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Let Us Read
19. Learn to read these proper names, 71.
20. Read the text and say what new things about Australia you have learned from it.
The Unknown Southern Land
72. Even in medieval1 times there were stories about a large continent in the Southern Hemisphere. But Europeans had never seen it. They wondered what it was like and whether2 it was inhabited. They called this land terra australis incognita,3 or “the unknown southern land” — Australia.
Nowadays when people speak of Australia they can mean three things: 1) Australia as a continent; 2) Australia as an island and 3) Australia as an independent country. Australia is the world’s largest island and its smallest continent. Asia is the continent nearest to Australia in the north. The icy shores of Antarctica lie to the south. New Zealand is to the east. To the west of Australia stretches the vast Indian Ocean. In the east the continent is washed by the Pacific Ocean.
Australia is a land of striking differences. In the centre of the continent and in the west more than 50% of the land is desert — dry and uninhabited. There are three deserts there — the Great Sandy Desert, the Great Victoria Desert and the Gibson Desert, situated between them. Naturally very few people live there. Most of them live on the narrow coasts of the east and southeast. Main cities, where people live among tall office buildings, automobile plants4 and busy factories, are also situated there.
In the northeast, tropical forests cover the coast. In the mountains of the southeast the snow lies for seven months of the year.
Australia is divided into six states and two territories.
New South Wales is Australia’s leading industrial state. Most people live along the east coast, and most of them are in Sydney. Sydney is also the largest city in Australia.
In Victoria most people live in the south. Melbourne is the capital of the state and the largest city. Sheep and wheat are the main products here. Citrus fruits, grapes, peaches and apricots are grown along the Murray River.
Queensland is Australia’s second largest state. Brisbane, its capital, is situated on the east coast. Queensland has long beautiful sandy beaches. Its coast is a popular place for holidaymakers. The climate along the east coast is hot and humid. It is the tropical corner of Australia. Bananas and other tropical fruits are grown here. Most of the land in the south is too dry for farming. Some of Australia’s most unproductive desert lands occupy the bigger part of the state.
The state of Western Australia is dry and inhospitable except the southwestern corner of the state. Nearly all of the state’s farms, sheep stations5 and fruit gardens are situated there. The rest of the state is dry desert land with very few towns or lonely cattle stations.6
South Australia is the third largest state. Most of South Australia’s people, farms and industry are in the southeastern part of the state. Adelaide is the capital and the largest city. Most of South Australia is too dry for farming. Farming very much depends on irrigation [,in'geijh] or underground water. Some of Australia’s most unproductive desert lands occupy the greater part of the state. Wheat and fruit (apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines [’nektsnnz] and grapes) are grown along the lower part of the Murray River.
Tasmania, the island state, is sometimes called the apple isle because it produces most of Australia’s apples. Tasmania is one of the few places in Australia that have enough rain all year. Tasmania is Australia’s leading producer of pears and berries of different kinds. Potatoes are also grown in some areas.
Northern Territory is the least populated and least developed part of Australia. Crocodiles still live in some of the swamps along the coast. Darwin is its capital and the only large settlement in the north. Alice Springs, generally called Alice of the Alice, is the only town in the south.
The capital of Australia is Canberra. The city doesn’t belong to any state. It is situated on the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which occupies an area of 2,432 square kilometres.
21. Say “true”, “false” or “don’t know”. Correct the false statements.
22. Answer the following questions.
23. Australia is often called “the land of striking differences”. Find in the text some facts to prove this.