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Australia page 2 (continued from page 1)

Geography and climate

Australia divided into different colours indicating its climatic zones
Climatic zones in Australia, based on the Köppen climate classification.

Australia's landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi)[115] is on the Indo-Australian Plate. Surrounded by the Indian[N 4] and Pacific oceans, it is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas. The world's smallest continent[116] and sixth largest country by total area,[117] Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the 'island continent'[118] and variably considered the world's largest island.[119] Australia has 34,218 kilometres (21,262 mi) of coastline (excluding all offshore islands)[120] and claims an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone of 8,148,250 square kilometres (3,146,060 sq mi). This exclusive economic zone does not include the Australian Antarctic Territory.[121] Excluding Macquarie Island, Australia lies between latitudes and 44°S, and longitudes 112° and 154°E.

The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef,[122] lies a short distance off the north-east coast and extends for over 2,000 kilometres (1,240 mi). Mount Augustus, claimed to be the world's largest monolith,[123] is located in Western Australia. At 2,228 metres (7,310 ft), Mount Kosciuszko on the Great Dividing Range is the highest mountain on the Australian mainland, although Mawson Peak on the remote Australian territory of Heard Island is taller at 2,745 metres (9,006 ft).[124]

Australia is the flattest continent,[125] with the oldest and least fertile soils;[126][127] desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate.[128] The population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, is among the lowest in the world,[129] although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline.[130]

Eastern Australia is marked by the Great Dividing Range that runs parallel to the coast of Queensland, New South Wales and much of Victoria—although the name is not strictly accurate, as in parts the range consists of low hills and the highlands are typically no more than 1,600 metres (5,249 ft) in height.[131] The coastal uplands and a belt of Brigalow grasslands lie between the coast and the mountains while inland of the dividing range are large areas of grassland.[131][132] These include the western plains of New South Wales and the Einasleigh Uplands, Barkly Tableland and the Mulga Lands of inland Queensland. The northern point of the east coast is the tropical rainforested Cape York Peninsula.[133][134][135][136]

Map showing the topography of Australia, showing a some elevation in the west and very high elevation in mountains in the southeast
Topographic map of Australia

The landscapes of the northern part of the country, the Top End and the Gulf Country behind the Gulf of Carpentaria, with their tropical climate, consist of woodland, grassland and desert.[137][138][139] At the northwest corner of the continent is the sandstone cliffs and gorges of The Kimberley and below that the Pilbara while south and inland of these lie more areas of grassland, the Ord Victoria Plain and the Western Australian Mulga shrublands.[140][141][142] The heart of the country is the uplands of central Australia while prominent features of the centre and south include the inland Simpson, Tirari and Sturt Stony, Gibson, Great Sandy, Tanami and Great Victoria Deserts with the famous Nullarbor Plain on the southern coast.[143][144][145][146]

The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which is correlated with periodic drought, and the seasonal tropical low pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia.[147][148] These factors induce rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical predominantly summer rainfall (monsoon) climate.[149] Just under three quarters of Australia lies within a desert or semi-arid zone.[150] The southwest corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate.[151] Much of the southeast (including Tasmania) is temperate.[149]

Environment

A =koala holding onto a eucalyptus tree with its head turned so both eyes are visible
The koala and the eucalyptus form an iconic Australian pair

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests, and is recognised as a megadiverse country. Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota is unique and diverse. About 85 per cent of flowering plants, 84 per cent of mammals, more than 45 per cent of birds, and 89 per cent of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemic.[152] Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any country, with 755 species.[153]

Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions, Wattles replace them in drier regions and deserts as the most dominant species.[154] Among well-known Australian fauna are the monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra.[154] Australia is home to many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world.[155] The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 BCE.[156] Many plant and animal species became extinct soon after first human settlement,[157] including the Australian megafauna; others have disappeared since European settlement, among them the thylacine.[158][159]

Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced plant and animal species.[160] The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species.[161] Numerous protected areas have been created under the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity to protect and preserve unique ecosystems;[162][163] 65 wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention,[164] and 16 natural World Heritage Sites have been established.[165] Australia was ranked 51st of 163 countries in the world on the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.[166]

