It's all about Australia

Note:Here are some infomation about Australia. I’ll be glad if it’s useful for you. There are three parts. They are introduction, environment and culture(Including arts, media, cuisine and sport).You can check “next page” to view next part. -AirScript

Copyright © AirScript(Some parts created by Wikipedia.)

Australia /əˈstreɪljə, ɒ-, -iə/

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, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.

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Flag of Australia

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Coat of arms of Australia

For at least 40,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who spoke languages grouped into roughly 250 language groups. After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

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Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories. The population of 23.6 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states and on the coast.

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Government House, Canberra, also known as “Yarralumla”, is the official residence of the Governor-General.

Australia is a developed country and one of the wealthiest in the world, with the world’s 12th-largest economy. In 2012 Australia had the world’s fifth-highest per capita income, Australia’s military expenditure is the world’s 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

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Environment

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests, and is recognised as a megadiverse country. Fungi typify that diversity; an estimated 250,000 species—of which only 5% have been described—occur in Australia. Because of the continent’s great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia’s biota is unique and diverse. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds, and 89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemic. Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any country, with 755 species.

A koala holding onto a eucalyptus tree with its head turned so both eyes are visible

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The koala and the eucalyptus form an iconic Australian pair.

Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions, wattles replace them in drier regions and deserts as the most dominant species. Among well-known Australian animals are the monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra. Australia is home to many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world. The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 BCE. Many animal and plant species became extinct soon after first human settlement, including the Australian megafauna; others have disappeared since European settlement, among them the thylacine.

Many of Australia’s ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced animal, chromistan, fungal and plant species. All these factors have led to Australia having the highest mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species. Numerous protected areas have been created under the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity to protect and preserve unique ecosystems; 65 wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention, and 16 natural World Heritage Sites have been established. Australia was ranked 51st of 163 countries in the world on the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.

Protection of the environment is also a major political issue. In 2007, the First Rudd Government signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Nevertheless, Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita are among the highest in the world, lower than those of only a few other industrialised nations. Rainfall in Australia has slightly increased over the past century, both nationwide and for two quadrants of the nation. According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s 2011 Australian Climate Statement, Australia had lower than average temperatures in 2011 as a consequence of a La Niña weather pattern, however, “the country’s 10-year average continues to demonstrate the rising trend in temperatures, with 2002–2011 likely to rank in the top two warmest 10-year periods on record for Australia, at 0.52 °C above the long-term average”.

Water restrictions are frequently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localised drought. Throughout much of the continent, major flooding regularly follows extended periods of drought, flushing out inland river systems, overflowing dams and inundating large inland flood plains, as occurred throughout Eastern Australia in 2010, 2011 and 2012 after the 2000s Australian drought.

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Culture

Since 1788, the basis of Australian culture has been strongly influenced by Anglo-Celtic Western culture. Distinctive cultural features have also arisen from Australia’s natural environment and Indigenous cultures. Since the mid-20th century, American popular culture has strongly influenced Australia, particularly through television and cinema. Other cultural influences come from neighbouring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations.

Arts

Australian visual arts are thought to have begun with the cave paintings, rock engravings and body painting of its Indigenous peoples. The traditions of Indigenous Australians are largely transmitted orally, through ceremony and the telling of Dreamtime stories. From the time of European settlement, a major theme in Australian art has been the natural landscape, seen for example in the works of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and others associated with the 19th-century Heidelberg School, the first “distinctively Australian” movement in Western art.

The country’s landscape remains a source of inspiration for Australian modernist artists; it has been depicted in acclaimed works by the likes of Albert Namatjira, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams, Margaret Preston and Clifton Pugh. Contemporary Indigenous Australian art is the only art movement of international significance to emerge from Australia and “the last great art movement of the 20th century”; its exponents have included Emily Kngwarreye. Art critic Robert Hughes has written several influential books about Australian history and art, and was described as the “world’s most famous art critic” by The New York Times. The National Gallery of Australia and state galleries maintain Australian and overseas collections. Australia has one of the world’s highest attendances of art galleries and museums per head of population—far more than Britain or America.

Many of Australia’s performing arts companies receive funding through the federal government’s Australia Council. There is a symphony orchestra in each state, and a national opera company, Opera Australia, well known for its famous soprano Joan Sutherland. At the beginning of the 20th century, Nellie Melba was one of the world’s leading opera singers. Ballet and dance are represented by The Australian Ballet and various state companies. Each state has a publicly funded theatre company.

