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Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere, and the world's smallest continent. Also comprising of a number of nearby islands in the Southern, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (such as Tasmania), Australia encompasses a landmass equal to the USA but with only a 15th of the population. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the French dependency of New Caledonia to the northeast, and New Zealand to the southeast. The name 'Australia' is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning 'of the South'.

Rich in natural beauty, Australia is a land like no other. Surrounded by 22,000 miles of coastline, this is a vast and varied country has an enormous amount to offer, whatever you're looking for. It is home to some of the planet's most recognisable man-made and natural structures, and its 6 states and 2 territories offer a kaleidoscope of diversity. Select one destination to explore, or hire a car and take in several places during your stay. But don't forget the distances involved in cross-country travel - it takes a day to get from the West to the East Coast, so you may need to take an internal flight or hop aboard a train.

The East Coast is the main gateway for first time visitors, not surprising when you consider it's home to the Sydney Opera House and Darling Harbour and the sights of New South Wales. Queensland, meanwhile, lays claim to the sun-drenched Whitsunday Islands, and the World Heritage sites of Fraser Island, the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Combine these with the laid-back cities of Brisbane and Cairns, and the bustle of the Gold Coast and you'll see why the Aussies take their own holidays here.

Western Australia boasts an incredible coastline, dotted with secluded beaches, exquisite wineries and the eerie rock formations of the Pinnacles, as well as lots of opportunities to get close to nature. In the southwestern corner, close to the glistening seas of the Indian Ocean, lies the city of Perth.

Inland, the focus switches to the sights and sounds of the rugged Outback, the vast expanse of arid land that constitutes the Northern Territory. It's an area fortified with outstanding beauty - the 'Top End' is famed for its national parks while the 'Red Centre' is steeped in Aboriginal culture.

Further south you'll discover cosmopolitan cities such as Melbourne in Victoria, Adelaide in South Australia and Hobart in Tasmania. Visit vast wineries, discover nature and tranquility on Kangaroo and Philip Island, drive the meandering Great Ocean road or discover Wine Glass Bay on Tasmania's Eastern coastline.

Map of Australia