10 Facts about Australia for Kids

  1. ‘Australia’ was coined from the Latin word ‘Australis.’ 

Australia’s name was derived from the Latin word ‘Australis,’ meaning ‘southern land.’ Long before Europeans discovered Australia, this was the name given to the fictional continent that scientists and explorers believed would exist in the southern hemisphere.

Once discovered by the Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon in 1606, Australia became known as ‘New Holland.’ However, it wasn’t until 1824 that Australia was given the title that the continent is known as today, although some people choose to call Australia by its nicknames such as ‘Oz’ or ‘the land down under.’

  1. Canberra is the Capital City of Australia 

Some people may find it surprising that Canberra, located in the South East of Australia, is the country’s capital city. Quite often, people get this confused with Sydney, which is Australia’s largest city.

  1. The cities Victoria and Queensland were both named after Queen Victoria 

While a Dutch sailor was the first European to discover Australia,  Captain James Cook, a British explorer, claimed the land in the name of Great Britain in 1770. From here onwards, Britain decided to send over fleets of people to colonize Australia, with the First Fleet landing on the 13th of May 1787. This meant that Britain ruled Australia.

In 1851, a colony in Victoria was established, and the city was formally given its title. By this time, Queen Victoria had been on the throne for 14 years, so the name of this new settlement was given in her honor, and it remains to this day.

  1. The world’s largest reef can be found in Australia 

Australia is the home of the Great Barrier Reef. Located off the coast of Queensland and millions of years old, the Great Barrier Reef hosts the world’s most extensive coral reef system and a wide variety of marine life. Its large scale of over 344,400 square kilometers can be seen from outer space!

Inside the Great Barrier Reef, you can expect to find some of the world’s most amazing sea creatures. This includes dolphins, six species of turtles, over 17 different types of sea snakes, and over 1,500 different fish species.

However, despite the Great Barrier Reef being one of the most important aquatic ecosystems on our planet, it faces the threat of mass destruction due to climate change. This means that thousands of species could die as a result.

  1. Tasmania and other smaller islands are also a part of Australia 

Tasmania, also known as Apple Island, is the same size as the Republic of Ireland. Located off the south coast below Melbourne, the island of Tasmania is home to over 500,000 people and a unique tropical landscape. Over half of Tasmania’s land belongs to national parks, World Heritage sites, or marine forest reserves.

  1. Australia hosts some of the world’s most unique animals 

Australia is a country that is home to some of the most exotic animals on the planet. Australia and its unique climate make this country a special place to find the most amazing animals, from kangaroos to koalas to dingos. Over 80% of our planet’s mammals, plants, reptiles, and frogs are native to Australia, meaning they’re not naturally found anywhere else on the earth.

  1. Australia was ‘discovered’ by European explorers in the early 17th Century

The notion of Australia being ‘discovered’ in 1606 means that Australia wasn’t on any form of map or atlas before this date!

So, why was Australia ‘discovered’ so late compared to other countries? This is simply because explorers had not ventured out far enough to reach Australia before this time.

  1. Indigenous Australians have lived on the continent for over 65,000 years 

At the time of colonization, it’s believed that between 300,000 to 1 million indigenous Australians were living on the continent. These people are called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. They lived according to their traditional laws, customs, and environmental needs, such as in tribes, and moved from place to place for resources such as food and water.

The British colonization had a devastating effect on these native communities. Between 1788 and 1900, these populations were reduced by 90% due to conflict, new diseases (such as chickenpox, smallpox, influenza, and measles), and the British possession of the land and its resources.

In modern times, around 3% of all Australians have indigenous ancestry, meaning their family relations have descended from aboriginal Australians.

  1. Australia has six states 

Much like other countries, Australia is divided into smaller states. These six states are:

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • Victoria
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Western Australia
  1. Australia is the second driest continent in the world after Antarctica 

Did you know that Australia is the second driest continent in the world? This means that only 600mm of annual rainfall drops each year throughout the whole continent. This is because Australia has a subtropical high-pressure belt that presses air down rather than lifting it to produce rain.

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