Australiaan introduction Simonetta Gatto Istituto Comprensivo di Casella
Location Southern hemisphere Continent: Oceania Sixth largest country in the world It includes Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
Geography Between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Interior: hot and dry because it is a desert – the outback. Several mountain ranges: the Eastern Highlands in the east, separating the coastal plain from the rest of the country. Western area: Western Plateau with some mountain ranges near the west coast.
The cities The cities are concentrated in the south-east, because the climate is mild and the land is fertile. The biggest city is Sidney, but the federal capital is Canberra. Other important cities are Melbourne and Adelaide. Perth is the only big city on the west coast. Alice Springs is in the middle of the country and of the desert.
The political sytem Federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Six states: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. Two territories: Northern Territory and Autralian Capital Territory. Its population is about 23 million.
The Head of State This title is shared by two people: the British monarch – today Queen Elizabeth II – and the Governor General who represents the queen. The current Governor is Mrs Quentin Bryce, the first woman to hold this role.
A democratic country Like all democracies the political power has three branches: Executive: a government headed by the Prime Minister Tony Abbot. Legislative: a bicameral Parliament Judicial: Supreme Court
The natural wonders Ayers Rock, or Uluru, is the world's largest monolith; it is in the middle of the desert and is sacred to the aborigines. It changes colour during the day, from red to violet, to orange and brown. The nearest town is Alice springs. The Great Barrier Reef is a living structure of coral reefs; it is 2,300 km long, at 20 to 200 km from the north-east coast. It contains 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish.
In Australia there are animals that are not found in any other parts of the world Koala: small bear-like marsupial; it gets its name from an aboriginal word meaning “no drink”, because it seldom drinks, but eats eucalyptus leaves. Kangaroo: a mammal which carries its babies in a special pouch. It has strong hind legs thanks to which it can jump up to nine metres. Platypus: a strange mammal which lays eggs. Dingo: a wild dog which lives in the desert . Emu: a big bird, similar to an ostrich; it is one of the symbols of the country Salt water crocodile: fast and dangerous reptile living in salt water
Australian aborigines • Native people of the country • They arrived in Australia about 40,000 years ago. • They settled inland and they have related their history and culture through songs and dance. • They lived in harmony until the arrival of the first European who took possession of their land and started to persecute them. Still today they do not always enjoy human rights. • Some live in degrading conditions, either in big cities or on reservations.
The first Europeans in Australia • The first Europeans to arrive were the Dutch in 1606. • In 1770 the British Captain James Cook explored the south-east coast and later, in 1788, Great Britain established the first penal colony in Botany Bay (today Sidney). • In the XIX century other colonies were created by the British. • This was the beginning of the tragic history of the Aborigines who grew weaker and weaker because of British hegemony. • The six colonies became independent from the British Empire, after a referendum, in 1901.
What language? The official language is Australian English. This is due to the fact that Australia is an ex British colony. The second generation migrants are bilingual, so some Australians speak Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, or other languages, too.