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14 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Australia

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by Joe Batruny Sep 17, 2014

Australia is the smallest continent in the world but also happens to be the world’s sixth-largest nation by area. While the British didn’t colonize Australia until the late 1700s, the indigenous Australian population has inhabited the landmass for over 40,000 years. With such a long history, there’s an encyclopedic amount of interesting information about the country.

Check out these 14 things you might not know about Australia and see for yourself.

The Great Barrier Postal Service

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, actually has a mailbox from which visitors can send postcards—you’ll find it on the Agincourt Reef.

No swimming!

It was illegal to swim at the beach during daylight hours in Australia from 1828 until 1902, when a beach-goer at Manly Beach defied the law. He was arrested but not charged, paving the way for future daytime swimmers and surfers.

And the winner is:

The Sydney Opera House was designed by Jørn Utzon, who won the competition to design the structure in 1957. His was chosen out of 233 submissions.

Hello? Anybody there?

Due to sheer size and the uninhabitable desert climate dominating much of the continent, Australia is the ninth least-densely populated nation in the world and has by far the least-dense population of countries with over one million citizens. The country’s population density is 3.07 people per square kilometer.

Challenge accepted

Australia has more than 10,000 beaches. You could visit a different beach every day for over 27 years and not manage to see them all.

Take that Greenland

Australia is over three times larger than Greenland, which is considered the largest island in the world. Australia is typically omitted from island rankings because it’s a continent as well. 

That’s a lot of angry camels

The world’s largest camel herd is found in Australia. About 750,000 camels roam Australia’s Outback and are notorious for raiding farms.

I know this place with amazing baklava

Melbourne has the largest Greek population anywhere on the planet outside of Greece. As of 2001, the Greek Australian population of Melbourne numbered 151,785.

The grass is always greener…

Running from Queensland to South Australia, the Dingo Fence, or Dog Fence, is the longest fence in the world, measuring 3,488 miles. As the name suggests, it was meant to keep predator dingoes out of livestock pasture.

They invented Uggs—or did they?

Ugg boots are claimed by Australia (New Zealand contests this), with some saying they’ve been worn in rural Australia since the 1920s. The popular brand UGG Australia is actually an American company, however. 

There’s no going back now

A red kangaroo and emu stand stoically on Australia’s coat of arms. The two animals were chosen due to the common belief that neither animal can move backwards easily, symbolizing a nation moving forward.

Australia’s hidden gem

Australia’s national gemstone is opal. The country produces 97% of the world’s supply, the majority of which comes from Southern Australia.

Here’s the beef

While Australia exports its beef to many markets around the world, the largest importers of Australian beef are the United States, Korea, and Japan.

Australian flag

As of 2013, 27.7% of Australia’s population was born in another country. According to the same statistics, the United States’ foreign-born population comes in at a relatively paltry 14.3%. 

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