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Australia (officially the Commonwealth of Australia) is a sovereign country with essential ties to the United Kingdom. The capital is Canberra, although many people forget that and believe that the capital is Sydney! As part of the British Commonwealth, it comprises the Australian continent mainland, Tasmania, and a number of smaller islands. This is Oceania´s largest country, and it is the world’s sixth-largest country by area. Nearby nations to the north are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor. Northeast takes you to The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Additionally, new Zealand is to the southeast.

Aboriginal Australians

Before the first British settlement in the late 18th-century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians. However, archaeologists believe that the first inhabitants arrived about 60,000 years ago. Native Australian rock art is the oldest and most vibrant in the world, spread across hundreds of thousands of different locations. Aboriginal Australians are still very much part of the population. Aboriginal tribes are still dominant in some remote areas of the country. Their customs and tribal laws are practised in many areas. Nonetheless, and despite modern governments’ change of viewpoint and efforts it is still taking time for the Aborigines to gain equality among Australia’s communities.

Dutch explorers

Dutch explorers discovered the continent, in 1606. Subsequently, Great Britain claimed Australia’s eastern half in 1770. The settlers arrived on the shores of New South Wales to form a penal colony on 26 January 1788.

A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s. Subsequently, a boost to both the population and the economy occurred. Nevertheless, the population density of only 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest worldwide, due to the vast size of the continent.

Modern Australia

Modern Australia maintains a stable liberal democratic political system. The federal constitutional monarchy comprises six states and several territories. HRH Queen Elizabeth II of England is the reigning monarch, but the leader of the government is the Prime Minister. Australia has the world’s ninth largest immigrant population. Immigrants account for nearly 30% of the population.

Geography and climate

It is the driest and flattest inhabited continent in the world. Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. Within this vast area are a wide variety of landscapes and climates. The centre is a desert. There are tropical rainforests in the north-east. Mountain ranges grace the south-east including the famous Blue Mountains.

Sailing in Australia

With its many harbours and superb coastline, Australia is hard to beat for sailing choice. The Whitsunday Islands close to the Barrier Reef are a well-trod path for holiday sailors and local Australians alike. You are as likely to see sharks as much as dolphins, and the reef itself is breathtaking. Yachts and sports boats fill every waterway in New South Wales. Likewise Perth, on the other side of the country, is a top sailing destination. Superyachts grace most major city harbours. Australian´s take their sailing very seriously, especially since Australia won the America´s cup in 1983. Thus, the longest reigning champions, the Americans, lost their title.