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Geography of Australia

Physical Geography
Location
The Commonwealth of Australia, or Australia, is the only country in the world which is also a continent by itself. The island nation is bound by the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Across the water, its neighbors are Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Timor Leste to the North, and New Zealand to the southeast.

The geographic coordinates of the country are 27 degrees 00 minutes south, and 133 degrees and 00 minutes east. On the mainland, the northernmost point of the country is Cape York in Queensland, while the southernmost point is South Point in Victoria, and the easternmost point is Cape Byron in New South Wales, while the westernmost point is Steep Point in Western Australia.

Australia is divided into three time-zones; These are AEST-Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC +10), ACST-Australian Central Standard Time (UTC +9.5) and AWST- Australian Western Standard Time (UTC +8).

Daylight Saving Time is practiced in Australia during the warmer months of the year, and begins on the first Sunday of October. Standard Time returns on the first Sunday of April each year. With the clock set forward by one hour, the names of the time zones also change to AEDT-Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC +11) and ACDT-Australian Central Daylight Time (UTC +10.5). In the third time-zone covering Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia, daylight saving time is not observed.

Physiography
The total area of Australia is 2.97 million square miles (7,692,024 sq km), and it is the sixth largest country in the world by area.

Australia is also the only continent without any glaciers. The low plateaus and the deserts are characteristic of the general flatness and dryness of the country. But fertile plains are found in the southeast. A very distinctive feature of the country is its vast coastline.

The highest point in the country is Mount Kosciuszko, in New South Wales, which is 7,309 feet, (2,228 m) high, while the lowest point is Lake Eyre in South Australia which lies 49 feet (15 m) below sea level.

Climate
The northern part of Australia is quite warm or hot throughout the year since it lies in the tropics; the central part is arid and dry; while the southern part of the country has warm summers and cool winters.

Since the country is a very large island, its climate is influenced by various factors, especially the surrounding oceans. The annual temperature ranges from as low as below just below freezing, to as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The coastal parts of northeastern Australia experience the maximum rainfall in the country, with almost 80% of the country receiving less than 24 inches (600 mm) of rainfall per year. Thus, most of the country, except the coastal areas, are relatively arid.

In general terms, four seasons can be distinguished in Australia, however since the continent lies in the southern hemisphere, the timings of the seasons is different from that in the northern hemisphere. Thus, spring is from September to November, summer is from December to February, autumn is from March to May, and winter is from June to August.

Hydrology
The rivers in Australia are different from those in other countries on two accounts; most of them are located near the coast, and most are seasonal due to the lack of high mountains in the country. The major rivers of the country are the Murray River, Murrumbidgee River, Darling River, Lachlan River, Warrego River, Cooper Creek, and Paroo River.

Most lakes in Australia are quite shallow and dry up during the summer months, with very few being permanent lakes. Some of the largest lakes in the country are: Lake Gairdner, Lake Torrens, Lake Eyre, and Lake Frome in South Australia; Lake Carnegie, Lake Macleod, Lake Moore, and Lake Mackay, Lake Wells in Western Australia; and Lake Amadeus in the Northern Territory.

Some other prominent lakes are; Rason Lake, Lake Gregory, Lake Disappointment, Lake Austin, and Lake Barlee.

Biodiversity
Australia is believed to be home to over a million different species of plants and animals, and many are not found anywhere else in the world.

Iconic flora of Australia includes; the hummock grasslands, as well as trees belonging to the genera of Acacia, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Grevillea, and Allocasuarina. While iconic fauna are the Kangaroo, Koala, Echidna, Dingo, Platypus, Wallaby, and Wombat.

National Parks
Australia has more than 500 National Parks, spread over the 28 million hectares of land. Six National Parks are managed by the Australian Government, while the rest are looked after by the respective states and territories. These six Commonwealth National Parks are: Booderee National Park, New South Wales; Christmas Island National Park, Christmas Island; Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory; Norfolk Island National Park, Norfolk Island; Pulu Keeling National Park, Cocos (Keeling) Islands; and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory.

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Last Updated on: January 4th, 2018