Australia was once known as "Terra Australis Incognita" meaning "unknown Southern land", dating back to the Roman times. Australia is now renowned for beaches, Vegemite, Footy, Nicole Kidman, kangaroos, Steve Irwin, Sydney Opera House, cricket, Aborigines, Great Outback, minerals and wine. But there is more to Australia.
Here are 50 interesting facts about Australia which will amaze and amuse.
1. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and the only continent in the world occupied by one nation.
2. It is believed that the Indigenous people of Australia, the Aboriginals, have called Australia home for between 40,000 and 70,000 years.
3. On 18 January 1788, the First Fleet of convicts from Britain arrived at Botany Bay. European Australia was established at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. Today, 26 January is celebrated as Australia Day and enables Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture with pride.
4. The last shipment of convicts disembarked in Western Australia in 1868 making the tally of transported convicts of around 162,000 men and women.
5. Today, Australia has a population of 23 million people with 1 in 4 Australians having born overseas. Australia has the world's highest proportion of migrant settlers in a developed nation.
6. Known for its breathtaking beauty, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is the largest living structure. It is the world's largest coral reef system comprising of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands sprawling over 2,600 kilometres.
Great Barrier Reef (Image by Richard Ling via Wikimedia Commons)
7. Australia's Coat of Arms includes an emu and a kangaroo. The rationale being emu and kangaroo are incapable of walking backwards and can only walk or hop forwards. These animals symbolise a nation that only moves forward.
8. Australians actually eat the animals on their Coat of Arms.
9. Australians refer to the English people as Pome. Pome is an acronym for Prisoners of Mother England.
10. The Australian Alps or Snowy Mountains receive more snow than the Swiss Alps. The Snowy Mountains are in the south east of New South Wales.
11. Australia is the only continent in Earth with no active volcano.
12. The first Aboriginal Senator was Neville Bonner who was elected in 1971.
13. In 1902, Commonwealth Franchise Act was passed granting Australian women right to stand for federal parliament and vote in federal elections.
14. However, it was not until 1921 that the first woman entered the Australian Parliament. Edith Cowan was elected as the first woman to an Australian Parliament.
15. It took many more years until we saw the first female Prime Minister. In 2010, Julia Gillard became the first woman Prime Minister of Australia.
16. In 1856, Australia was the first country to introduce the concept of 8 hour working day. On 21 April 1856, history was made when an eight hour day was introduced into the building trades in Melbourne after a lengthy struggle between building tradesmen and contractors. This achievement earned Australia the reputation of a 'workingman's paradise'.
17. The Coathanger or the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest and widest steel-arch Bridge. This bridge is 48.8 metres (151.3 feet) wide and according to the Guinness Book of Records is the widest long span Bridge in the world.
Sydney Harbour Bridge (Image by Wj32 via WIkimedia Commons)
18. Six of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world can be found in Australia.
19. The Sydney Funnel-web spider is considered the deadliest spider in Earth. This spider is the only species of the spider family which has killed people within 2 hours.
20. Adelaide's exotic Botanic Garden has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the Southern hemisphere.
21. Perth has the highest per capita number of self-made millionaires in any city in the world.
22. Melbourne's tramway system is the largest outside the European continent and the fourth largest in the entire world. It stretches along 244 kilometres (152 miles) of track and has 450 trams.
23. During World War I, the Victorian Parliament passed the Temporary Restriction of Hours Bill which made it compulsory for public houses to stop selling alcohol at six o'clock. Hence, all the pubs in Melbourne shut their doors at 6 pm. This famously became known as the 6 O'clock Swill signifying the last minute rush before the bars closed. This ban was lifted in 1966.
24. Kings Park in Perth is one of the largest and most beautiful inner city parks in the world.
Kings Park (Image by Dinkum via WIkimedia Commons)
25. Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is also known as the opal capital of Australia.
