Australia Physical Map

Explore physical map of Australia, it is known for being the flattest continent and, aside from Antarctica, it's also the driest. When viewed from above, its extensive plains, which can range in color from a dried blood hue to a tawny shade similar to a lion's fur, might give the impression of an enormous desert. Traveling about 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from Darwin in the north or from Perth in the west to Sydney by air, one may not see a single town or significant signs of human settlement for long stretches. Much of the central lowlands and the western plateau is, in fact, desert. However, this does not tell the whole story. The red and black soil plains in Queensland and New South Wales have historically supported the world's leading wool industry. Moreover, some of the most arid and unwelcoming regions in Australia are rich in mineral resources.

Australia Physical Map



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About Australia Physical Map

Expore the physical map of Australia showing rivers, mountain peaks and various other physical features.

Geography of Australia

Australia's geography is diverse, encompassing a variety of biogeographic regions. It is the world's smallest continent yet ranks as the sixth-largest country. Most of Australia's population is found along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The landscape varies greatly, featuring the snow-covered Australian Alps and Tasmania, vast deserts, as well as tropical and temperate forests, grasslands, heathlands, and woodlands.

Nearby countries governing the surrounding regions include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the French territory of New Caledonia to the east; and New Zealand to the southeast.

Australia Physical Geography

Australia, an island country situated in Oceania, lies between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia, it encompasses the entire Australian continent and several smaller islands, making it the world's sixth-largest country by total area, covering 7,686,850 km² (2,967,910 sq mi). This area, including Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island, is slightly smaller than the contiguous 48 United States and about 31.5 times larger than the United Kingdom.

The mainland of Australia boasts a coastline stretching 35,821 km (22,258 mi), supplemented by an additional 23,860 km (14,830 mi) of island coastlines. The country has 758 estuaries, primarily in tropical and sub-tropical zones. Remote sensing studies suggest that Australia has 8,866 km² (3,423 sq mi) of tidal flats, ranking third globally in this respect. Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) spans an impressive 8,148,250 km² (3,146,060 sq mi), not including the Australian Antarctic Territory, which adds another 5,896,500 km² (2,276,700 sq mi).

Australia holds the distinction of having the largest ocean jurisdiction of any country on Earth, with no land borders. Its northernmost mainland points include Queensland's Cape York Peninsula and the Northern Territory's Top End, with the country's northernmost point located in the Torres Strait.

The Western half of Australia features the Western Plateau, reaching mountainous heights near the west coast and descending to lower elevations towards the center. This region is predominantly flat but interspersed with mountain ranges like the Hamersley, MacDonnell, and Musgrave Ranges. The Western Plateau lacks significant surface water, but there are notable rivers in the west and north, including the Murchison, Ashburton, and Victoria rivers.

The Eastern Highlands, or Great Dividing Range, run close to Australia's eastern coast, dividing the narrow eastern coastal plain from the rest of the continent. This area is known for its extensive relief, high rainfall, rich biodiversity, and dense human settlement.

Situated between these Eastern Highlands and the Western Plateau are the Central Lowlands, comprising the Great Artesian Basin and major river systems like the Murray-Darling Basin and the Lake Eyre Basin.

To the northeast of Australia lies the world's largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef. The large, mountainous island of Tasmania, also an Australian state, is located south of the mainland's southeastern corner. Tasmania is known for its abundant rainfall and fertile soils, contrasting with much of the mainland.

Geology of Australia

Australia holds the distinction of being the lowest, flattest, and one of the oldest continental landforms on Earth, with a notably stable geological past. Most of its significant geological activities, like the tectonic uplift of mountain ranges and plate collisions, occurred in its distant past when it was part of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. Its highest point, Mount Kosciuszko, stands at 2,228 meters (7,310 feet), which is modest compared to the highest mountains on other continents.

Geologist Charles Rowland Twidale suggests that between 10% and 20% of Australia’s present-day landscapes were shaped during the Mesozoic era when it was still connected to Gondwana.

Located in the middle of a tectonic plate, Australia experiences no active volcanism. It frequently encounters minor earthquakes that cause no damage, while significant earthquakes of magnitude 6 or more happen roughly every five years. The country's terrain mainly comprises low plateaus, deserts, and fertile plains in the southeast. Tasmania and the Australian Alps lack any permanent icefields or glaciers, although they might have existed in earlier times. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, is situated just off the northeast coast of Australia.

