Australia in brief

Australia is a large island continent in the south-western Pacific, south of the Asian landmass. It is a Federation of six states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia) and two Territories (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory). The difference being that, while the states have always had an independent existence, the territories were once administered directly by the Federal Government. They are now independent and self-governing. The Australian flag shows the Federation or Commonwealth Star, below the Union Jack in the bottom left corner (the hoist). It has only seven points, indicating the number of states in 1908 when the flag was proclaimed by King Edward VII. The Australian Capital Territory was founded later as the national capital, but the star was not updated.

At the time of this writing, 2016, the population of Australia is a little over 24 million, and is a mixture of people from virtually every country on earth. Most of the people live in cities dotted around the coast or are gathered in the cities in the eastern states where the population density is highest. Much of the centre and west of the country is desert with only scattered towns and few permanent residents.

On 22 August 1770, Captain James Cook, aboard HMS Endeavour, claimed Australia for Britain. The First Fleet of settlers arrived in 1788. Australia soon became a dumping-ground for transported British convicts, a heritage that has long had an influence on many Australians’ views of law and order. Australia’s legislative and legal systems follow closely the British model of Parliament and Common Law, although there have been some changes over time to suit local conditions.

Currently there is an on-going disagreement between the Republicans, who want to replace the Queen as Head of State with an elected President, and the Monarchists who want to retain the Queen as Head of State. Part of the problem for the Republicans is that it would require extensive changes to the Constitution, which would have to go to a referendum of the people. Most Australians are loath to allow politicians to meddle with the Constitution, so very few amendments have ever been accepted.

Most Australians don’t have much enthusiasm for politics or religion. Both are pretty boring here, anyway. Neither shows anything much in the way of radicalism, enthusiasm or exciting oratory. They tend to form a dull background to life that most people ignore most of the time.

Australians follow the British example and drive on the left.

This has been only a brief account of a few things that have occurred to me as I sit here writing. Since I don’t know your interests I can’t really delve deeper into suitable topics. All I’ve tried to do is provide a bit of background that might help you with later stories. If you want to know more about Australia, its people and its culture, there’s plenty of sites on the internet that will provide that information for you. Some of the topics I have mentioned here will surely arise again later, as I start writing my stories about Australia and the Australian people.

Stay tuned and come back for more.

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