26. Victoria actually has a public holiday to mark a horse race, the Melbourne Cup. The Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861 and is still held every year on the first Tuesday in November. The Melbourne Cup is hailed as "the race that stops a nation".
27. In 2011, the Economist ranked Australians as the world's biggest gamblers per capita, with an estimated spending of the equivalent of $1208.75 per person in the year 2010.
28. Melbourne has the largest Greek population in the world, outside Greece.
29. At the time of the European settlement, approximately 250 languages were spoken by the Aboriginals. Today, about 50 of these languages are actively spoken.
30. Today, Australians speak over 200 languages. The most common languages beside English are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Vietnamese.
31. Australia is home to 15 Nobel Laureates, which is the highest number per head of population of any country in the world.
32. In the history of Nobel Prize, the youngest ever Nobel Laureate is Lawrence Bragg, of Adelaide. He was only 25 years old when he received the extraordinary honour of a Nobel Prize for Physics with his father William Bragg in 1915.
33. Victoria is hailed as the Garden State, with gardens and parks sprawling over 480 hectares. This is the largest proportion of open spaces anywhere in Earth.
Melbourne (Image by Donaldytong via WIkimedia Commons)
34. Melbourne is home to the first Vegemite, plastic banknotes, seat belts, breathalizers, Electrical Drill, Hills Hoist clothesline, Utility Vehicle and the Bionic Ear.
35. The Boomerang, an Aboriginal invention, is one of humanity's greatest inventions. A boomerang is shaped like a bird's wing with the upper surface being greater than that of the one underneath. This feature enables the boomerang to fly when it is thrown through the air.
36. Australian inventors have invented and contributed to the first powered, controlled flight of an all Australian designed and built aeroplane only seven years after the Wright Brothers' achievement. Some of the other notable Australian inventions are the first full-length feature film, a method for penicillin to be manufactured and processed so it can be used to treat people, ultrasound, dual-flush toilets, baby safety capsules, long wearing contact lenses, smartmodem, Wifi and so forth.
37. Melbourne is the only city in the world to have 5 international standard sporting facilities. These are: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Etihad Stadium, Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and Olympic Park in Melbourne Park.
38. With an estimated 6 to 23 foxes every square km of the metropolitan area, Melbourne provides refuge to more foxes than anywhere in the western world.
39. Luna Park in Melbourne is the world's oldest amusement park under private management.
40. Australians love meat pies and consume 260 million meat pies every year.
41. Australia has more than 10,000 beaches making Australia an amazing place for incredible sand and surf.
Cardwell, Queensland (Image by paul bica via WIkimedia Commons)
42. Australia cultivates the second largest amount of grapes in the world after France.
43. The Australian wine industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world with approximately 750 million litres a year delivered to the international export market.
44. One of Australia's best-known natural landmark, the Uluru or Ayers Rock was created over 600 million years ago. It originally sat at the bottom of a sea, but today stands 348m above ground with some 2.5kms of its bulk being underground.
45. Australia has been ranked as one of the fattest nations of the world with fourteen million Australians being overweight or obese.
46. In the '2013 where-to-be-born index' by Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia was honoured with the second position. The index focuses on identifying countries offering the greatest opportunities for a healthy, safe and successful life. This essentially means that babies born in Australia in 2013 are the luckiest in the world, second only to those born in Switzerland.
47. Tasmania has the cleanest and purest air in the world.
48. In 2013, Melbourne was crowned the most liveable city in the world for the third time in a row.
49. Moomba Festival is one of the biggest cultural festivals in Melbourne. In the local Aboriginal language Moomba when translated means "up your bum". A classic example of getting lost in translation.
50. Like many other countries, Australia has its fair share of absurd laws. Some instances are: in Victoria it is illegal to wear slippers in public after sunset, it is illegal to walk on the right-hand side of a footpath in Queensland, it is illegal to leave car keys in an unattended vehicle in New South Wales, only licensed electricians may change a light bulb in Victoria and so forth. It is dubious as to how rigorously these laws are enforced.