The name of Australia comes from the Latin
word Australis, which means southern. Since it lies entirely in the southern
hemisphere, Australia is most commonly referred to as "down under". Australia,
being a country, is also a continent. In land area it's the sixth largest
for a country and the smallest continent.

Australia is a very dry, thinly populated
country. Very few coastal areas receive enough rainfall to support a large
population. The largest group of Australian people live in two large cities,

Sydney and Melbourne. The vast interior is mainly desert or grassland and
there are very few settlements. As a whole, the country has a density of
six people per square mile.

The down under is famous for vast wide-open
spaces, bright sunshine, bikini-clad beauties, enormous numbers of sheep
and cattle, and unusual wildlife. Kangaroos, Koalas, platypuses, and wombats
are a few of the erotic animals that live here.

Australia was originally settled by Great

Britain as a prison colony in the late 1700's, so now most Australian people
are of British ancestry. The immigrants brought all the customs too, such
as driving on the left side of the road and their favorite warm drink,
tea. They also speak English as the official language with their own Australian


The northern third of the Australian continent
lies in the tropics and is warm or hot year round. The rest of the country
lies south of the tropics and has warm summers and mild cool winters. The
rainfall is seasonal in Australia.

In the wet season, heavy downpours and
violent storms cause floods. But the droughts that plague the nation are
far more serious than any flood. Just about every section of Australia
has a drought in the dry season. These droughts cause severe water shortages
and cause the need for dramatic conservation laws as well as droughts there
is also brush fires.

Rivers in Australia are one of its most
vital resources. They supply the cities and towns with the much-needed
water. They also supply the farms with irrigation water. Though the rivers
are dry most of the year, dams and reservoirs keep water during the dry

Australia can basically be split into 3
parts-the eastern highlands, central lowlands, and the western plateau.

The highlands consist mainly of high plateaus
and broken-in places by hills, low mountain ridges, and gorges. Grasses
or forest cover most of the plateaus, but some have fertile lands for crops.

The southern part is most likely the most heavily populated part in all

Australia, from Brisbane to Melbourne. In the southern region lie the Australian

Alps. The Murray River, Australia's only river that constantly flows from
the Alps, is the longest river.

Australia's second major region, the central
lowlands, is generally a flat area with infrequent rainfall along the north
and south coasts and near the eastern highlands. Farmers in the southern
region grow wheat but most of the region is to hot or to dry for crops.

However the course grass or shrubs that cover the land make it suitable
for livestock. The two large towns in the region have fewer than 30,000

Australia's third major region, the western
plateau, covers the western two thirds of Australia. A vast, dry, treeless
plateau extends about 400 miles along the regions southern edge; while
the central part is mostly desert. A lot of the desert area consists of
swirling sands that often drift into giant dunes. In places the desert
gives way to land covered by grass and shrubs. Grazing livestock can then
use the land. The north and south has the regions heaviest rainfall. The
regions two largest cities are Adelaide and Perth.

The Outback

The bush, as the Australians call it,
refers to the countryside. The term outback refers specifically to the
interior of the country, with is mainly open countryside including vast
expanses of grazing land. About 13 percent of Australia's people live in
these rural areas. Many people live extremely isolated lives on sheep and
cattle ranches called stations. Some of the largest stations cover more
than 1,000 square miles from the nearest town.

The outback has few paved roads so travel
by car is difficult or impossible. Floods sometimes close roads for weeks
at a time. Most wealthy farm families own a light airplane, which they
use to travel to town. Other families get to town only a few times a year
making it difficult to maintain necessities.

The largest settlements in rural Australia
are widely spread towns that have developed to support mining towns. For
example, Kalgoorie, a town in western Australia, is the center of Australia's
major gold and nickel fields. The