Australia is home of the kangaroo and koala bear. Scuba divers and snorkelers come from across the globe to see the underwater splendours of Australia’s great barrier reef. Surfers come to Australia for the great surfing on the giant waves that come crashing down on its white sandy beaches.
Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. A referendum to change Australia's status, from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to a republic, was defeated in 1999.
The country is also its own continent, located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Australia is the world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country. The population is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts.
The climate is generally arid to semiarid - temperate in the south and east and tropical in the north. A regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the Doctor" occurs along the west coast in the summer.
Mostly comprised of a low plateau with deserts, Australia has a fertile plain in southeast of the country.