Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
AUSTRALIA IS A developed country in the Southern Hemisphere. With a landmass of 2,941,299 mi. (7,617,930 sq. km.), it is the sixth largest country in the world, but is sparsely inhabited, with a population of approximately 21 million. Prior to federation in 1901, the continent of Australia was comprised of separate colonies and territories. The Commonwealth of Australia is now divided politically into six states and two major territories. Australia is also responsible for a number of minor territories, including Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island. Most of Australia's population is concentrated in the southeast of the country, although there has been rapid population growth in the northeast (Queensland) and in the southwest (Western Australia). The national capital is Canberra. The largest cities are Sydney and Melbourne (each with about 4 million residents); and Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, each with 1–2 million residents in 2006. Most of the ...