Climate change has become an increasing concern in Australia in recent years,[167] with many Australians considering protection of the environment to be the most important issue facing the country.[168] The Rudd Ministry has initiated several emission reduction activities;[169] Rudd's first official act, on his first day in office, was to sign the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Nevertheless, Australia's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are among the highest in the world, lower than those of only a few other industrialised nations.[170] Rainfall in Australia has slightly increased over the past century, both nationwide and for two quadrants of the nation,[171] while annual mean temperatures increased significantly over the past decades.[172] Water restrictions are currently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localised drought.[173]

Economy

A deep opencut mine in which some roads can be seen, the dirt is a rusty colour
The Super Pit gold mine in Kalgoorlie, Australia's largest open cut mine.[174]

Australia has a market economy with high GDP per capita and low rate of poverty. The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. After the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange is now the ninth largest in the world.[175]

Ranked third in the Index of Economic Freedom (2010),[176] Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy and has the ninth highest per capita GDP; higher than that of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, and the United States. The country was ranked second in the United Nations 2010 Human Development Index and first in Legatum's 2008 Prosperity Index.[9] All of Australia's major cities fare well in global comparative liveability surveys;[177] Melbourne reached second place on The Economist's 2008 World's Most Livable Cities list, followed by Perth, Adelaide, and Sydney in fourth, seventh and ninth place respectively.[178] Total government debt in Australia is about $190 billion.[179] Australia has amongst the highest house prices and some of the highest household debt levels in the world.[180]

World map showing the distribution of Australian goods
Destination and value of Australian exports in 2006[181]

An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the century, due to rising commodity prices. Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7 per cent of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years.[182] Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6 per cent for over 15 years, in comparison to the OECD annual average of 2.5 per cent.[182] There are differing opinions based on evidence as to whether or not Australia had been one of the few OECD nations to avoid experiencing a recession during the late 2000s global financial downturn.[183][183][184] Six of Australia's major trading partners had been in recession which in turn affected Australia, and economic growth was hampered significantly over recent years.[185][186]

The Hawke Government floated the Australian dollar in 1983 and partially deregulated the financial system.[187] The Howard Government followed with a partial deregulation of the labour market and the further privatisation of state-owned businesses, most notably in the telecommunications industry.[188] The indirect tax system was substantially changed in July 2000 with the introduction of a 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST).[189] In Australia's tax system, personal and company income tax are the main sources of government revenue.[190]

In July 2011, there were 11,450,500 people employed, with an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent.[191] Youth unemployment (15–24) rose from 8.7 per cent to 9.7 per cent over 2008–2009.[192] Over the past decade, inflation has typically been 2–3 per cent and the base interest rate 5–6 per cent. The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70 per cent of GDP.[193] Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly wheat and wool, minerals such as iron-ore and gold, and energy in the forms of liquified natural gas and coal. Although agriculture and natural resources account for only 3 per cent and 5 per cent of GDP respectively, they contribute substantially to export performance. Australia's largest export markets are Japan, China, the US, South Korea, and New Zealand.[194] Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, in an industry contributing $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy.[195]

Demography

Historic population (Estimated) [196]
Year Indigenous population  
pre 1788 750,000 to 1,000,000 [46]  
Year Non Indigenous population Annual increase %
1788 900  —
1800 5,200 14.6%
1850 405,400 8.7%
Year Total population Annual increase %
1900 3,765,300  —
1910 4,525,100 1.8%
1920 5,411,000 1.8%
1930 6,501,000 1.8%
1940 7,078,000 0.9%
1950 8,307,000 1.6%
1960 10,392,000 2.2%
1970 12,663,000 2.0%
1980 14,726,000 1.5%
1990 17,169,000 1.5%
2000 19,169,100 1.1%
2010 20,971,000 0.9%

For generations, the vast majority of immigrants came from the British Isles, and the people of Australia are still mainly of British or Irish ethnic origin. In the 2006 Australian census, the most commonly nominated ancestry was Australian (37.13 per cent),[197] followed by English (32 per cent), Irish (9 per cent), Scottish (8 per cent), Italian (4 per cent), German (4 per cent), Chinese (3 per cent), and Greek (2 per cent).[198]

Australia's population has quadrupled since the end of World War I,[199] much of the increase from immigration. Following World War II and through to 2000, almost 5.9 million of the total population settled in the country as new immigrants, meaning that nearly two out of every seven Australians were born overseas.[200] Most immigrants are skilled,[201] but the immigration quota includes categories for family members and refugees.[201] By 2050, Australia's population is currently projected to reach around 42 million.[202]

