Alright, everybody, let’s just all get it off of our chests – Koalas and kangaroos, boomerangs and didgeridoos, Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Crocodiles, Cockatoos, Everything that will kill you, shrimp on Barbies (that’s not true), that Vegemite stuff that taste like poo, coral reefs and platypuses, platypusi, platypi…what’s the plural of platypus? Alright now, let’s actually learn about the freaking country. ♫ It’s time to learn geography! ♫ NOW! Hey everybody, I’m your host Paul Barbato. Today is gonna be Australia, you know the drill… let’s dissect the flag. The Australian flag has a blue field with a Union Jack on the upper hoist corner – to represent that it was a former colony and a current Commonwealth of the United Kingdom, with a large star under it – representing the Commonwealth, and the five stars on the right… the alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon crucis to the right representing the Southern Cross constellation. Alright, that was fun. Now let’s discuss about the borders. Now obviously as an island nation, a rather large one but still an island Australia doesn’t have any borders with any other nations, but that doesn’t mean that Australia doesn’t have some rather intriguing parameters. The country divides itself up in a rather intriguing way, like the U.S. Australia has states, not provinces. There is a difference! Six of them and each one kinda has their own little flaring quirks like Tasmania known for being crazyyy. Where things get a little interesting though are the territories. Australia has 3 domestic internal territories and 6 overseas territories, technically 7 if you include the Australian Antarctic territory, even thought the Antarctic Treaty kind of bans anybody from claiming Antarctic soil as their own, which we will find out in future episodes that a lot of countries do a wonderful job at ignoring. The 3 internal territories are Northern Territory, Capital Territory which is basically just the capital city of Canberra and some extra space around it, and the confusing little tyke, Jervis Bay Territory. Jervis Bay Territory was bought and developed to give the inland capital Canberra access to the sea and eventually Jervis Bay split from the capital. However, it’s still counted as part of the capital in elections (it’s a little confusing), even though it really doesn’t have much going for it (except for a small navy base and beaches that it kinda took from other neighbouring towns). The most dramatic border area, though, would have to be the middle of Australia. For years this slab of land didn’t exactly quite know how to distinguish itself and has gone through 4 transitions in the past century. First it was all South Australia, which didn’t quite make sense because parts of it touched the northern parts of Australia, so it split into 2 – one state and one territory. Then for 4 years it became South Australia and 2 territories – the new one being called Central Australian Territory and finally it changed its mind and went back to being Northern Territory. Central Australia is kind of like your girlfriend at a restaurant. “What do you want?” “What do you want!?!?” “It’s not that simple!” Finally we’ve reached the overseas territories. Although Australia has over 8,000 islands under its sovereignty, 6 of these islands operate as distinct territories, some of which sustain themselves with permanent populations. They are Ashmore and Cartier, the Cocos or Keelings Islands, Coral Sea Islands, the Heard and McDonald Islands and the popular holiday spot – Norfolk Island and the pleasant Christmas Island, that gets attacked by huge coconut crabs every year. Finally Australia is home to arguably the most micro nations in the world. Places like the Principality of Wy, Rainbow Creek, the Empire of Atlantium and more. These “nations” were developed by either small groups of people or a single person because they were doing things like protesting taxes and wanted to claim autonomy or they were just kind of bored and decided to amuse themselves. But still, hey, they tried. Alright, now let’s talk about the landscape, shall we? Okay, not all of Australia is a desert okay, only about 35%. Okay, so besides Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent on the planet. Which explains why yes, 85% of the population lives along the edges of the country within 50 kilometers of the coast. Nonetheless, a lot of places, specifically around the coasts, actually have very temperate and even tropical landscapes. By the north you find tropical zones and wetlands and rainforests. By the far edges on the east and west you can find subtropical zones with lighter forests and plains. A little bit inland close to the interior you find grasslands and flat stretches of semi-arid terrain. In the southeast by Sydney you find temperate cooler arid land with semi-tropical yet slightly dry areas with an abundance of trees and plants. And of course, you have Tasmania which is on a completely different level of green. Then we reach the deep interior where we hit the great deserts like the Great Victoria and Great Sandy deserts, this area is famously known as “The Outback”, the Outback is essentially the area of Australia with long open stretches of red and orange desert that lays out beyond the horizon, with few sparse populations of people that can be found anywhere. It has a dry, rocky, rugged terrain that everybody assumes is teeming with a variety of poisonous insects and reptiles and..well…I mean…it kind of is, but still …there’s more to it than just that. Oh, and don’t forget Lake Hillier – that strange lake that is mysteriously naturally pink, for some strange reason that baffles scientists. Now, if there’s one thing that really epitomizes Australia, it would have to be its world-renowned beaches and coasts. People flock from all over the world just to enjoy the beautiful