Interesting Facts about Australia

Interesting Facts About AustraliaAustralia is perhaps the most fascinating country on the planet. The sheer collection of its treasures is endless. From spectacular natural wonders to mind-blowing historical sights, this nation-continent never ceases to amaze. It is no wonder that Australia is a magnet for adventurers, explorers, epicureans and nature buffs who visit it by the millions annually. Here is a selection of the most interesting facts about Australia.

  1. There are over 200 different languages and dialects which are spoken in Australia. This includes 45 indigenous languages, as well non-English languages like Greek, Italian, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Arabic.
  2. Australia is the largest island in the world. Its total size is 7.6 million square kilometers. The entire landmass is considered a continent. Despite its stature as the world’s largest island, it is the smallest continent in the world.
  3. Australia is renowned for its pioneering inventions. Among popular inventions from Australia are plane Black Boxes, penicillin, wine casks, car radios, aspirin, penicillin, smoke alarms, engine lawn mowers, and many others. In recent years, Australians invented the selfie.
  4. Australia’s nickname of “The land down under” arises from its location in the Southern Hemisphere. Thanks to this location, summer runs from December to February (meaning that there’s no snow during Christmas). Also, compared to the Northern Hemisphere, the stars in Australia are upside down.
  5. Australia is the 6th largest country in the world in terms of land mass. It covers a total area of 2,966,200 square miles. The top 5 largest countries in order are Russia, Canada, China, USA, and Brazil.
  6. The name Australia is derived from the Latin word “australis” which means “southern”. The names dates back to a 2nd-century legend of “terra australis incognita” (the unknown southern land). When the explorer Matthew Flinders first encountered the country, he named it Terra Australis. This was later abbreviated into Australia.
  7. The inland taipan – native to Australia’s deserts is considered the most venomous snake in the world. A single bite from this snake can inject enough venom to kill 80 (yes, eighty) fully grown men. This is more than 20 times the potency of the King Cobra’s venom.
  8. Australia is the country which has the largest number of deserts in the world. It has a total of 10 deserts which cover 18% of the country’s mainland. However, because of receiving extremely low rainfall, approximately 35% of the country could as well be termed a desert.
  9. The largest desert in Australia is the Great Victorian Desert. Located in Western Australia, it covers 4.5% of the country’s mainland. At 348,750 square kilometers in size, this desert is 1.4 times the size of the UK.
  10. Australia is the country with the largest number of plant species in the world. It has over 25,000 known plant species. Comparatively, the whole of Europe has around 17,500 and the United States has 18,000 plant species. To make matters even more amazing, new plant species are still being discovered.
  11. In 2012, Qantas Airways flew a commercial flight from Sydney to Adelaide powered by cooking oil. The flight was part of a Qantas experiment to test whether biofuels are an effective alternative to conventional aviation fuel.
  12. Australia is home to the world’s monotremes. A monotreme is an animal which lays eggs, but then suckles its young. The only two monotremes in the world are the echidna and platypus. The platypus isn’t found in any other country in the world besides Australia. The echidna is found in Papua New Guinea only.
  13. The most deadly spider in the world is found in Australia. The Sydney Funnelweb is the only spider whose poison can kill a grown man in less than 2 hours. The Funnelweb spider’s fangs are so strong that they can penetrate through a person’s fingernails.
  14. Australia boasts of the world’s longest fence. Known as the Dingo Fence, it is approximately 5,400 kilometers and runs from Jimbor in Queensland to the Great Australian Blight in South Australia. This fence is twice as long as the Great Wall of China. It was initially built to keep wild dogs (dingoes) away from fertile land.
  15. Located in South Australia, the Anna Creek Station is the largest cattle ranch in the world. At 6,000,000 acres (8,000 square kilometers), it is seven times larger than King Ranch – the largest ranch in the US. In fact, Anna Creek Station is larger than Israel.
  16. The Australian Outback is considered one of the best star-gazing locations in the world. On a clear night, the naked eye can detect close to 5,780 stars.
  17. The Box Jelly Fish, native to Australia, is considered one of the deadliest marine creatures on the planet. It is renowned for its extremely potent venom. In Australia, box jelly fish have killed more people than sharks, crocodiles and stonefish (another venomous fish) combined.
  18. Australia boasts of having the longest straight section of road and railway in the world. The longest straight section of road is 146 km and the longest straight section of railway is 478 km. Both cross the Nullarbor Plain which runs from South to Western Australia.
  19. In 1954, the Australian Prime Minister – Bob Hawkes – entered the Guinness Book of Records for his beer guzzling prowess. He sculled (drank in a swig) 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. He later credited his feat for enabling him to win an election.