In 2001, 23.1 per cent of Australians were born overseas; the five largest immigrant groups were those from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, Vietnam, and China.[194][203] Following the abolition of the White Australia policy in 1973, numerous government initiatives have been established to encourage and promote racial harmony based on a policy of multiculturalism.[204] In 2005–06, more than 131,000 people emigrated to Australia, mainly from Asia and Oceania.[205] The migration target for 2010–11 is 168,700, compared to 67,900 in 1998–99.[206]

The Indigenous population—mainland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders—was counted at 410,003 (2.2 per cent of the total population) in 2001, a significant increase from 115,953 in the 1976 census.[207] A large number of Indigenous people are not identified in the Census due to undercount and cases where their Indigenous status is not recorded on the form; after adjusting for these factors, the ABS estimated the true figure for 2001 to be around 460,140 (2.4 per cent of the total population).[208]

Indigenous Australians experience higher than average rates of imprisonment and unemployment,[209] lower levels of education, and life expectancies for males and females that are 11–17 years lower than those of non-indigenous Australians.[194][210][211] Some remote Indigenous communities have been described as having "failed state"-like conditions.[212][213][214][215][216]

In common with many other developed countries, Australia is experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with more retirees and fewer people of working age. In 2004, the average age of the civilian population was 38.8 years.[217] A large number of Australians (759,849 for the period 2002–03)[218] live outside their home country.

Language

A beach sloping down from a grassy area on the left to the sea on the right, a city can be seen in the horizon
Nearly three quarters of Australians live in metropolitan cities and coastal areas. The beach is an integral part of the Australian identity.[220]
Ariel view of farming fields interspersed with roads, a small forest near the front of the photo
The Barossa Valley is a wine-producing region in South Australia. Fewer than 15 per cent of Australians live in rural areas.

Although Australia has no official language, English is so entrenched that it has become the de facto national language.[2] Australian English is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon. Grammar and spelling are similar to that of British English with some notable exceptions.[221] According to the 2006 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 79 per cent of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Italian (1.6 per cent), Greek (1.3 per cent) and Cantonese (1.2 per cent);[222] a considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual. A 2010–2011 study by the Australia Early Development Index found that the most common language spoken by children after English was Arabic, followed by Vietnamese, Greek, Chinese, and Hindi.[223]

Between 200 and 300 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which only about 70 have survived. Many of these are exclusively spoken by older people; only 18 Indigenous languages are still spoken by all age groups.[224] At the time of the 2006 Census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12 per cent of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home.[225] Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 deaf people.[226]

Religion

Australia has no state religion. In the 2006 census, 64 per cent of Australians listed themselves as Christian, including 26 per cent as Roman Catholic and 19 per cent as Anglican. About 19 per cent of the population cited "No religion" (which includes humanism, atheism, agnosticism and rationalism), which was the fastest-growing group from 2001 to 2006, and a further 12 per cent did not answer (the question is optional) or did not give a response adequate for interpretation. The largest non-Christian religion in Australia is Buddhism (2.1 per cent), followed by Islam (1.7 per cent), Hinduism (0.8 per cent) and Judaism (0.5 per cent). Overall, fewer than 6 per cent of Australians identify with non-Christian religions.[227] Weekly attendance at church services in 2004 was about 1.5 million: about 7.5 per cent of the population.[228]

An international survey, made by the private, not-for profit German think-tank, the Bertelsmann Foundation, found that "Australia is one of the least religious nations in the western world, coming in 17th out of 21 [countries] surveyed" and that "Nearly three out of four Australians say they are either not at all religious or that religion does not play a central role in their lives.".[229] A survey of 1,718 Australians by the Christian Research Association at the end of 2009 suggested that the numbers of people attending religious services per month in Australia has dropped from 23 per cent in 1993 to 16 per cent in 2009, and while 60 per cent of 15 to 29-year-old respondents in 1993 identified with Christian denominations, 33 per cent did in 2009.[230]

