Australia (continent)

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Coordinates: 26°S 141°E / 26°S 141°E / -26; 141

Not including New Guinea
Australia (orthographic projection).svg
Area7,690,000 km2 (2,970,000 sq mi) (7th)
Population25,925,600 (6th)
3.4/km2 (8.8/sq mi)
CountriesAustralia[note 1]
LanguagesEnglish and approximately 70 Indigenous Australian languages
Time zonesUTC+8, UTC+9:30, UTC+10
Largest citiesList of cities in Australia by population
Including New Guinea
Australia-New Guinea (orthographic projection).svg
Area8,500,000 km2 (3,300,000 sq mi) (7th)
Population39,000,000[note 3] (6th)
4.2/km2 (11/sq mi)
LanguagesEnglish, Indonesian, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, 269 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages, and approximately 70 Indigenous Australian languages
Time zonesUTC+8, UTC+9:30, UTC+10
Internet, .id, and .pg
Largest citiesList of cities in Australia by population
List of cities and towns in Papua New Guinea by population

The continent of Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The continent is sometimes defined as mainland Australia and Tasmania along with smaller surrounding islands. At other times the continent is defined as including the island of New Guinea (which lies on the same continental shelf) and its surrounding smaller islands along with Australia.

Australia only[edit]

The continent of Australia is sometimes defined as including mainland Australia and its surrounding islands including Tasmania, making it the world's smallest continent.[1][2] When this definition is used, Australia is the world's only continent that is governed by a single nation state, Australia.[3][4]

When defined as only Australia, the continent is approximately 7,690,000 square kilometres (2,970,000 sq mi) in size.[1] It is the world's lowest lying continent, its highest point is Mount Kosciuszko with an elevation of 2,228 metres (7,310 ft), the lowest point is Lake Eyre which is 15 metres (49 ft) below sea level, and the continent’s average elevation is 330 metres (1,080 ft).[2]

Australia and New Guinea[edit]

The continent of Australia is also sometimes defined as encompassing a larger area, being the Australian mainland, Tasmania and the island of New Guinea, all of which share a shallow continental shelf.[5] This definition encompasses all of the modern landmasses that at times of lower sea levels were encompassed in the prehistoric continent referred to as Sahul.[6] With the inclusion of New Guinea, the continent is governed by three nation states: Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia (which governs Western New Guinea).[7]

Under this definition New Guinea represents a mountainous northern margin of the Australian continent, as New Guinea is one of the most mountainous islands in the world.[7] The highest point in New Guinea is Puncak Jaya with an elevation of 4,884 metres (16,024 ft).[8] The combined area of Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania is approximately 8,500,000 square kilometres (3,300,000 sq mi).[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Excluding Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, the Lord Howe Island Group, Macquarie Island, and Norfolk Island.
  2. ^ a b Excluding Cato Reef, Elizabeth Reef, Mellish Reef, Middleton Reef, and some small reefs in the Cato Trough.
  3. ^ Estimated population of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Western New Guinean region of Indonesia for 2019.
  4. ^ Excluding the Islands Region
  5. ^ Papua and West Papua provinces.




  • Berra, Tim M. (1998). A natural history of Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd. ISBN 0-86840-472-1.
  • Blewett, Richard S.; Kennett, Brian L. N.; Huston, David L. (2012). "Australia in time and space" (PDF). In Blewett, Richard S. (ed.). Shaping a nation: a geology of Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) and ANU E Press. ISBN 978-1-921862-82-3.
  • Davies, Hugh L. (2012). "The geology of New Guinea - the cordilleran margin of the Australian continent". Episodes Journal of International Geoscience. 35 (1): 87–102. doi:10.18814/epiiugs/2012/v35i1/008. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  • Gribbin, John (27 November 1975). "Climatic change down under". New Scientist. Vol. 68, no. 977. London: New Scientist Publications. pp. 523–525. ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  • Helgen, Kristofer M.; Miguez, Roberto Portela; Kohen, James L.; Helgen, Lauren E. (28 December 2012). "Twentieth century occurrence of the Long-Beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijnii in the Kimberley region of Australia". ZooKeys (255): 103–132. doi:10.3897/zookeys.255.3774. PMC 3560862. PMID 23459668.
  • Kennett, B. L. N.; Chopping, R.; Blewett, R. (2018). The Australian continent: a geophysical synthesis. Canberra: Australian National University Press. ISBN 9781760462475.
  • White, J. Peter; O'Connell, James F. (1982). A prehistory of Australia, New Guinea and Sahul. Sydney: Academic Press Australia. ISBN 0-12-746750-5.

External links[edit]