Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral
reefs rich with marine life, tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, vast
grazing lands and sparse deserts.
One of the oldest continents, Australia is as wide as the distance
from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei and as long as the distance from Singapore
to Manila. It is the only country to occupy an entire continent.
Situated between, and isolated by, the Indian and Pacific Oceans,
Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique to the planet.
The surface geology is typically old and flat.
Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics and the rest is in the
The highlands and tablelands of Tasmania and the south eastern corner
of the mainland are the coldest areas.
Summer is from December to February; autumn from March to May; winter
from June to August; and spring from September to November.
Sites showing human occupation have been dated back to 40,000 years.
Recent work in north west Australia identified rock art that may be
175,000 years old.
Inhabited by Aborigines for more that 40,000 years, indigenous
Australians have a mystic tradition that explains their close
relationship to the land and tells of a dreamtime rich in stories of
On 26 January 1788, European settlers reached Port Jackson and
established a settlement in what is now Sydney.
The British influence originating in Australia’s colonial origins
has evolved over two centuries into a dynamic multiculturalism with
invaluable contributions from migrants from all parts of the world.
Almost a quarter of today’s 18 million Australians were born in
There are nearly one million Asian-born Australians. About 2 per cent
are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
More than 100 different ethnic groups are represented in Australia,
making Australia one of the most ethnically diversified countries in the
Although English is the official language, a host of other languages
are spoken in Australia.
Australia is predominantly a Christian country, however, all
religions are represented in the community.
Devotees will find churches, mosques, temples and synagogues located
in most major cities.
Australia is rich in the arts. There are eight professional
orchestras and a national opera company.
Within Australia there are more than 1000 museums preserving and
displaying Australia’s diverse cultural heritage.
Australian films are winning international acclaim and many
Australian film directors, actors and technicians have been acclaimed in
Hollywood at the highest level.
Australian authors have received international recognition
particularly with the Booker Prize, won twice by Australians and with
Patrick White winning the Nobel Prize for literature.
Novelists, dramatists and poets are internationally accepted by their
peers as having made a substantial contribution to world literature.
Australians traditionally have provided strong support for theatre,
from regional amateur troupes to polished professional companies.
In music, Australia has developed a fertile environment that supports
a great range of musical tastes ranging from the most avant-garde
experimental to folk, from the youthful sounds of chart-busting pop to
the unique music of the Aboriginal people.
Painting in Australia has a history that can not only be traced back
over forty thousand years of Aboriginal culture but also is represented
in the major museums and galleries of modern and avant-garde art,
Sports and Recreation
Australians are very keen on sport and outdoor activities. Australia
has more than 120 national sporting organisations and thousands of
state, regional and club bodies.
It is estimated that 6.5 million people, about a third of the
population, are registered sports participants.
While there are over 120 sporting organisations, Australians also
take part in bushwalking, fishing, boating and water sports.
Australia has a world wide reputation for sports and outdoor
activities. This is endorsed by the Olympic Committee’s selection of
Sydney to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000.
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Before you arrive in Australia, you are advised to check if your
communications equipment (for example, mobile and cordless phone, fax
machine, wireless microphone, laptop computer) is safe to operate in
For further information contact Australian
Communications Authority website.
To calculate your funds in Australian dollars, see the Currency
Customs Information is available from the ACS
Information is available from the Department
of Health and Aged Care and Health
The Australian Tourist Commission has a media
site which provides up-to-the-minute information, images and
background on Australia.
For general information on Australian quarantine measures, contact Australian
Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) by
phone + 61 2 9364 7222
fax+ 61 2 9364 7340
For detailed travel advice for Australia, contact the Australian Tourist
Commission at the ATC
Other sites are