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The flag of Australia is the only one to fly over a whole continent. The small Union Jack represents the historical link with Britain, the large seven-pointed star represents the six States and Territories, and the small stars from the Southern Cross – a prominent feature of the southern hemisphere night sky. Australia's coat of arms – the official emblem of the Australian Government – was granted by George V in 1912. The arms consist of a shield containing the badges of the six states. The supporters are native Australian fauna – a kangaroo and an emu. A yellow-flowered native plant, wattle, also appears in the design.
History of Australia. Captain James Cook discovered Australia in 1770. He was sent to discover the huge land many people believed was south of the equator. He landed south of present day Sydney in New South Wales. He claimed this part of the land for the King of England. In 1851 gold was discovered about 300 km west of Sydney. People rushed to the gold fields to find their fortunes. This attracted robbers called bushrangers.
Australia Today. Australia is continent, a country and an island all at the same time. It is the sixth largest country and the smallest in the world. Australia is located in the southern hemisphere. That is why it has summer when we have winter and it has winter when we have summer. It is interesting to know that January is the hottest month in Australia. Australia is situated south of Asia, between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Australia is the world’s continent. Huge areas of land are so dry that they are uninhabited. There are rainforests in the north, snowfields in the south-east, desert in the centre and fertile croplands in the south and south-west. Australia is also the flattest continent after Antarctica.
Australia is a very urban country. About 70 per cent of the populations live in the 10 largest cities. Most of the population is in the south-eastern corner of the country and only 15 per cent of the population live in rural areas. Canberra is the capital of Australia. It is not the biggest city. Sydney and Melbourne are much larger. The state of Tasmania is separated from the continent of Australia. It is an island-state. Australians love their wildlife. The Australian government pays a lot of attention to the preservation of the environment. In the past many trees had been cut down. The government plans that by the year 2000 one billion new trees will have been planted. They have already planted 550 million trees. Now trees are being planted all over Australia.
Australians also love sports. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that has participated in all of the Olympic games since they were organized. The Olympic games were held in Melbourne in 1956 and will be held in Sydney in the 2000. Australia is a multicultural society with about a quarter of the population foreign born. Settles from about 200 countries have made Australia their home. Aborigines now comprise only 1.5 per cent of the population.
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