Australia is the world’s sixth largest country, stretching 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) from east to west and 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) from north to south. It has a population of more than 20 million people who have settled mainly around the coastal strip.

Because of the size of the country, the climate varies depending on location. In the northern parts of Australia (e.g. Darwin in the Northern Territory), the weather is tropical – generally hot and humid for most of the year. In the southern parts of Australia (e.g. Melbourne in Victoria), the weather is cold in winter and hot in summer.


Australia is a tolerant, multicultural society with people from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Nearly a quarter of Australia’s population was born overseas. Almost one in every five Australian come from non-English speaking backgrounds and more than 200 different languages are spoken. The official language is English.

Australia is broken into six states (Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and two territories (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory – ACT).
The country has three levels of government; the Federal government (the Commonwealth) looks after matters concerning the whole of Australia (e.g. Immigration, Foreign Affairs, Taxation). The eight state and territory governments look after the affairs of each state or territory (e.g. health, industry regulations and development). Numerous local councils look after the day to day running of smaller local areas within the states.