Australian literature has also been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, and Dorothea Mackellar captured the experience of the Australian bush. The character of the nation’s colonial past, as represented in early literature, is popular with modern Australians. In 1973, Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Australian to have achieved this. Australian winners of the Man Booker Prize have included Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally; David Williamson, David Malouf, and J. M. Coetzee, who recently became an Australian citizen, are also renowned writers, and Les Murray is regarded as “one of the leading poets of his generation”.

Media

The Australian cinema industry began with the 1906 release of The Story of the Kelly Gang, which is regarded as being the world’s first feature-length film; but both Australian feature film production and the distribution of British-made features declined dramatically after World War I as American studios and distributors monopolised the industry, and by the 1930s around 95% of the feature films screened in Australia were produced in Hollywood. By the late 1950s feature film production in Australia had effectively ceased and there were no all-Australian feature films made in the decade between 1959 and 1969.

Thanks to initiatives by the Gorton and Whitlam federal governments, the New Wave of Australian cinema of the 1970s brought provocative and successful films, some exploring the nation’s colonial past, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Breaker Morant, while the so-called “Ocker” genre produced several highly successful urban-based comedy features including The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple. Later hits included Mad Max and Gallipoli. More recent successes included Shine and Rabbit-Proof Fence. Notable Australian actors include Judith Anderson, Errol Flynn, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, and Cate Blanchett.

Australia has two public broadcasters (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service), three commercial television networks, several pay-TV services, and numerous public, non-profit television and radio stations. Each major city has at least one daily newspaper, and there are two national daily newspapers, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review. In 2010, Reporters Without Borders placed Australia 18th on a list of 178 countries ranked by press freedom, behind New Zealand (8th) but ahead of the United Kingdom (19th) and United States (20th). This relatively low ranking is primarily because of the limited diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia; most print media are under the control of News Corporation and Fairfax Media.

Cuisine

The food of Indigenous Australians was largely influenced by the area in which they lived. Most tribal groups subsisted on a simple hunter-gatherer diet, hunting native game and fish and collecting native plants and fruit. The general term for native Australian flora and fauna used as a source of food is bush tucker. The first settlers introduced British food to the continent, and much of that is now considered typical Australian food; the Sunday roast has become an enduring tradition for many Australians. Since the beginning of the 20th century, food in Australia has increasingly been influenced by immigrants to the nation, particularly from Southern European and Asian cultures. Although the country of origin is largely disputed between Australia and New Zealand, the meringue-based dessert pavlova has become an icon of Australian cuisine, popularly served on Christmas Day and usually garnished with fruit and cream. Australian wine is produced in 60 distinct production areas totalling about 160,000 hectares, mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of local climates and soil types. In 1995, an Australian red wine, Penfolds Grange, won the Wine Spectator award for Wine of the Year, the first time a wine from outside France or California achieved this distinction.

Sport

About 24% of Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate in organised sporting activities. Australia has strong international teams in cricket, hockey, netball, rugby league, and rugby union, having been Olympic or world champions at least twice in each sport in the last 25 years for both men and women where applicable. Australia is also powerful in track cycling, rowing, and swimming, having consistently been in the top-five medal-winners at Olympic or World Championship level since 2000. Swimming is the strongest of these sports; Australia is the second-most prolific medal winner in the sport in Olympic history.

Some of Australia’s most internationally well-known and successful sportspeople are swimmers Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Shane Gould, and Ian Thorpe; sprinters Shirley Strickland, Betty Cuthbert, and Cathy Freeman; tennis players Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Evonne Goolagong, and Margaret Court; cricketers Donald Bradman and Shane Warne; three-time Formula One world champion Jack Brabham; five-time motorcycle grand prix world champion Mick Doohan; golfers Greg Norman and Karrie Webb; cyclist Hubert Opperman, prodigious billiards player Walter Lindrum and basketball players Andrew Bogut and Lauren Jackson. Nationally, other popular sports include Australian rules football, horse racing, squash, surfing, soccer, and motor racing. The annual Melbourne Cup horse race and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race attract intense interest.

Australia is one of five nations to have participated in every Summer Olympics of the modern era, and has hosted the Games twice: 1956 in Melbourne and 2000 in Sydney. Australia has also participated in every Commonwealth Games, hosting the event in 1938, 1962, 1982, 2006 and will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Australia hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the annual Australia–New Zealand Bledisloe Cup is keenly watched. The highest-rating television programs include sports telecasts such as the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Rugby League State of Origin, and the grand finals of the National Rugby League and Australian Football League. Skiing in Australia began in the 1860s and snow sports take place in the Australian Alps and parts of Tasmania.

Arnold Knegt

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