Australia (officially, the Commonwealth of Australia) is a country that is composed of the continent and many of the islands south and around the country (Tasmania, etc). It is the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of area. As you will see from the content of this article, Australia is a country that has a very unique history, culture, and geography.
Until the late 18th century, when the country of Great Britain settled it and made it a colony, Australia had thousands of indigenous peoples scattered across the country. Until 1901, the six colonies in this region of the world became a federation, which is what we now know as the Commonwealth of Australia. There are currently over 23 million people living in Australia, the majority of which live in the eastern regions of the country and surrounding the urban areas.
Little do people know, Australia is still a constitutional monarchy under the Queen (currently, the Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, is also the Queen of Australia). The Queen’s “hand” in Australia is known as the Governor-General, but he only steps into government affairs if necessary (1975 was the last time that occurred, and that was only because there was economic and governmental strife that needed to be handled). Alongside the Governor-General, there is an elected parliament, which is overseen by a prime minister. There are 6 states and 2 territories in the country of Australia, each of which has their own parliament as well.
New South Wales
New South Wales (NSW) is one of the states on the eastern side of Australia. It was founded in 1788 and was established as a state when Australia became a commonwealth in 1901. Approximately 7.24 million people live in NSW, most of which live and around the capital city of Sydney. There are eleven universities that are located in this region of Australia, including the University of Sydney, which is the largest and most well known. There are also several universities that are based in other states but have campuses in Australia.
New South Wales has a varied geography. The eastern coast is the Tasman Sea, where there are expansive beaches. There are several regions with long rivers; the Great Dividing Range cuts through the state and forests are found in the southern part of the state. Slopes and plains are located in the western part of the state as well. Most of NSW has a moderate climate in most areas, even though the northern coast is considered to be subtropical.
Within New South Wales is a territory known as the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). This territory was established in 1913, and contains the Australian capital city of Canberra, the Namadgi National Park, and acres upon acres of agricultural land. Canberra is the capital of the federal government of the Commonwealth of Australia, and this area was established for the governance of the country (similar to way that Washington DC was established in the United States).
Queensland (Qld) is the second-largest region in all of Australia. It was founded in 1660, and became an Australian state in 1901 when the country of Australia became recognized as a commonwealth. There are approximately 4.5 million residents in the state of Queensland, and the population is actually evenly distributed throughout the state. Even though the capital, Brisbane, has the most residents, it only accounts for approximately 45% of the state’s population.
The University of Queensland, located in this region, is one of the top 100 universities in the world, and is located in St. Lucia (a suburb of Brisbane, the capital). There are also a handful of other universities in the state as well. The leading industry of Queensland is tourism, due to the state’s proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and the varied landscapes that exist throughout the state. If you decide to go to school in Queensland, you should check out the Gold Coast, also known as Australia’s Theme Park Capital because of the five theme parks located there. There is a lot of variation in climate and topography as you go throughout the state as well. Queensland is a very interesting state, and even if you don’t study there, you should definitely consider visiting there during your time in Australia.
Victoria is in the southeast of Australia. It is the smallest state in terms of area, and also the most densely populated. Most of the population (which is approximately 5.3 million) resides in and around the capital, Melbourne. The geography of Victoria is incredibly diverse. You can find everything from forests to mountains to plains in the Victorian countryside. Much of the Victorian state is temperate, with some semi-arid areas as you go further northwest. Rainfall in Victoria is incredibly high; the only Australian state with more rain than Victoria is Tasmania.
Victoria is a great place for students to go to due to the diversified economy, the immense number of sports teams and stadiums, and the sheer amount of things to do there. There are eight public universities found in Victoria, including the University of Melbourne and Monash University (the largest university in the country). If you, as an international student, decide to go to Victoria for schooling, you won’t be alone – 30% of the state’s student population is made up of international students.
Western Australia is the largest state in Australia, but it has one of the smallest populations. There are approximately 2.4 million people who live in the state, and over 90% of the population lives in the south-western area of the state (near the capital, Perth). Much of the state is either rocky or part of a plateau, which makes it difficult to reside in much of the state. The middle areas of the state are mostly desert and arid climates. If you are studying natural sciences, Western Australia may be a great place for you to consider because of all of the rare plants and animals that reside there. There are currently five universities located in Western Australia. Four of them are public universities, which are located in Perth, and the other is a private Catholic University (the University of Notre Dame).
The Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is in the north-central region of Australia. The Northern Territory is the least populated of all of the Australian states and territories with only about 250,000 people living there. The capital of the Northern Territory is the city of Darwin. Much of the Northern Territory is mountainous and consists of wildlife conservation land. The country only has one university, Charles Darwin University (formerly known as Northern Territory University), which focuses on a variety of higher education and vocational studies.
Tasmania is a state made up of the island of Tasmania, directly south of the state of Victoria, and the 334 islands surrounding it. It is recognized as the southernmost point of the country of Australia. The state has a total population of approximately 600,000 and most of them reside in and around Hobart, the capital. As you would expect, Tasmania is known for its coasts and also for volcanoes and mountains; it is actually the most mountainous state in all of Australia. There are campuses for other universities found in Tasmania, but the largest public institution in the state is the University of Tasmania, which has 3 campuses throughout the state.
South Australia (SA) is in the south central part of Australia. Most of the state is covered with arid deserts and plains, with a couple of low mountain ranges. South Australia borders every single mainland state, and the southern border is the Indian Ocean. The population is only 1.6 million people (less than 8% of Australia’s total). Most of the population resides in and around Adelaide, the capital. South Australia only has three public and three private universities. They also have one vocational school (TAFE South Australia).
As you can see, no matter where you decide to go to school in Australia, your experience will be unique and enjoyable. No one part of Australia is the same as the other. If you are looking for more information about the country of Australia, take a look at the Australian government’s website at http://australia.gov.au/. They have all kinds of resources available for residents, potential international students, and visitors.