Regions

The Australian continent is composed of six unique landform divisions:

  1. The Eastern Highlands: This area features the Great Dividing Range, the fertile Brigalow Belt of grassland behind the east coast, and the Eastern Uplands.
  2. The Eastern Alluvial Plains and Lowlands: Covering the southern part of the Murray Darling basin, this division also includes parts of the Lake Eyre Basin and extends up to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  3. The South Australian Highlands: Encompassing the Flinders Range, Eyre Peninsula, and Yorke Peninsula.
  4. The Western Plateau: Known for the Nullarbor Plain.
  5. The Central Deserts: These deserts cover a significant portion of the continent's interior.
  6. Northern Plateau and Basins: Including the Top End region.


Hydrology of Australia

A large part of Australia's interior is characterized by aridity, with low annual rainfall and high temperatures often leading to dry rivers and empty lakes. Some rivers originate in tropical regions where heavy summer rains result in a significant flow of water. Flood events can dramatically change these dry landscapes, and as a result, the ecology of central Australia has adapted to this cycle of abundance and scarcity.

The Great Artesian Basin plays a vital role as it is the largest and deepest fresh water basin in the world. The availability of water from this basin has allowed for the expansion of grazing into regions that were previously too arid for livestock. Across Australia, towns and cities occasionally face significant water storage and usage challenges, leading to the implementation of restrictions and measures to reduce water consumption. These restrictions typically escalate in a stepwise manner as the water scarcity increases.

The term "Billabong" is used in Australia to describe oxbow lakes that form along the course of meandering rivers. When it comes to the height of waterfalls, Australia's falls are relatively modest on a global scale. The tallest waterfall in Australia is ranked 135th in height according to the World Waterfall Database.

Political Geography of Australia

Australia is comprised of six states, two major mainland territories, and various minor territories. The states include New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. Among these, Western Australia is the largest, covering nearly a third of the Australian land area, followed by Queensland, South Australia, and New South Wales. The major mainland territories are the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

Apart from these, Australia administers several minor territories. Within New South Wales, the federal government manages the Jervis Bay Territory, used as a naval base and seaport for the national capital. There are also inhabited external territories, which include Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Additionally, there are largely uninhabited external territories such as the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, and the Heard Island and McDonald Islands. Australia also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as the Australian Antarctic Territory, though this claim is not broadly acknowledged internationally.

Human Geography of Australia

Australians primarily reside in various capital cities and their surrounding suburban areas along the extensive coastline. These cities have been populated by a significant number of immigrants, settling with relatively minimal conflict and the absence of concentrated inner-city ghettos. The average population density in Australia is 3.3 people per square kilometer, making it one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

Sport holds a significant place in Australian society and culture, with over 90% of adults showing an interest in it. English is the predominant language spoken in Australia. Australians also have a high rate of private property ownership. Notably, Australians are known for their inclination towards gambling, recording the highest per capita gambling losses globally.

Climate of Australia

Most of Australia is arid or semi-arid, with 18% of the mainland being officially recognized as named deserts. Additionally, other areas are classified as desert due to their low rainfall and high temperatures. The only regions with a temperate climate and relatively fertile soil are the south-east and south-west corners. The northern part of Australia features a tropical climate, including tropical rainforests, grasslands, and deserts.

Rainfall in Australia is quite variable, often leading to prolonged droughts that are thought to be partially influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The continent occasionally experiences dust storms that can cover large regions or even several states, and there are rare occurrences of large tornadoes. Issues such as rising salinity and desertification are causing damage to some landscapes.

The location of Australia in the tropical/subtropical zone and the presence of cold waters off its western coast contribute to making much of western Australia a hot desert. These cold waters generate limited moisture for the mainland. A study conducted in 2005 by Australian and American researchers suggested that desertification of the interior might be linked to human settlers who arrived around 50,000 years ago. Their practice of regular burning might have impacted monsoons from reaching the interior regions. Notably, the Australian outback makes up about 70% of the continent.

Natural hazards

Australia experiences various natural hazards, including cyclones on its northern coasts, severe thunderstorms, droughts, occasional floods, heat waves, and regular occurrences of bushfires.

Environmental issues in Australia

Australia faces several environmental challenges, including:



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