2. It also is the only continent with no glaciers. (Who knew?)
3. Its population stands currently at about 22,000,000 people; it tripled between 1950 and 2010.
4. European exploration began in the 17th century, but aboriginal settlers had emigrated there from southeast Asia about 40,000-48,000 years before; Europeans did not begin large scale settlement until later in the 18th century. (It’s a big world.)
5. Australia experienced a large gold rush in the 1850s; gold rushes came and went for the next several decades. Many who did not find their fortunes still stayed on as settlers.
6. Over a period of 80 years in the 18th and 19th centuries, more than 165,000 convicts were sent from the British empire to penal colonies in Australia; this fact gives the impression that Australia was nothing more than a glorified prison, but most immigrants were not prisoners, as the gold rush period of 1851-1871 almost quadrupled the country’s population to 1,700,000.
7. The world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, is located off the northeast coast of Australia. (You knew that already, didn’t you?)
8. Australia is the flattest of the continents, and its soil is believed to be the oldest. (Not that much “new” soil could be said to be a spring chicken, mind you.)
9. While much of Australia is on the arid side, it does have its share of tropical rainforests as well. (Diversity is everything. Or is that perspective?)
10. Australia is home to some very interesting animals, including the platypus and the echnida, both of which are egg-laying mammals. (Neither, however, is necessarily a good pet to bring your child for Easter.)