  20. The Queensland lungfish is considered the oldest living fossil in the world. Also known as the Australian lungfish, Burnett salmon or barramunda, this fish has been in existence since the Triassic period – some 350 million years ago.
  21. The oldest fossils in the world were discovered in Australia in 2011. The microbial fossils – which were unearthed on a beach in Western Australia – are believed to be 3.4 billion years old.
  22. The Great Barrier Reef – located off-the-coast of Northeastern Australia – is the world’s largest coral reef. Covering a total area of 132, 974 square miles, it is the largest living organism in the world. It is also the only living thing which is visible from outer space.
  23. The male lyrebird, which is native to Australia, is perhaps nature’s greatest imitator. It can mimic the calls of up to 20 birds. On top of that, it can perfectly mimic the sound of a camera shutter, a car alarm, and a chainsaw.
  24. The two creatures found in Australia’s Coat of Arms are the Kangaroo and Emu. The most interesting characteristic of both creatures is that they are incapable of walking backward. As such, they represent Australia’s desire to constantly move forward.
  25. The Kangaroo – Australia’s national emblem – can grow up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) high and weigh up to 90 kg (198lb). However, at the time of its birth a baby kangaroo is often only 1 centimeter in size.
  26. Australia is the world’s biggest gambling nation. Australians spend more money per capita on gambling than any other country. The country is also home to a full 20% of the world’s poker machines.
  27. In 1983, Australians ended the Americans’ 132-year dominance of the America’s sailing cup. For 132 years, no non-American team had ever lifted the trophy. This streak was broken in 1983 by a group of Australians in a yacht aptly-named “Australia II”.
  28. The Eight-Hour Workday was first instituted in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1856. It was instituted following a strike by stonemasons. They insisted in splitting up the day into three i.e. 8 hours for work, 8 for play and 8 for sleep. This has now become an international standard.
  29. The first pictures of the Apollo 11 Moon Walk in 1969 were beamed by the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station. This observatory which was located just out of Canberra provided the world with the first glimpses of the famous spacewalk.
  30. The city of Brisbane in Australia hosts an annual cockroach racing tournament. The event, which attracts competitors from all over the world contains up to 14 events, including a sprint. Participants can either bring their own roaches or buy some from the venue for $5. Winners can pocket up to $2000.
  31. In 1940, one of the most remarkable feats in aviation history occurred in New South Wales, Australia. Two airplanes collided mid-air. Instead of crashing, bursting into flames or bouncing off each other, they got stuck together. In an amazing demonstration of flying skill, the pilots managed to land the planes safely.
  32. The Burning Mountain, in New South Wales, is home to the world’s oldest underground fire. This coal fire which is located 30 meters (100 feet) underground has been burning continuously for the past 5,500 years.
  33. Chinese explorers are believed to have landed in Australia almost 200 years before Europeans. As early as the 1400s, Chinese sailors and fishermen were visiting Australia to get sea cucumbers and trade with the natives.
  34. Australia is home to the largest wild camel population in the world. In 2013, there were over 1 million wild camels. This prompted the government to introduce a culling program which was heavily criticized. The camels are now caught and exported to Saudi Arabia – where they are used for meat.
  35. Australia’s first police force was formed in 1788. Named the Night Watch, its ranks were filled with the best-behaved convicts.
  36. 36 Lake Hillier, which is located on the Recherche Archipelago – off the coast of Western Australia – is one of the most unique lakes in the world. Its water boasts of a bright pink color. No other water body has such a color. Scientists haven’t yet discovered the reason for this strange (but beautiful) pink color.
  37. The Gympie-Gympie, found in Australia’s forests, is considered one of the most dangerous plants. Just toughing it can earn someone an excruciatingly painful sting. This is because the plant is covered with stinging hairs which deliver a powerful neurotoxin to anyone who touches it. This toxin can cause extreme pain, induce vomiting and even kill.
  38. Australia holds the record for the largest victory ever earned in an international football match. In 2001, they trounced American Samoa 31 – 0.
  39. Australia is the largest producer of Opal in the world. Almost 95% of the world’s opal and 99% of the rare black opal are produced in the world.
  40. Despite being one of the largest countries in the world, Australia is one of the most sparsely populated. It has a population density of only 3.3 people per square kilometer. To put this into perspective, the US has 32.3, France has 118, Germany has 226 and the UK has 262 people per square kilometer.

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