerodynamic boomerang and a type of spear thrower called the woomera. They were also the first society to ground edges on stone cutting tools and the first to use stone tools to grind seeds, everyday tools developed only much later by other societies.
Taken from http://www.australia.com