Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world, but has a population of only 25 million. Because about 85% of the Australian population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast, the country is extremely sparsely populated. Australia is also called The Lucky Country because of the prosperity it enjoys.
Thanks to its interesting history, many tourist attractions and beautiful scenery, the country is a popular travel destination. Here you can read more about the history, culture, and tourist highlights of Australia.
Facts and figures
|Population||25.8 million (2022)|
|Currency||Australian dollar (AUD)|
|Time difference||7 to 11 hours|
|Flight time||19 to 22 hours|
|Electricity||230 volts, 50 Hz|
|Plugs||Type I (travel plug required)|
|Tap water||Safe to drink|
|Visa||Visa is required|
Map of Australia
With a surface area of 7.692.024 km2, Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world. The distance between the southwestern and northeastern parts of the country is as great as the distance between southern Spain and Finland. North of Australia are Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. A little over 2000 kilometres east of Australia is New Zealand, a country that shares many cultural similarities with Australia.
The Australian continent before the arrival of Europeans
The first people most likely migrated to present-day Australia about 60,000 years ago. In about a couple of thousand years, they spread out over the entire continent, including Tasmania. This island was connected to mainland Australia until 6,000 years before our era, when it became isolated because of climate change and the subsequent rise in sea level. In this period, a lot of the large animals that inhabited Australia at the time became extinct. Whether this was (partly) the cause of the spread of people throughout the country is still not known for sure. Most of the prehistoric population in Australia were hunters and gatherers, but there is also proof that there were small tribes who took up arable farming. Because of the lack of written sources, there are very few known details about life in Australia during this period. Only since the arrival of the first Europeans in the late 18th century has there been some written documentation, which therefore marks the end of Australian prehistory.
Colonisation of Australia
In 1606, the Dutch were the first Europeans to come ashore in Australia. They did not permanently settle on the southern continent, but they did name the landmass “New Holland”. It was the English who started colonizing the continent at the end of the 19th century. Because they lost a lot of their colonies in North America due to the American War of Independence, the English searched for new expansion possibilities. They also searched for a place for convicted criminals who had been shipped to the USA before that. Initially, the English founded colonies in the southeast of Australia, but the British Empire claimed the entire continent in 1820 because they feared competition from the French or the Americans. Australia became an important British overseas territory. There were many expeditions to inland Australia and more and more English prisoners were brought over to the country.
During this entire period, Australia was governed from London, but soon the desire for more self-determination arose from the colonies. Because the country was made up of several states that barely had any contact with each other, there was no united national feeling yet among the Australians. However, the states did resemble each other economically. Generally, the colonists took up wool production and mining. In this period, there was an earlier form of democracy in which all European men were allowed to vote. The First Nations, however, were excluded from this early Australian democracy.
The relations between the colonists and the Aboriginal People
When the first European colonists settled in Australia at the end of the 18th century, there were an estimated half a million to one million Aboriginal People in the country. From that moment on, the population of European descent increased steadily. In 1825, about 50,000 Europeans lived in Australia, and by 1861, this number had increased to over a million. The English desire to expand caused the First Nation populations to suffer heavily. As a result, many Aboriginals and other First Nations died in confrontations with the colonists, who were better armed. The First Nation populations were also forced to do heavy labour in the Australian outback. Because of all this, there were only less than 100,000 individuals left of the Aboriginal and First Nation populations in 1900.
Handmade masks are an important expression of Aboriginal culture
The development of modern Australia
In 1901, Australia formally separated from the United Kingdom when the then-independent Australian states voted for political reunification of the continent. However, the country was still part of the British Commonwealth. This led to many Australians fighting alongside the British in both world wars. The Second World War in particular had a large impact on the Australian society; after the Japanese bombardment of the northern Australian town of Darwin in 1942, the fear arose that the Japanese would invade the mainland in no time. For a long time after the war, this distrust toward Japan remained.
In the years after the war, Australia had a strict immigration policy. European immigration was accepted fairly quickly, but for a long time, the door remained closed to Asian migrants. This policy persisted until well into the 1960s, when Australian society gradually became more multicultural. Nevertheless, British and mostly American traditions continued to prevail. The reason is that, after the Second World War, the cultural outlook was more fixed towards the United States than the old motherland. Another reason for this was the stationing of US soldiers in post-war Australia. These soldiers were seen as heroes by the Australian population, which only enriched the popularity of the United States. Because of American investments, among others, the Australian economy surged during this period. Currently, the Australian economy is one of the strongest world economies.
The remote location of Australia strongly influenced the local culture. Australians felt abandoned by the British crown and therefore decided they would have to make it on their own strength. This mentality caused an egalitarian society to arise without significant class differences. Modesty has therefore become an important part of Australian culture. A personʼs education or wealth will therefore not easily command respect. Everyone is treated and talked to in the same manner. A telling example of this is the fact that many Australians address everyone with mate, even if they do not know the person in question well.