Education

School attendance is compulsory throughout Australia. All children receive 11 years of compulsory education from the age of 6 to 16 (Year 1 to 10),[231] before they can undertake two more years (Years 11 and 12), contributing to an adult literacy rate that is assumed to be 99 per cent. A preparatory year prior to Year 1, although not compulsory, is almost universally undertaken.[231] In the Programme for International Student Assessment, Australia regularly scores among the top five of thirty major developed countries (member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Government grants have supported the establishment of Australia's 38 universities; all but one is public.[citation needed] OECD places Australia as among the most expensive nations to attend university.[232] There is a state-based system of vocational training, known as TAFE Institutes, and many trades conduct apprenticeships for training new tradespeople.[233] Approximately 58 per cent of Australians aged from 25 to 64 have vocational or tertiary qualifications,[194] and the tertiary graduation rate of 49 per cent is the highest among OECD countries. The ratio of international to local students in tertiary education in Australia is the highest in the OECD countries.[234]

Health

Life expectancy in Australia in 2006 was 78.7 years for males and 83.5 years for females.[235] Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world,[236] while cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease.[237] Australia has one of the highest proportions of overweight citizens amongst developed nations.[238]

Total expenditure on health (including private sector spending) is around 9.8 per cent of GDP.[239] Australia introduced universal health care in 1975.[240] Known as Medicare it is now nominally funded by an income tax surcharge known as the Medicare levy, currently set at 1.5 per cent.[241] The states manage hospitals and attached outpatient services, while the Commonwealth funds the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (reducing the costs of medicines) and general practice.[240]

Culture

Ornate white building with an elevated dome in the middle, fronted by a golden fountain and orange flowers
The Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne was the first building in Australia to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004[242]

Since 1788, the basis of Australian culture has been strongly influenced by Anglo-Celtic Western culture.[243][244] Distinctive cultural features have also arisen from Australia's natural environment and Indigenous cultures.[245][246] Since the mid-20th century, American popular culture has strongly influenced Australia, particularly through television and cinema.[247] Other cultural influences come from neighbouring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations.[247][248]

Arts

Painting of a woman in and orange coat with a broad brimmed yellow hat standing on a cliff above a beach, with the bush visible in the background
Sunlight Sweet by Australian landscape artist Arthur Streeton.

Australian visual arts are thought to have begun with the cave and bark paintings of its Indigenous peoples. The traditions of Indigenous Australians are largely transmitted orally, through ceremony and the telling of Dreamtime stories.[249] From the time of European settlement, a theme in Australian art has been the natural landscape,[245] seen for example in the works of Albert Namatjira,[250] Arthur Streeton and others associated with the Heidelberg School,[245] and Arthur Boyd.[251]

The country's landscape remains a source of inspiration for Australian modernist artists; it has been depicted in acclaimed works by the likes of Sidney Nolan,[252] Fred Williams,[253] Sydney Long,[254] and Clifton Pugh.[255] Australian artists influenced by modern American and European art include cubist Grace Crowley,[256] surrealist James Gleeson,[257] and pop artist Martin Sharp.[258] Contemporary Indigenous Australian art is the only art movement of international significance to emerge from Australia[259][260] and "the last great art movement of the 20th century";[261] its exponents have included Emily Kngwarreye.[262][263] Art critic Robert Hughes has written several influential books about Australian history and art, and was described as the "world's most famous art critic" by The New York Times.[264] The National Gallery of Australia and state galleries maintain Australian and overseas collections.[265]

Many of Australia's performing arts companies receive funding through the federal government's Australia Council.[266] There is a symphony orchestra in each state,[267] and a national opera company, Opera Australia,[268] well-known for its famous soprano Joan Sutherland.[269] At the start of the 20th century, Nellie Melba was one of the world's leading opera singers.[270] Ballet and dance are represented by The Australian Ballet and various state companies. Each state has a publicly funded theatre company.[271][272][273]

Aboriginal man performing on the Digeridoo indoors with 4 people watching, aboriginal paintings can be seen on the wall behind him
Performance of Aboriginal song and dance in the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney

Australian literature has also been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, and Dorothea Mackellar captured the experience of the Australian bush.[274] The character of the nation's colonial past, as represented in early literature, is popular with modern Australians.[245] In 1973, Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,[275] the first Australian to have achieved this.[276] Australian winners of the Man Booker Prize have included Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally;[277] David Williamson, David Malouf, and J. M. Coetzee, who recently became an Australian citizen, are also renowned writers,[278] and Les Murray is regarded as "one of the leading poets of his generation".[279]

Media

The Australian cinema industry began with the 1906 release of The Story of the Kelly Gang, which is regarded as being the world's first feature-length film,[280] but both Australian feature film production and the distribution of British-made features declined dramatically after World War I as American studios and distributors monopolised the industry[281] and by the 1930s around 95 per cent of the feature films screened in Australia were produced in Hollywood. By the late 1950s feature film production in Australia had effectively ceased and there were no all-Australian feature films made in the decade between 1959 and 1969.[282]

