Australia Facts

Australia Facts and History


Seen from Germany, the continent of Australia lies on the other side of the globe and is the smallest of the continents. This makes the Australians the “antipodes” of the Central Europeans. About two thirds of Australia are desert or semi-desert areas, including z. B. the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert, which are located in the Midwest. Not least because of this, the majority of the population lives on the east coast. Today around 85% of Australians live in cities. In the northeast, the continent is surrounded by the barrier reef, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Flights to Australia take an average of 24 hours with a stopover and/or change from Germany and should be well prepared due to the long flight duration.

Australia is not only the smallest continent in area, but also the lowest with an average height of around 330 m above sea level. The continent extends from north to south over approx. 3,700 km and from west to east over approx. 4,000 km. The offshore island of Tasmania also belongs to the country. Australia was originally used by the British as a penal colony, from which today’s state of Australia developed. In the course of this process, the indigenous people of the continent, the Aborigines, were pushed more and more to the margins of society and to inhospitable regions of the country.

It is interesting that the approximately 5 million tourists who visit the country annually bring more money into the country than the export of raw materials or agriculture brings. Particularly interesting for the country are the so-called approx. 500,000 “backpackers” who are happy to be used as temporary (cheap) workers for mutual benefit.

A warning must be given about the summer bush fires. In February 2009, over 1,200 km² were destroyed by fire – with over 170 dead. This large fire – in the state of Victoria – which arose from many smaller fires, was the worst bush fire the country had ever seen after the so-called Ash Wednesday fire in 1983.

Name of the country Commonwealth of Australia, short form: Australia
Form of government Parliamentary monarchy
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II represented by the Governor General
Prime minister Julia Gillard of the Labor Party (since June 24, 2010).
Special person Jessica Watson, as a 16-year-old sailed the world alone in 210 days.
Geographical location In the southern hemisphere, northwest of New Zealandat longitude 118 ° to 153 ° east and latitude 10 ° to 39 ° sou
National anthem Advance Australia Fair
Population approx. 22.5 million residents (Credit: Countryaah: Australia Population)
Ethnicities 92% Caucasian (whites),7% Asians,

1% to 2% Aborigines (natives)

Religions around 71% Christians

  • – 22% Anglican Church,
  • – 27% Catholics,
  • – 8% United Church of Australia,
  • – 14% other. Christians

3% to 4% non-Christian religions,

25% to 26% non- religious or no information.

Languages English
Capital Canberra, with about 355,000 residents
Surface 7,682 million km²
Highest mountain Mount Kosciuszko, with a height of 2,229 m
Longest river Darling, with a length of 3,780 km
Largest lake in area Lake Eyre, with an area of 9,500 km²
International license plate OUT
National currency Australian dollar (AUD $)
Gross domestic product (GDP) € 605 billion (in 2007)
Time difference to CET + 7 h to + 10 h
International phone code +61
Mains voltage, frequency 240/250 volts, 50 hertz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .au

Australia: history

Australia was settled by the ancestors of today’s Aborigines around 45,000 years ago. The settlers came to the continent from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea via the Torres Strait.

Discovery by the Europeans, today’s land

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in 1770 James Cook (1728-1779) reached the continent and took possession of it on behalf of the English queen. It is believed that around 300,000 Aborigines lived on the continent at this time.

In 1788 the first convict ship, the “First Fleet”, reached the country. It moored in what is now Sydney harbor. Over the next 80 years England sent around 160,000 convicts to Australia.

These were previously sent to America, but after 1776 this was no longer possible because of the independence movement.

The English therefore looked for an alternative. They had also considered New Zealand for this. But since the warlike Maoris were too fearsome and it was believed that they would not be easy to suppress, the English chose Australia as their new penal colony.

The following six independent colonies were founded in quick succession:

  • 1788 New South Wales
  • 1825 Tasmania, which at that time was called Van Diemens Land after the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, Anton van Diemen.
  • 1829 Western Australia
  • 1836 South Australia
  • 1851 Victoria
  • 1859 Queensland

Two more territories were added later (see below).

In 1901 the colonies were united to form the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1911 the Northern Territory gained independence from South Australia.

The House of Representatives has 150 seats and the Senate – the second chamber – 76 seats.

After the parliamentary election won by the Australian Labor Party on November 24, 2007, Kevin Michael Rudd (born 1957) became Prime Minister of the country. He replaced John Howards (born 1939), who had ruled since 1996, from the Liberal Party of Australia as the country’s 26th Prime Minister.

On June 24, 2010, the country got a Prime Minister for the first time in its history with the former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the Australia Labor Party. Gillard succeeds Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who laid down the party chairmanship and thus preceded a coup in his own ranks. Julia Gillard was born in Wales (Great Britain) in 1961 and came to Australia with her parents in 1966.

Canberra, the capital

In the course of the constitution of 1901, a new capital was planned. This was strategically built halfway between the rival cities of Sydney and Melbourne. The land was purchased in 1911 and an international competition was announced. However, the capital was not moved from Melbourne to Canberra until 1926. Canberra today has about 340,000 residents.

