Australia has sovereign rights over an area of ocean greater in size than its continental land mass.
Often deeply incised and fronting numerous seas and oceans, the coastline extends almost 60 000 kilometres in length with 40 per cent encircling islands.
The Australian continent is almost as long as it is wide.
Of the six states and three mainland territories, the two largest occupy more than half of Australia.
Australia comprises just five per cent of the world's land area, yet it is the planet's sixth largest country.
Officially, there is no centre of Australia, but over time and with ingenuity, several methods for calculating the centre of the mainland have been developed.
The positions of the borders are mostly familiar. The more unusual include one separating states which is only 85 metres long and another which is entirely surrounded by a state.
Flooding rains and searing temperatures produce a highly variable climatic pattern which moulds Australia's landscape, its nature and human activity.
As a geographic and economic entity, Australia's territory ranges far beyond its political and continental borders.
Topic contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated: November 18, 2010