Thanks to initiatives by the Gorton and Whitlam federal governments, the New Wave of Australian cinema of the 1970s brought provocative and successful films, some exploring the nation's colonial past, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Breaker Morant,[283] while the so-called "Ocker" genre produced several highly successful urban-based comedy features including The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.[284][285][286] Later hits included Mad Max and Gallipoli.[287][288] More recent successes included Shine and Rabbit-Proof Fence.[289][290] Notable Australian actors include Judith Anderson,[291] Errol Flynn,[292] Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and current joint director of the Sydney Theatre Company, Cate Blanchett.[293][294]

Australia has two public broadcasters (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service), three commercial television networks, several pay-TV services,[295] and numerous public, non-profit television and radio stations. Each major city has at least one daily newspaper,[295] and there are two national daily newspapers, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.[295] In 2010, Reporters Without Borders placed Australia 18th on a list of 178 countries ranked by press freedom, behind New Zealand (8th) but ahead of the United Kingdom (19th) and United States (20th).[296] This relatively low ranking is primarily because of the limited diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia;[297] most print media are under the control of News Corporation and Fairfax Media.[298]

Cuisine

The food of Indigenous Australians was largely influenced by the area in which they lived. Most tribal groups subsisted on a simple hunter-gatherer diet, hunting native game and fish and collecting native plants and fruit. The general term for native Australian flora and fauna used as a source of food is bush tucker.[299][300] The first settlers introduced British food to the continent[301] which much of what is now considered typical Australian food is based on the Sunday roast has become an enduring tradition for many Australians.[302] Since the beginning of the 20th century, food in Australia has increasingly been influenced by immigrants to the nation, particularly from Southern European and Asian cultures.[301][302] Australian wine is produced in 60 distinct production areas totaling approximately 160,000 hectares, mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of local climates and soil types. The predominant varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sémillon, Pinot noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon blanc.[303][304][305][195][306][307] In 1995, an Australian red wine, Penfolds Grange, won the Wine Spectator award for Wine of the Year, the first time a wine from outside France or California achieved this distinction.[308]

Sport

Black and white photo of a cricket pitch
Cricket has been an important part of Australia's sporting culture since the 19th century.[309]

Around 24 per cent Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate in organised sporting activities in Australia.[194] Australia has strong international teams in cricket, field hockey, netball, rugby league and rugby union, having been Olympic or world champions at least twice in each sport in the last 25 years for both men and women where applicable.[310][311][312][313][314][315][316][317] Australia is also powerful in track cycling, rowing, and swimming, having consistently been in the top-five medal-winners at Olympic or World Championship level since 2000.[318][319][320] Swimming is the strongest of these sports; Australia is the second-most prolific medal winner in the sport in Olympic history.[321][322][323]

Some of Australia's most internationally well-known and successful sportspeople are swimmers Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe; sprinters Shirley Strickland, Betty Cuthbert and Cathy Freeman;[324] tennis players Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Evonne Goolagong, and Margaret Court; cricketers Donald Bradman and Shane Warne; three-time Formula One world champion Jack Brabham; five-time motorcycle grand prix world champion Mick Doohan; golfers Greg Norman and Karrie Webb;[325] cyclist Hubert Opperman; and prodigious billiards player Walter Lindrum.[326] Nationally, other popular sports include Australian rules football, horse racing, squash, surfing, soccer, and motor racing. The annual Melbourne Cup horserace and Sydney-Hobart yacht race attract intense interest.

Australia has participated in every summer Olympics of the modern era,[327] and every Commonwealth Games.[328] Australia hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney,[329] and has ranked among the top six medal-takers since 2000.[330] Australia has also hosted the 1938, 1962, 1982, and 2006 Commonwealth Games.[331] Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Sydney hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the annual Australia-New Zealand Bledisloe Cup is keenly watched. The highest-rating television programs include sports telecasts such as the summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Rugby League State of Origin, and the grand finals of the National Rugby League and Australian Football League.[332] Skiing in Australia began in the 1860s and snow sports take place in the Australian Alps and parts of Tasmania.

Author:Bling King
Published:Sep 24th 2011
Modified:Dec 29th 2011
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