Subject Material

Australia - An Introduction

Published: 06.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017

You can find an easy version of the text here: An Introduction to Australia – Text in Brief 

Watch this video introducing Australia. You will find comprehension questions at the bottom of the page.



Australia - Introduction

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the mainland of the world's smallest continent, the major island of Tasmania, and numerous other islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.

During the 40,000 years before European settlement commenced in the late 18th century, the Australian mainland and Tasmania were inhabited by around 250 individual nations of indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north, and European discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, the eastern half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales. The population grew steadily in the following years; the continent was explored, and during the 19th century another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

Map over Australia. Illustration. Map of Australia   On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth country. The population is just over 21.7 million, with approximately 60% concentrated in and around the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The nation's capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Technologically advanced and industrialised, Australia is a prosperous multicultural country and has good results in many international comparisons of national performance such as health care, life expectancy, quality of life, human development, public education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.

Tasks and Activities


  1. Australia - True or False? 
  2. Australia - Comprehension 



Copy this text into your text editor and add subtitles where you think needed.



Use the Internet and other sources to find information on what you think should be added to this Wikipedia presentation of Australia. Is there anything in this text that you think could be left out? Copy this text into your text editor and edit it.



Many user-generated sites have had great success on the Internet in the last few years. These are sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube and many more. Why do these sites become so popular? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of such user-generated sites? Some suggest that the information they provide is not as trustworthy as that of traditionally produced books. What do you think?



Describe the differences between the two maps. Write down a few keywords to describe each. Finally compare these pictures and their style with text genres. Which genres do they match (fairytale, essay, factual article. . .)?

Map Game

Try this advanced geography quiz: Australia - Map Game 

Further Reading/Listening

The Land “Down Under” 

Australia’s Unique Animal Life  

Immigration to Australia 

Sydney - An Enchanting Metropolis 

Listening Comprehension – Interview with an Australian tour guide.


Listening Comprehension – Down Under (Duration: 2:46 )   




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