Gold rush

In 1851 gold was found in the Blue Mountains. The ability to make quick money drew tons of adventurous people to Australia. From 1852 onwards, up to 2,000 newcomers arrived in Melbourne every week for the gold rush wedding.

Within ten years the population grew from approx. 450,000 to 1.2 million. Melbourne developed into one of the largest cities in the world during the gold rush. The gold rush came to an abrupt end around 1890.

Immigration country

Australia was and is a country of immigration. The immigrants always came in spurts. First the British convicts, then the adventurous gold diggers, including many Irish and Scots. Many southern Europeans came between the two world wars, such as Greeks and Italians, who have preserved their culture and language to this day. Between 1950 and 1960, immigrants from Europe and the USA were actively supported by the state of Australia. The barriers to entry for Asians, on the other hand, were not eased until the late 1960s.

Recently, more and more Asians are immigrating to Australia.


In 1956 the Olympic Games took place in Melbourne. In 2000, Sydney hosted the Olympic Games. In 2006 the Commonwealth Competitions will be held in Melbourne.


The term Aborigines for the indigenous people of the continent comes from Latin and means “from the origin”.

The aboriginal people of Australia were literally ignored when Australia was discovered in 1770. The country was declared “Terra nullius”, the land that does not belong to anyone or is uninhabited, even though at that time there were around 300,000 to 1.5 million Aborigines living in Australia. However, the numbers are controversial. The Aborigines have lived on the continent for 50,000 years. In the Pleistocene, settlers from India and the Vedda tribe (Sri Lanka) reached Australia via Papua New Guinea and the Moluccas. At that time, because of the lower sea level, there was a land bridge between the two land masses. From the north, the first settlers spread over all of Australia and divided into about 500 tribes. The reason for this was the prevailing hunter-gathererism. Before 10. 000 years ago, the tribes of the inland deserts invented the boomerang to hunt birds and small marsupials. The Aborigines had no method of preserving food and supplies, so they always had to follow the herds as hunters. As a result of this nomadism, the Aborigines did not build huts or houses as dwellings, but rather shelters made of branches and animal skins. With the fragmentation into hundreds of tribes and the resulting isolation, around 260 languages emerged in Australia. that the Aborigines did not build huts or houses as dwellings, but rather shelters made of branches and animal skins. With the fragmentation into hundreds of tribes and the resulting isolation, around 260 languages emerged in Australia. that the Aborigines did not build huts or houses as dwellings, but rather shelters made of branches and animal skins. With the fragmentation into hundreds of tribes and the resulting isolation, around 260 languages emerged in Australia.

The vastness of the country also hardly allowed for chance encounters with other people. To meet other tribes or people, one had to move into the distance, which was mostly done alone. The hiking was certainly also a temporary escape from the narrowness of the clan, which consisted of only 30-40 people. Even today, the Aborigines feel this urge every now and then and give in to it, which of course leads to a lack of understanding among western-oriented employers and thus often to conflicts. The arrival of the whites was devastating for the Aborigines. The new settlers sometimes shot the Aborigines like rabbits. By 1860 there were only about 50,000 natives in Australia.

Founding spiritual myth

The dream time, according to myth, is an age in which the ancestors of the Aboriginal people shaped the landscape. The ancestors were figures in the form of huge kangaroos, emus or snakes. These formed the earth with their songs and gave the animals and plants their names. Over time, they came back to earth again and again in the form of rocks, trees and other elements of the landscape. For this reason, many Aborigines consider the landscape and its components sacred. The connection of nature with their ancestors and thus the dream time is of extraordinary importance for the Aborigines.

The aborigines nowadays

It was common practice until the 1960s for children to be stolen from their black mothers when they emerged from a relationship between a white man and a black woman. It was not until 1967 that the Aborigines were granted full citizenship. Since then, their formerly expropriated land has been returned to them. In total, that makes up about an eighth of the total area of Australia today. The Aborigines, on the other hand, only make up about 1.5% of the total population today. In 1994 the term “Terra nullius” was officially revoked. The Northern Territories are the state with the highest proportion of Aborigines. They make up about 25% of the population there.

Nowadays, the Aborigines are also partially granted autonomy in the judiciary. Many delinquent Aborigines prefer, rather than being condemned in lengthy proceedings by a white bureaucracy, to undergo a brief, often cruel, punishment from their tribe. You draw this penalty z. B. also applies if the punishment involves corporal punishment in the form of painful injuries to the legs. If they did not accept tribal punishment, it would mean expulsion from the tribe, which those affected are often determined to avoid. The forms of punishment of the tribes are sometimes so drastic that they are sharply criticized by human rights movements. The conflict between the tribes’ right to self-determination and compliance with human rights raises completely new questions. Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd apologized to the Australian Parliament on February 13, 2008 for the injustice done to the Aborigines. In particular, for the fact that from around 1910 to the end of the 1970s the children of mixed-race families were taken away in order to “bring them up properly. Up to 100,000 children were affected.

Australia Facts