Australia Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Australia?

Overview:

Australia is a large, comparatively dry, and sparsely inhabited continent, almost as large as the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Australia, the only continent that consists of a single nation, is also the only inhabited continent which is isolated from all others (total coastline exceeds 22,000 miles). Average elevation is about 985 feet, which makes it the flattest continent on earth. Australia has no navigable rivers of any commercial significance.

Geography - note:

world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the Doctor" occurs along the west coast in the summer

Climate:

Australia is a large, comparatively dry, and sparsely inhabited continent, almost as large as the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Australia, the only continent that consists of a single nation, is also the only inhabited continent which is isolated from all others (total coastline exceeds 22,000 miles). Average elevation is about 985 feet, which makes it the flattest continent on earth. This is among the prime reasons for sparse annual rainfall--16.5 inches, which is less than two-thirds the world average (26 inches). Further, the rain falls mainly on coastal regions: forty percent of the surface gets less than 10 inches per year, and annual evaporation exceeds annual rainfall on about three quarters of the land. Overall runoff is less than half that of the Mississippi basin; Australia has no navigable rivers of any commercial significance.


In general, the country is warmer than the U.S. (the northern one-third is in the Tropics, the rest in the Temperate Zone). Temperature extremes are much less pronounced. Sydney's average daytime temperature in the coldest month (July) is 59°F; in the warmest month (January), 81°F.

Australia Use of Natural Resources

Australia Environment

Climate:

Australia is a large, comparatively dry, and sparsely inhabited continent, almost as large as the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Australia, the only continent that consists of a single nation, is also the only inhabited continent which is isolated from all others (total coastline exceeds 22,000 miles). Average elevation is about 985 feet, which makes it the flattest continent on earth. This is among the prime reasons for sparse annual rainfall--16.5 inches, which is less than two-thirds the world average (26 inches). Further, the rain falls mainly on coastal regions: forty percent of the surface gets less than 10 inches per year, and annual evaporation exceeds annual rainfall on about three quarters of the land. Overall runoff is less than half that of the Mississippi basin; Australia has no navigable rivers of any commercial significance.


In general, the country is warmer than the U.S. (the northern one-third is in the Tropics, the rest in the Temperate Zone). Temperature extremes are much less pronounced. Sydney's average daytime temperature in the coldest month (July) is 59°F; in the warmest month (January), 81°F.

Terrain:

mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast

Natural Resources:

bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum

Natural Hazards:

cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

Irrigated Land:

9,830 Square Miles
25,460 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

soil erosion from overgrazing, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; limited natural fresh water resources

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Australia Geography

Geographic Location Oceania
Total Area 2,988,885 Square Miles
7,741,220 Square Kilometers
Land Area 2,966,136 Square Miles
7,682,300 Square Kilometers
Water Area 22,749 Square Miles
58,920 Square Kilometers
Irrigated Land 9,830 Square Miles
25,460 Square Kilometers
Coastline 16,007 Miles
25,760 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 27 00 S, 133 00 E
Terrain mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
Highest Point 2,229 Meters
Highest Point Location Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m
Lowest Point -15 Meters
Lowest Point Location Lake Eyre -15 m
Natural Resources bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Time Zone UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: Australia has three time zones
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in April
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