Australia is a continent that many people are fascinated with, and for good reason. It is full of sites and places that thousands of tourists flock to each year.
But there is more to Australia than just a lot of things to see. There are many interesting historical and present day facts about Australia, including:
Australia was home to thousands of prisoners.
When the British began to settle Australia in the late 1700s, their main motivation for doing so was to establish a land to send their prisoners to. The common practice of that time was to send convicts and prisoners (typically those who owed money or defied the government in some way) to the American colonies to work for a period of seven to fourteen years. However, when the British lost control of the American colonies, they had no place to send their prisoners until James Cook, the first Englishman to chart and explore Australia, suggested it as a suitable place. As a result, thousands of British prisoners were sent to Australia, where they eventually were set free and allowed the colonies to prosper. Now, about twenty five percent of Australians have ancestors who were convicts.
There were originally over 200 languages in Australia.
Australia was first inhabited over 40,000 years ago by Aboriginal people. These tribes of Aborigines in the states and across the country spoke over 200 languages and dialects. However, more than half of these dialects are now extinct, as over ninety percent of the original Aborigines were killed when the British settled the continent, mostly as a result of diseases the Europeans brought over.
Australia is the smallest continent in the world.
Australia can claim itself as a country, continent, and island. While it is the smallest continent in the world, it is also the largest island in the world. In addition, Australia is the only country in the world that makes up an entire continent. The majority of the people in Australia live in the large coastal cities because over ninety percent of Australia is actually dry and flat, and about three quarters of the land can’t support any type of agriculture.
Australia is famous for its sheep.
The population of Australia is more sheep than people; in fact, there are roughly ten sheep in Australia for every person. As a result, Australia is the largest exporter in the world of lamb meat and wool.
Australia’s most famous animals are unique to Australia only.
When many people think of wildlife in Australia, they think of such animals as koala bears and kangaroos. Because Australia is an island and not connected to any other land, it has developed its own wildlife. The kangaroo, koala bear, emu, and kookaburra are animals that are only found in the wild in Australia.
Australia is a smart country.
Presently, Australia claims to have a 100% literacy rate, one of the highest in the world. Perhaps this is why they read more newspapers per capita than any country in the world.
Australians love to gamble.
Per capita, Australians spend more money on gambling than any other country in the world. And although they make up less than one percent of the total population of the world, Australia has over twenty percent of the world’s poker machines.
As you can see from these few facts, Australia is a country that is full of interesting facts, both from the past as well as the present. For more Australia visit Australia at “Surfing the Net with Kids.”