Geography Basics


Although it is the sixth-largest country in the world, Australia has a remarkably consistent landscape. It is the flattest continent, averaging 300m above sea level (less than half of the world-wide average). The dry, desert area of its interior, called the outback, dominates most of the continent. The lack of water and other natural resources leaves this area largely uninhabited by humans. In fact, approximately 80% of Australia�s population live within an hour�s drive of the coast.

Eastern Australia is home to many sheep and cattle ranches and is �wetter� than its Western counterpart, which is only home to miners. A tropical area is found in the Northeast. There are a few mountainous regions, most notably the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. They owe their namesake to the haze caused by the oil from eucalyptus trees. The Snowy Mountains in the southeast are also notable.

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The technical description of the climate is arid to semiarid, with more temperate areas in the south and east and tropical in north. Australia has mostly low plateau desert terrain, with fertile plain in the southeast. There are no large, deep lakes or massive rivers like the Mississippi River or the Nile.