Geography of Australia

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Australia is located in Oceania, a continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Its geographic coordinates are 27 00 S, 133 00 E.

Area: total: 7,741,220 square kilometers; land: 7,682,300 square kilometers, including Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island.; water: 58,920 square kilometers. Ranking compared to other countries in the world: 7. It is slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Australia is the world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; the largest country in Oceania, the largest country entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, and the largest country without land borders. Australia is the only continent without glaciers; it is the driest inhabited continent on earth, making it particularly vulnerable to the challenges of climate change.

Land Boundaries: total: 0 kilometers; Coastline: 25,760 kilometers; Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles; contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin.

Land Use: agricultural land: 46.65 percent (2018 estimate). Arable Land: 4.03 percent (2018 estimate); permanent crops: 0.04 percent (2018 estimate); permanent pasture: 42.58 percent (2018 estimate); forest: 17.42 percent (2018 estimate); other: 33.42 percent (2018 estimate). Irrigated Land: 15,210 square kilometers (2020)

Climate: generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north. The invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast and is one of the most consistent winds in the world; Australia is home to 10 percent of the world's biodiversity, and a great number of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else in the world

Natural Hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

Geographical Features

Topography:mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast. Elevation: highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,228 meters; lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 meters; mean elevation: 330 meters. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

The Great Dividing Range that runs along eastern Australia is that continent’s longest mountain range and the third-longest land-based range in the world; the term "Great Dividing Range" refers to the fact that the mountains form a watershed crest from which all of the rivers of eastern Australia flow – east, west, north, and south

Major Lakes (area square kilometers) fresh water lake(s): Lake Alexandrina: 570 square kilometers; salt water lake(s): Lake Eyre: 9,690 square kilometers; Lake Torrens (ephemeral): 5,780 square kilometers; Lake Gairdner: 4,470 square kilometers; Lake Mackay (ephemeral): 3,494 square kilometers; Lake Frome: 2,410 square kilometers; Lake Amadeus (ephemeral): 1,032 square kilometers.

Major Rivers (by length in kilometers): River Murray: 2,508 kilometers; Darling River: 1,545 kilometers; Murrumbidgee River: 1,485 kilometers; Lachlan River: 1,339 kilometers; Cooper Creek: 1,113 kilometers; Flinders River: 1,004 kilometers.

Major Watersheds (area square kilometers): Indian Ocean drainage: (Great Australian Bight) Murray-Darling (1,050,116 square kilometers); Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Lake Eyre (1,212,198 square kilometers); Major Aquifers: Great Artesian Basin, Canning Basin.

Volcanoes: volcanic activity on Heard and McDonald Islands

Image Sources:

Text Sources: CIA World Factbook, 2023; “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 2: Oceania,” edited by Terence E. Hays, 1991, Wikipedia, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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