My last stop in the seven in one challenge for the year [and ahead of schedule I might add] was the country and continent of Australia. It wasn’t my first time down under, but this time I got to know Sydney a bit better before I flew off to Vanuatu.
The Commonwealth of Australia is the only country that exists on the continent of Australia. It not only includes the mainland of the Australian continent, but also the island of Tasmania, along with numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighboring countries include Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the northeast; and New Zealand to the southeast.
For at least forty thousand years before the first British settlement in the late eighteenth century, the continent of Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians who spoke hundreds of different languages. The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning “southern.” Legends of Terra Australis Incognita – an unknown land of the South – date back to Roman times and were a common reference in medieval and early modern geography, although not based on any documented knowledge of the continent. The earliest recorded use of the word Australia in English was in 1625.
After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in the early seventeenth century, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales beginning in 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades as the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies were eventually established. In 1901, the six colonies federated [New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania], forming the Commonwealth of Australia.
With an area of 2,969,907 square miles [7,692,024 square km], the continent of Australia is the world’s sixth largest continent. The population of the country of Australia [ergo the entire population of the continent] is currently just under 24 million.
Two of the most obvious and famous Australian landmarks are the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and away from Sydney both the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock are high on the list of Australian iconic places.
I realize that most people live their entire lives and do not visit all seven continents, let alone more than one, so I am grateful that I both have had the opportunity to do so and have taken the opportunity to do so. So, with jet lag still coursing through my body, my seven continent challenge has ended.
I will follow up this series with a few more posts to wrap up the challenge, including a video montage including a greeting from every continent.