AREA: 2.9 million square miles (7.6 million km2)
PERCENTAGE OF SURFACE AREA COVERED BY WATER: 4.3%
POPULATION: 22.4 million
GEOGRAPHY: Australia is a nation located on the world’s smallest continent. It is situated between the Indian and South Pacific oceans. The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, extends for more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) along the northeastern coast. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain (7,310 feet or 2,228 meters) on the Australian mainland. Most of the central part of Australia is desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the Outback.
CLIMATE: Australia’s climate ranges from maritime to semi-arid desert, with only the southeastern and southwestern corners of the continent experiencing a temperate climate. Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats, from alpine to tropical rain forest.
ECONOMY: Tourism is one of Australia’s primary economies. In some parts of the country conditions are ideal for mining, and large deposits of gold, iron, bauxite, iron, manganese, opals and sapphires have been identified. Natural gas deposits are spread evenly throughout the continent.