10 Cool Facts About Australia You Might Not Know
Australia as a country has a lot going for it. Not only is it the only country that’s also a continent, it’s also a land full of riches and oddities. From its myriad of beaches to its vast outback desert, there’s a lot going on in Australia.
Here are ten fun facts about Australia that you probably don’t know.
- Australia has the largest concentration of natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. These include many that are world famous like the Great Barrier Reef that lies just off Australia’s coast as well as Fraser Island (the largest sand island in the world). Uluru (or Ayer’s Rock) stands defiantly in the dry interior while only a few hundred kilometers north the vast wetlands of Kakadu National Park with it’s large crocodile population covers over 5 million acres.
- Speaking of water, Australia is home to one of the strangest mammals ever discovered: The duck-billed, beaver-tailed, web-footed, egg laying, warm blooded platypus. You can find this unique mammal in several rivers, streams and lakes around the country and though they’re very shy, they’re not too hard to find. Probably the strangest thing about this little creature is that on top of all that, it’s also venomous! The platypus has a pair of spurs on it’s hind legs that can give a painful (though not fatal) injection.
- At over 24,000 square kilometers or 6,000,000 acres, Anna Creek Station in South Australia is eight times bigger than the fabled King Ranch in the USA and is larger than Israel. Considering it’s nearly the same size as Belgium, what’s amazing is that this gigantic ranch usually has less than a dozen workers at any time!
- Australia not only has the worlds largest cattle ranch, it’s also one of the largest sheep and cattle exporters in the world. There are twice as many sheep in the country as there are people and nearly as much cattle.
- In terms of population density, Australia is one of the least populated countries in the world. When you consider that over a third of Australia is a desert and that 90% of the population lives along it’s coastline, you can literally drive for hours in the center of the outback without seeing another living being.
- Australia is a multicultural country. Nearly one in four Australians were born outside of Australia with English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, German, Chinese, Indian and Greek descent accounting for the vast majority of foreign nationals. Over 80% of the country originates from European ancestry with the remaining population having Asian heritage. Amazingly, the original indigenous population only accounts for a few percent of that total.
- Though the Europeans and Asians have only been in Australia for the past few hundred years, the indigenous people of Australia have inhabited Australia for around 50,000 years. With almost 600 indigenous dialects, of which 250 to 300 were commonly spoken, only 20 aren’t considered to be endangered.
- Australia, often referred to as an island continent, has almost 50,000 kilometers of coastline and over 10,000 beaches. With so much coastline, and fantastic Australian islands to explore, it’s easy to understand why the vast amount of the population lives within an hour’s drive of the beach.
- Next to Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent on the planet. With some areas receiving less than 81 mm (three inches) of rain per year, it’s easy to see why. Especially when the majority of the country is desert or semi-arid.
- In terms of fauna, Australia has a penchant for poisonous things. From snakes and spiders to jellyfish and stingrays, Australia has some of the most poisonous fauna in the world. For instance, 20 out of the top 25 venomous snakes can be found in Australia and the box jellyfish found just off the north eastern coast is often considered one of the most poisonous things on the planet. That being said, Oz also has some of the cutest animals in the world. Kangaroos and their smaller brethren, wallabies can often be seen bouncing in the distance and koalas are definitely natures teddy bears. As well as those three they have sugar gliders in the upper trees and Australia has the largest population of possum’s in the world.
Photo of Uluru by Cornelia Kopp on Flickr.