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1.4 Australia

Australia was the last great landmass discovered by the Europeans. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Australia. It is an island continent. Australia is the world’s 6th largest country.

Mining, industry and agriculture are Australia’s most important sources of income. More recently, tourism has become important, too. Tourists come to enjoy Australia’s warm climate, to see the unique animals, such as the kangaroo, the koala and the platypus.

Australia has a population of 22 million people (as of 2008). Many of Australia’s inhabitants are of British origin, and this can be seen in many aspects of Australian life. English is the national language, cricket is the national game. In recent years, however, most immigrants have come from other European countries such as Italy, Greece and Poland, or from Asian countries. Only about one per cent of the inhabitants are Aborigines.

Some of the best architecture in Australia can be found in its capital, Canberra, founded in 1913. The whole city is fascinating because it is totally planned and orderly. Canberra has the population of 345 thousand people (as of 2008). The largest cities are Sydney (4.4 million people), Melbourne (3.8), Brisbane (1.9), Perth (1.6), Adelaide (1.2).

The Head of Government is the Prime Minister, but the Head of State is still the British monarch.

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1.5 Ausralia’s Unique History

Captain James Cook discovered Australia in1770. He was sent to discover the huge land that many people believed was south of the equator. He landed south of present day Sydney. He claimed this part of the land for the King of England.

At this time England had many social problems. Unemployment was high. Crime was one of the greatest problems. The government punished people by sending them to prison. England decided to send prisoners to the far colonies. They could work in the new colonies and eventually earn their freedom. In 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip commanded eleven ships to Australia. About 750 of the 1000 people on the ships were convicts. These first settlers were greeted by the Aborigines, the first inhabitants of Australia.

Great Britain claimed all Australia in 1827. In 1851 gold was discovered west of Sydney. People rushed to the gold fields to find their fortunes.

In1901 Australia became a nation within the British Empire under Queen Victoria’s rule. It was called the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1931 Australia gained independence from Great Britain.

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1.6 New Zealand

New Zealand stretches 1600 km from north to south. It consists of two large islands, its native flora and fauna are, for the most part, not found anywhere else in the world. The most famous bird is kiwi, the country’s symbol.

New Zealand is a modern country with a high standard of living. Tourism, service industries, manufacturing, small-scale industry and agriculture are all highly important in the NZ economy. Much of the land in the country is devoted to pasture, and agricultural products such as sheep, cattle, fish and forestry products are NZ’s chief exports. Farming is a scientific business in New Zealand, where the most modern scientific farming methods are used.

New Zealand’s population of 4.5 million people is comprised of people of European origin, Maori and Asians. The capital of the country is Wellington. It is often called Windy Wellington, because it is the windiest place of the island. Its population is about 400 thousand people (as of 2009).

New Zealanders place a high value on education. The country has several universities, a number of teachers’ training and polytechnical colleges and also agricultural colleges.

The country is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elisabeth II as the head of the state and the Prime Minister as the head of government. English and Maori are two official languages.

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