Australia is the smallest continent in the world. It is a thinly populated continent due to the fact that it is also the ‘driest continent’. Despite these facts, Australia is economically a well developed country and a continent. The native dwellers were a dark-skinned people known as Aborigines. These people were living in Australia for over 30,000 years before the British settlers made it their colony. At present Aborigines represent only 1% of the total country’s population. During the 19th century, when gold was discovered in Australia, many European settlers migrated to this continent. Thus, the vast majority of Australians are white settlers who came from Europe, mainly UK and also immigrants from Asia and other parts of the world have been attracted by high-paying jobs in this country.
The Aborigines in Australia are poor, backward and lead a nomadic life. They mostly mareas around temperate grasslands. Their main activities are animal rearing, hunting food gathering. The later settlers and immigrants, however, preferred to live in areas where live and the conditions are favourable, such as good climate, sufficient rainfall, fertile soil and proper transport and found along the coastal region and in Tasmania. These Do you know? communication facilities. Such conditions are mainly Australia has the largest number of sheep in the world regions are most populated. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are some of the most populated cities of Australia located in the coastal region.
Only about 6% of the total land of Australia is under forests. It is mainly found in the Eastern Highlands and in the wetter coastal plains. Most of the forested area in Australia has cucalyptus forest except the North-East coast which has tropical rainforests. The cucalyptus tree found in these forests is used for extracting oil used in medicine, paper and furniture.
Only 4% of the total land in Australia is under cultivation. Agriculture is mainly practiced in South West, South-East and Eastern coastal plains of Australia where there is enough rainfall. Farmers use scientific methods of farming in the limited land for larger output. Wheat is the most common food crops of Australia. New South Wales is the main wheat growing area. Barley, maize and oats are other food crops grown in Australia. Rice is grown in irrigated land areas while sugarcane, tobucos and cotton are grown in Queensland.
SHEEP AND CATTLE REARING
Australia is known for sheep and cattle rearing. It has the largest number of sheep in the world and produces about 30% of the world’s total wool. Some of the breeds of sheep which produce best wool thrive well in temperate parts of Australia. The main sheep-rearing states are New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia. Australia is the largest exporter of sheep in the world.
Cattle rearing is also an important occupation in Australia. Large herds of cattle are reared for meat and dairy products. Cattle raised for meat (beef) are reared in the Savanna grasslands of Queensland and Northern Territory and temperate grasslands of New South Wales. Dairy cattle, on the other hand, raised for milk are reared in the regions where temperature is mild and rainfall is moderate, such as, coastal New South Wales, Southern Queensland and Victoria. The milk produced in the dairy farms in these regions is converted into butter, cheese! milk and condensed milk.
Australia has rich deposits of gold and other minerals like copper, zinc, iron, lead, coal. tin, silver, aluminium and petroleum. Gold is mined in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in Northern Territory, coal in New South Wales, Queensland and South-West Australia, iron ore in Western Australia, zinc in Broken Hill in New South Wales, uranium in Northern Territory and South Australia, petroleum in Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia and natural gas in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
Iron and steel, motor vehicles and ship building are the major industries of Australia. Murray Darling Basin and Central Lowlands are suitable for commercial wheat farming. Australia exports wheat, wool, meat and iron. Around 80% to 85% of the total population lives in the South East of Australia. One of the biggest projects of the world, Snowy Murray Development Project is established in Australia. In this project the water of Snowy River has been taken to Murray Basin for generating hydroelectricity and for irrigation Murray-1 and Murray-2 hydro-power projects generate 950 mw and 550 mw of electricity respectively. For these projects the water has been taken by making a tunnel through the Great Dividing Range.
Australia and New Zealand have utilized most of the available natural resources for their economic growth. Facilities of transport, communication, education and health are well developed in all the settlement areas. People living in the urban areas are very energetic and hardworking. Australians like to enjoy and entertain during the weekends.