It’s a fascinating place, Down Under. Australia is a country and a continent, a land of upside-down seasons, singular animals and breathtaking natural beauty. Its attractions range from the cosmopolitan international city of Sydney and the capital Canberra to the wild and vast Outback.
It is a nation of superlatives, from the peerless Uluru to the massive and spectacular Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for over 2,600 km along Australia’s northeastern coast. Australia abounds in diverse and often notoriously lethal wildlife, from the deadly box jellyfish in the surrounding waters to venomous spiders and insects that can be found even in homes and urban areas.
The island continent accounts for a significant percentage of the earth’s biodiversity. Many native plants, bird and animal species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world are found in Australia. Kangaroos, koalas, the Tasmanian devil, wallabies and sugar gliders are some of the most famous and fascinating examples. The carnivorous Tasmanian tiger, long been believed to be extinct, has also been sighted.
The island continent has three massive land masses: Mount Kosciuszko, Mawson Peak, and Mount Augustus. It also has one of the oldest deserts and one of the driest regions in the planet, the Outback.
Australia consists of the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia and the mainland territories of Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
The country’s major cities are not only thriving economic centres; they are also favourite tourist destinations thanks to their beautiful crystal beaches, shopping malls and arcades, and great neighbourhoods. Not far from the urban areas are lush wine regions and undisturbed countryside.
Australia’s economy is ever growing. There is a wide variety of employment opportunities for foreigners, with migration incentives to build up a competent workforce that can operate in diverse business environments. For many immigrants, Australia has become a land of opportunity. Some native Australians, however, many not see their country in the same light. Australia’s indigenous people account for about 2% of the country’s population. Long oppressed and marginalized by mainstream society, they have been working throughout the long years of colonization and conflict to have their voices heard. Their cause has also been taken up by people around the world and by their fellow Australians, who have worked to reach out to them, to make amends for their mistreatment, and to help preserve their ancient Aboriginal culture. But many of the crimes committed against the Aboriginal peoples have yet to be officially and widely acknowledged, much less atoned for.