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Australia is an island continent lying southeast of Asia between Indian Ocean on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east. The island of Tasmania forms part of the Australian Commonwealth.
Australia is divided into four topographic regions: the low narrow plain along the coast, the eastern highlands, the central plains, and the arid western plateau.
There are two big deserts here, namely, the Great Sandy Desert and Great Victoria Desert. The only fertile western area is Swanland, which has a Mediterranean climate, and the southeast, which has some rainfall throughout the year. The country has two big rivers: the Murray and the Darling.
Australia is not densely populated. Within its extensive area there are only 15 million inhabitants, mostly of British origin. There are 125 000 aborigines living in Australia, which are its original inhabitants. The principal religion is Christianity.
The Commonwealth of Australia is an independent self-governing country within the British Commonwealth. It has a federal parliamentary government. Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, represented by a governor-general, is Head of State.
The capital, Canberra, is the seat of the Federal Parliament, which consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The largest cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. There are 10 universities in Australia. The oldest of them are Sydney and Melbourne Universities.
Australia is an important wool growing country and ranks as one of the leading producers of meat and dairy products. Mining plays an important role in the country’s export trade. Principal exported minerals are gold, lead, copper, silver and zinc. Australia has gradually changed its orientation from Europe and the USA to the Asian countries, which have registered a great economic development.
The Pacific coast beeches of Australia are attractive for tourists who visit the country in growing numbers.

Canberra has been the capital of the Commonwealth of Australia since the federal Parliament moved there from Melbourne. Canberra is situated on the southeastern part of Australia. The population of Canberra is 260 00 people. All it‘s important buildings are relatively new and include the Australian National University, National Library of Australia, High Court of Australia and the Australian National Gallery.

Sydney is the largest city and the chief port of Australia. It lies in Port Jackson Bay, which is crossed by the long and famous bridge called the Harbour Bridge. The well known Opera House lies in the bay near the bridge. Sydney has two universities – Sydney University and University of South Wales. There are numerous skyscrapers in Sydney. The tower named Centre Point is 305 meters high and is the highest building in the southern hemisphere. Sydney has nearly 3 million inhabitants. Sydney is rich in parks and it also has the Royal Botanic Garden with many exotic plants.

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