Western Australia (WA) is the largest of the six states of Australia. Having an area of over 2.64 million square kilometres makes Western Australia the second-largest administrative division in the world. The state is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the north, west, and south. To the northeast is the Northern Territory, and to the southeast is South Australia.
Approximately 2.3 million people live in Western Australia, which is 10 percent of the national population. Over 85 percent of Western Australia residents live in the southwest portion of the state. The capital city of Perth is located on the coast of this quadrant. At a population of 1.55 million people, 75 percent of Western Australians live in the capital city. The people of this state are often referred to as sandgropers, an insect commonly found around Perth. This term has come to be embraced, and a mascot named Sunny the Sandgroper was developed in the 1980s.
Geography of Western Australia
Although the total area of Western Australia is over 2.64 million square km, its land area is 2.5 million square km. The circumference of the state is 14,751 km, 12,889 of which is coastline. The land consists of some of the oldest rock in the world, with some being formed over 3.2 billion years ago. Most of the state is on a low plateau at about 400 metres above sea level. Near the coast, the elevation can drop very suddenly, forming escarpments such as the Darling Scarp just outside Perth.
Western Australia has a Mediterranean climate and consists of dense forest that included large groves of karri, which are some of the tallest trees on the planet. Average rainfall ranges from 300 mm to 1400 mm annually. Most of the rainfall occurs from April to October. From November to March, the state experiences a rain deficit and extreme dryness. The four-fifths of the state located nearest the centre of Australia is semiarid desert. A small portion of the state in the north is considered tropical. It is extremely rare for snow to fall anywhere in the state. Average high temperatures range from 17C in July to 30C in February. The average annual low temperature is around 5C.
Western Australia has a very high biodiversity. On the land and in the water are no less than 9,437 different species of plants. Over 540 species of birds can be found on the ground and in the air over the state. The coast also has a high number of species due to the rich environment created by the Leeuwin Current.
History of Western Australia
The first hominids in Western Australia are thought to have arrived about 50,000 years ago, becoming the indigenous Australian people. The Dutch were the first Europeans to explore the area, beginning in 1616. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, French and British ships began to arrive, but it was the British who first claimed a settlement in 1826, King George Sound, which later became Albany. The Swan River Colony was formed soon after in 1829, and only three years later, over 1,500 British colonists lived in the area. The colonists formed two early townships that became Perth and Fremantle.
Population growth was slow but took off after the discovery of gold and other valuable minerals. Mining brought in new settlers and services, including a railroad and water pipeline. Today, it is estimated that over 77 percent of the population in Western Australia is of European descent with 43 percent of British descent.
Economy of Western Australia
The driving force of the Western Australian economy is mining and mineral processing. The abundance of minerals and petroleum in the state puts the gross state product per person at over $70,000. In comparison, the national average is $54,606. In recent years, the service industry has seen substantial growth, with insurance, finance, and real estate leading the sector. In addition, agriculture accounts for $1.7 billion in export income.
Culture in Western Australia
Western Australia has made major improvements in its education system since the beginning of the 21st century. All students are required to complete 12 years of primary and secondary education. Prominent universities in the state include the University of Western Australia, University of Notre Dame, Curtin University, Murdoch University, and Edith Cowan University.
Two daily newspapers are distributed throughout Western Australia: The West Australian and The Kalgoorlie Miner. The Sunday Times is a weekly state newspaper, and 17 other smaller community newspapers are distributed.
Western Australia is also home to several professional sports teams. Professional sports with Western Australian teams are football, Australian football, rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, netball, and field hockey.