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Australia Geography

    Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

    Geographic coordinates: 27 00 S, 133 00 E

    Map references: Oceania

    total: 7,686,850 sq km
    land: 7,617,930 sq km
    water: 68,920 sq km
    note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island

    Area—comparative: slightly smaller than the US

    Land boundaries: 0 km

    Coastline: 25,760 km

    Maritime claims:
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    territorial sea: 12 nm

    Climate: generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north

    Terrain: mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
    highest point: Mount Kosciusko 2,229 m

    Natural resources: bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum

    Land use:
    arable land: 6%
    permanent crops: 0%
    permanent pastures: 54%
    forests and woodland: 19%
    other: 21% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: 21,070 sq km (1993 est.)

    Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts

    Environment—current issues: soil erosion from overgrazing, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; limited natural fresh water resources

    Environment—international agreements:
    party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification

    Geography—note: world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the Doctor" occurs along the west coast in the summer

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)