Furthermore, Anglo-Saxon cultural traditions have had a significant impact on Australian society. British and American pop culture are still widely popular, even though Australian artists have gained popularity over the course of the 20th century. However, foreign influence in Australia remains strong. A quarter of the Australian population has at least one parent of foreign descent. This cultural mishmash can be seen in Australian eating habits. For the most part, Australian cuisine is mainly based on foreign dishes. What is typically Australian, however, is the consumption of kangaroo meat. The meat is very popular in the country; over a million wild kangaroos are killed for their meat each year.
The Aboriginals are not a homogeneous group. There are hundreds of different tribes, each with their own language and culture, known collectively as First Peoples or First Nations. The boomerang is one of the most famous Aboriginal inventions. This throwing weapon is used by tribes across the entire continent, especially for the hunt. Many people know the didgeridoo by now. However, this long wind instrument is not known by this name in any First Nation language. It has many names, but for Aboriginals, Yidaki is the most commonly used name for the instrument.
First Nation culture
Oral histories play a major role in First Nation culture and history. For example, the foundational myth of the Gunditjmara, a tribe living in the southeast of the country, spoke of a large volcanic eruption that would have created the world. Research has proven that over 30,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption indeed took place, which means that these are stories that have been told for thousands of years.
Because of its size, Australia has multiple climates. The largest part of mainland Australia consists of desert and has a desert climate with very little rainfall and high temperatures. In addition, because of climate changes, it grows hotter and hotter in this region. For example, heatwaves have caused destructive forest fires in previous periods of long droughts. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season. In June and July, it hardly rains here, while in Australian summers (from December to February), there will be around 1,500 millimetres of rain per month. In the winter months (from June to August), temperatures here do not drop below 14 degrees. However, southeastern Australia has a more temperate weather pattern. Even so, winters here are relatively mild compared to winters in Europe because Australia is less subject to icy polar winds than Europe.
It is nearly impossible to discover Australia in a single trip; after all, the continent is huge. In this case, renting a car is an option. Australia has a highway more than 15,000 kilometres long (Highway 1) that revolves around the whole continent. A road trip on this route will certainly take three months, but if you really want to see all the highlights, you will likely travel for over a year.
For this reason, most travellers choose to drive only certain segments of this route. The section of the highway between Melbourne and Portland, for example, is referred to as the Great Ocean Road. This road provides a wonderful view. For example, stop at Port Campbell National Park, where you can look upon the Twelve Apostles: twelve impressive rock formations in the surf that were formed over millions of years by erosion.
The Great Ocean Road along the Australian coast
In the outback, in the inland desert, another popular tourist attraction of Australia is Uluru. This enormous rock formation is located within the Red Center. As the name suggests, the ground in this region has a reddish-brown colour. The same is true of Uluru, which allows for a spectacular display here at sunrise or sunset. From the West Coast, it takes approximately 20 hours by car to get to Uluru. Once you arrive, you can hike, bike and take scenic walks in the area. About 55 kilometres from Uluru is Kata Tjuta, another impressive rock formation. Even though it is less well-known, it is definitely worth a visit.
The Great Barrier Reef on the northeastern coast of the country is quite possibly the most famous tourist attraction in Australia. It is the largest coral reef in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2021. The coral reef therefore especially needs to be protected. However, the Australian government wants to continue to boost tourism in this region. As such, there are still many tourist activities around the reef, but these are organised in such a way that the coral reef does not suffer any damage. In addition to the Great Barrier Reef, there are many coastal towns that are worth visiting in this region.
Economy and currency
The Australian economy heavily depends on the import and export of goods to and from Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, although it also trades extensively with the United States and New Zealand. Historically, mining was the largest economic sector and Australia is still one of the worldʼs leading exporters of iron, gold, lead and uranium. Today, however, the service sector is the most important economic sector of the country.
The Australian dollar (AUD) is the currency used in Australia. Generally, it is traded lower than the euro. You can usually withdraw money in Australia using your European debit card without any problems because there are ATMs everywhere. However, it is recommended that you take enough cash with you if you are doing a road trip or travelling through the outback, for example. In addition, make sure that you always carry a credit card with you, because it is often required to be able to book a hotel or rent a car.
The Sydney Opera House, the most well-known building in Australia
Australia is a safe country to travel to. It is recommended to take the weather predictions into account. Extreme weather can occur in the summer with forest fires and floods. Follow the local news and be aware of the situation at the specific destination of your trip.
Apply for the Australia visa
For a trip to Australia, you require a visa. The eVisitor visa costs € 24,95 and can easily be applied for online. You require this visa prior to starting your trip. Make sure to submit an application on time. You can easily do so with the digital application procedure on this website. Keep in mind that you have to meet several requirements to be able to use this visa.
Apply for an Australia visa now
e-Visa.ie is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the Australia visa. e-Visa.ie acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for a visa directly with the immigration service (0 AUD per visa, via immi.homeaffairs.gov.au). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.ie, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 0 AUD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as € 24,95 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous Australia visa was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.