Australia is a large country lying between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia is an island, like Britain, but unlike Britain, it is vast. It is, in fact, nearly twenty-five times as large as the British Isles. Its area is about 8,000,000 square km. The population of Australia is about 18 mln. Most of Australia is semi-desert. People cannot live where there is no water, and so most of people in Australia live in the richer south-east. The first Australian people were dark-skinned Aborigines, and though the coming of the white settlers destroyed their tribal lives, some sixty thousand still survive in Australia today. Their account for about 1 percent of the population. They may be found in the island areas of the country. Some live in modern cities but it is not really easy for them. They have to fight for their rights. The first Europeans to land in this country were Dutch sailors. The national holiday, Australia Day, is now celebrated on or near January 26th in memory of landing of the British in 1788. The young country grew very fast. Today Australia is an independent federative state consisting of 6 states and 2 territories. It is a member of the Commonwealth headed by the British Queen. The national language is English. The capital of Australia is Canberra; the largest cities are Sidney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.