Australia is the smallest continent and/or one of the largest islands. Population is about 20 million. It lies "across the Ditch" (ie the Tasman Sea) several hundred kilometres north-west of New Zealand and was inhabited about 40,000 years earlier despite its nickname of "The Big Dry".
Most of the country is on the main island, with a significant mountain chain near the east coast and other mountainous areas elsewhere, particularly in the north-west. The central area is generally arid except where served by rivers that drain the eastern mountains and join to form the Murray River, which flows into the South Australian Bight.
Urban areas are concentrated near the coast, mainly in the east and south. Largest urban area, with over 5 million people, is Sydney in the southern half of the eastern coastal strip.
The southernmost state is Tasmania, on a separate island.
Government and economyEdit
Its economy is closely related to that of New Zealand. Its original constitution made provision for part or all of New Zealand to join as a separate state.