Australia, or the Commonwealth of Australia, as it is officially called, is situated on the island continent. It also occupies the Island of Tasmania and some minor islands round the coast of the continent.
The capital of Australia is Canberra, which became the capital only in 1927.
From 1787 to 1867, Australia was a place where criminals were sent from Britain. That is why the official language of Australia is English.
Almost one half of Australian territory is occupied by deserts and semideserts. For quite a long period of time it was thought to be useless for economic development. But it is rich in coal, iron ore, bauxites, uranium, lead and many other mineral resources.
For almost a century the production and export of sheep wool was the basis of the economy of the country. Now the most important industries are oil, chemical, ore mining, radioelectronics, and food industry. The country exports agricultural products and raw materials.
As for the nature, the commonest trees of Australia are the eucalyptus and the Australian acacia or mimosa, the national emblem of the country. Such unusual animals as a kangaroo or a koala-bear originate from Australia.