It didn’t take me long to appreciate the size of the USA and all it has to offer. The contiguous US (the 48 adjoining states) is vast, covering an area that is a bit smaller than the size of Australia. Although I am now more familiar with the geography, history and culture of the US, I realise that many Americans know very little about Australia (most Americans don’t get to travel too much and seem to be indoctrinated from an early age that America is the greatest and best nation on Earth; they forget there is a whole other world out there and that the USA is just one part of it, not the centre of it). We have been asked many questions about our homeland, which we are happy to answer; on one occasion we were asked what language we spoke in Australia! (Yes, it is English). So, I thought I would share a few facts.
Some in the USA do not realise just how big it really is, or the diversity we have. Australia is the smallest continent, yet the 6th largest country in the world. We have temperate and tropical rain forests, snow-capped mountains, and quite a bit of desert (~ 70% of the country). In fact, only 10% of the continent is inhabited and 85% of the population lives within 50km (31mi) of the coast.
For those who like a visual feast – check this link, which illustrates just how big Australia is. 17 Maps of Australia
How does Australia compare to the USA? Some facts and figures:
|Total land area||7.68M km2 (2.9M mi2)||9.16M km2 (3.8M mi2)|
|Ranking in world by area||6/194||3/194|
|Population density||2 per km2 (0.8/mi2)||34 per km2 (13.1/mi2)|
|Number of states||6 (+ 2 territories)||50|
|Largest City (population)||Sydney (4.5M)||New York (8.4M)|
|Highest mountain||Kosciuszko (2,228m)||McKinley (6,168m)|
|Lowest point||Lake Eyre (-15m)||Badwater Basin (-86m)|
|Longest River||Murray (2,375km)||Missouri (3,767km)|
Some more interesting facts about Australia:
- Is the driest inhabited continent on Earth
- Is the only continent without an active volcano
- Has the worlds largest coral reef complex – The Great Barrier Reef (off the coast of the state of Queensland)
- Has the longest fence in the world – ‘The Dingo Fence’ stretches 5,400km from Queensland to South Australia
- Has the largest cattle station in the world – Anna Creek Station in South Australia is 8 times bigger than the largest ranch in Texas, USA
- Chose the Emu and Kangaroo for its coat of arms as these animals are incapable of walking backwards, so represented a nation moving forward!
- Was claimed for Great Britain in 1770 by Captain James Cook
- Was settled in 1788 (when the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay) as a penal colony. (Botany Bay proved unsuitable, so the colonists relocated to Port Jackson – now Sydney Cove)
- Became an independent nation January 1, 1901. The Commonwealth of Australia was established as a constitutional monarchy. (Australia did not gain true independence until 1986 when the Australia Acts came into force, where the British government would no longer be responsible for the government of any state and the Westminster parliament could no longer legislate for Australia. Additionally, Australia took full control of all Australia’s constitutional documents). Ref.
I know Americans fear Australia because of our reputation as having some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. So, here are some facts about our ”deadliest creatures”.
- Has 4 of the 5 most deadly snakes in the world
- Has the most poisonous spider in the world: the Sydney Funnel-web
- Has the most poisonous fish in the world – the stonefish (in Australia, this is only found north of the Tropic of Capricorn, on the Queensland north coast).
- Has the largest species of the Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri)– the “most venomous marine creature” in the world, responsible for at least 64 human deaths since 1883
I came across culture guide to Australia web page that you might find interesting. http://www.australian-information-stories.com/
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