pristine atmosphere of a real authentic Australian beach. Just rember to put on your sunscreen though, Australians acutally kinda have a joke where they can tell who the ignorant tourists are. It’s usually the ones who think they’ll be totally fine sitting out in the sun for more than 20 minutes. Skin cancer rates are actually exceptionally high in Australia and the population has acknowledged the precautions that they need to take. Now we all know that Australia is home to some of the most unique and curiously distinct animal species in the world not found anywhere else, however Australia is also known as the home of many feral species. Australia has over 50 invasive species that were brought over to the land from areas mostly in Europe and over the course of nearly one and a half centuries have bred and spread like wildfire all over the country. Animals like the european rabbit, red fox, water buffaloes, goats, pigs, even camels and worst of all the famous cane toad. They’ve all gone wild and have cost the Australian government billions of dollars in environmental damages and maintenance. Yeah, I don’t really know how to transition into the demographics from this part so… here’s demographics… Today Australia has a population of about 23 million people. Now to many outsiders, Australia is kind of known as the place where the British sent their prisoners. First of all, that’s rude. Second of all, that’s only like kind of half true. Yes, during the early years of Australia’s colonization from the UK, droves of convicts were sent to penal colonies in Botany Bay, which is now in present-day Sydney. Over 165,000 convicts about 25,000 of which were women, were sent over the course of 80 years. Although the British weren’t the first ones to discover Australia, it was actually the Dutch. As they came, they named the land New Holland and the adjacent island next door New Zealand after the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. However, as we’ll soon discover, the Dutch were really good at discovering places, but kind of not-so-good at colonizing and maintaining those places for themselves. However, most of Australia’s population came from natural colonization from British non-convict nationals. Some would argue that Australia was kind of like the UK’s version of operation – “Back up plan in case of: America Goes Crazy”. After the American Revolution, the UK tried to compensate for lost colonies by reestablishing new ones and Australia was hot on the list. About 85% of the population is European, Asians make up the next largest minority of about 12%, mostly coming from China and India and other southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. And by the way: yes, Australia does have black people. Not many, but before the federation began Africans mostly from sub-Saharan countries like South Africa, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Sudan have historically resided in Australia. It wasn’t until the 60s when African assistance programs allowed many Africans to study and eventually move to Australia. Today, they make up about 1% of the population. One demographic of people that commongly gets overlooked though would have to be the native Australians, commonly known as the Aborigines. Which make up about 3% of the population. Aborigines are very unique and distinct people group that come from hundreds of different tribes each with their own language and dialect spread throughout the north, south and central regions. Today Aboriginal rights are huge hot button topic in Australian legislation. And about 22% of the land of Northern Australia is Aboriginal own. In 2013 Aboriginal groups actually banded together and decided to kind of make their own little state called the Murrawari republic independent from Australia. The Australian government though doesn’t really recognize this claim, it just kinda brushes it off with a “meh, as long as you don’t cause a civil war” attitude. Well, as you can see a lot of people have come to live in Australia, but now let’s see how Australia interacts with the rest of the world. Australia is, let’s just put it very simply, a very popular country. If this was High School, Australia would be on the top of the social ladder hands down; everybody knows something about Australia. When it comes to friends though, Australia not only goes for the cool kids but also the strategic ones. Of course, Australia gets along with many of its Asian neighbour nations, specifically China and India, as large numbers of people from those nations live in Australia and they do great business with them as well. Australia gets along pretty well with the islands of Oceania, except Fiji. In 2006, Australia refused to back up a military coup that overthrew the government in Fiji and since then, things have been a little weird between the two countries. In terms of their best friends though, of course New Zealand would have to rank in the top level and they are basically like siblings that share very similar culture, language and histories as former colonies, whereas the UK also has a high priority on Australia’s entourage, as they make up the largest demographic of people ethnically and as migrants in the country. But finally, we reach the USA. The USA and Australia kinda have a little crush on each other. Australia is always there to back up the U.S. in times when allies are necessary and the U.S., well, I mean – we Americans, we just love Australians. We love their accents, we love their culture, we love their accents, we love their spunky Australian attitude and we love their sexy, sexy accents. Almost any Australian that comes to the U.S. is immediately loved and welcomed even if they are slightly sociopathic, one sentence with that accent and we are smitten. We love you, Australia. In conclusion, Australia is… just… everybody loves Australia. Stay tuned, Austria is coming up next!