Australia is our first destination on our trip, and I know everyone in our family is chomping at the bit to get there, but first we need to know a little about the tiny continent. Australia is somewhat similar to the United States, since we speak English and so do they. Well, yes that is true, but there are probably a ton more differences than similarities. For example, if you look out in your backyard, are there a bunch of Kangaroos jumping around? No? That’s what I thought.
So as our first destination I present: Australia!
Australia is the smallest continent with an area of 2.97 million square miles, although it is a country too! So, it is a tiny continent and a big country. Also, there is nothing bordering Australia except for a few little islands dotted around the mainland.
Population + Density:
Australia has a relatively big population around 23.13 million. (That was in 2013) The population density of Australia is 3 people per kilometer, so you have a lot of room to move around.
Australia uses the Australian dollar.
1 AD = 0.77270 USD
1 USD = 1.36 AD
The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is the federal democratic administrative authority of Australia. So Australia uses a democratic system where there are two parties and they vote for a president between them.
Prime Minister: Tony Abott
The national language is English. A long time ago England controlled Australia as a colony, similar to America’s history, so that is why they speak English.
Christianity is by far the most popular religion, but Buddhism is also common. Islam and Hinduism are also common too although, a quarter of the population isn’t religious at all.
Australia has 12 time zones, they are:
- Mawson Station Time Zone (UTC+05:00)
- Heard and McDonald Islands Time Zone (UTC+05:00)
- Cocos Islands Time Zone (UTC+06:30)
- Davis Time Zone (UTC+07:00)
- Christmas Island Time Zone (UTC+07:00)
- Australian Western Time Zone (UTC+08:00)
- Casey Time Zone (UTC+08:00)
- Central Western Time Zone (UTC+08:45)
- Australian Central Time Zone (UTC+09:30)
- Australian Eastern Time Zone (UTC+10:00)
- Lord Howe Time Zone (UTC+10:30)
- Norfolk Time Zone (UTC+11:30)
People have been living in Australia for around 40,000-60,000 years. The first people in Australia were the Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. They all came by either crossing the land bridge when the tide was low, or they took boats to Australia and the surrounding islands. The first European explorer to discover Australia was Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon. In 1688 the first English explorer William Dampier reached Australia. Then, in 1770, British sailor, Captain James Cook found the east coast of Australia and claimed it as English territory. The British decided to use the land discovered by Captain Cook as a prison colony. Britain needed a place to send it’s convicts because their jails were full. In 1788, the first British fleet of 11 ships carrying 1500 people arrived in Sydney. About 160,000 convicts were brought to Australia between 1788 until 1868. In the 1790’s, free immigrants started to arrive in Australia.
For the first few years life was very hard on the immigrants. But soon, they started to farm and more people cane. Sydney grew and new towns were being built everywhere. People started making lots of money off of wool. Soon, more and more people kept arriving and many of the natives were pushed off their land. Many were killed, either by sickness or by Europeans. There were still many more natives than there were Europeans. Many reserves for Aboriginals were made. In 1853 there was a gold rush which cranked the population way up.
In the 1840’s and 50’s, the people in Australia wanted to run their own country because at the time Australia was controlled by England. William Wentworth established the Australian Patriotic Association (Australia’s first political party) in 1835 to demand a democratic government for Australia. In 1840 the Adelaide City Council and the Sydney City Council were started and some people could vote for them (but only men with land and money, and that doesn’t seem too fair). Then, Australia’s first Parliamentary elections happened for the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1843. The Australian Colonies Government Act in 1850 allowed constitutions for New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Soon, more and more councils started popping up in all of the cities. A new secret ballot was introduced to many of the Australian colonies in 1856 allowing people to vote in private. In 1855 all men over 21 were able to vote in South Australia. The other colonies soon did the same as South Australia Women were given the vote in the Parliament of South Australia in 1895 and they became the first women in the world allowed to stand in elections. In 1897, Catherine Helen Spence became the first female political candidate.
That is all about Australia for now…can’t wait to get there in just three days!