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AUSTRALIA

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / StrangerView

Australia is officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia.  The country was inhabited only by indigenous aboriginal people until the 1700s when the British established a penal colony which became the city of Sydney.  Australia became part of the British Commonwealth in 1901 with the federation of six states (Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Austalia and Tasmania),  plus two territories (Northern Territory and the Australia Capital Territory).  The geography of the country is diverse.  The northern coastal region is tropical.  The extensive central portion is desert and the southeastern coast is temperate.  The population of Australia exceeds 23 million, with most people living in its coastal cities.  The capital is Canberra and the largest city is Sydney.

Australia is a popular tourist destination.  It has a year round comfortable climate with excellent beaches.  English is the official language and the culture is a unique blend of modern Europe and North America.  The Great Barrier Reef is renowned as the world's best snorkeling and diving location.  Prior to the British colonization, the isolation of the Australian continent for centuries created unique wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, koala bears and the duck billed platypus.  In the center of the continent, tourists flock to Ayers Rock to see this anamolous rock formation jutting out of the flat desert.

Visas:

Visas are required to enter Australia.  They can be obtained online and are valid for up to 3 months with no fee.  

Voltage is 220-240 Volts, so visitors from North America should bring an adapter to recharge cameras and electronic equipment.  Australians drive on the left hand side of the road.

Currency:

Australia's currency is the Australian dollar.

Best Time to Visit Australia:

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 Alice Springs

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 Brisbane

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 Great Barrier Reef

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 Melbourne

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 Sydney

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