Australia - Dependencies



Since 1936, Australia has claimed all territory in Antarctica (other than Adélie Land) situated south of 60° S and between 45° and 160° E , an area of some 6.1 million sq km (2.4 million sq mi), or nearly 40% of the continent. Three scientific and exploratory bases are now in operation: Mawson (established February 1954), Davis (established January 1957), and Casey (established February 1969).

Ashmore and Cartier Islands

The uninhabited, reef-surrounded Ashmore Islands, three in number, and Cartier Island, situated in the Indian Ocean about 480 km (300 mi) north of Broome, Western Australia, have been under Australian authority since May 1934. In July 1938, they were annexed as part of the Northern Territory. Cartier Island is now a marine reserve.

Christmas Island

Situated at 10°30′ S and 105°40′ E in the Indian Ocean, directly south of the western tip of Java, Christmas Island is 2,623 km (1,630 mi) northwest of Perth and has an area of about 135 sq km (52 sq mi). Until its annexation by the UK in 1888, following the discovery of phosphate rock, the island was uninhabited. The total estimated population in 2002 was 474, of whom 70% were Chinese and 10% were Malay. The only industry was phosphate extraction. The governments of Australia and New Zealand decided to close the mine in December 1987. Christmas Island was transferred from the UK to Australia on 1 October 1958. Abbott's booby is an endangered species on the island.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a group of coral atolls consisting of 27 islands with a total land area of 14 sq km (5 sq mi) in the Indian Ocean, at 12°5′ S and 96°53′ E , about 2,770 km (1,720 mi) northwest of Perth. The estimated population of the two inhabited islands was 632 in 2002. A British possession since 1857, the islands were transferred to Australia in 1955 and are administered by the minister for territories. In 1978, the Australian government bought out the remaining interests (except for personal residences) of the Clunies-Ross heirs on the islands. The climate is pleasant, with moderate rainfall. Principal crops are copra, coconut oil, and coconuts. The airport is a link in a fortnightly service between Australia and South Africa.

Coral Sea Islands

The Coral Sea Islands were declared a territory of Australia in legislation enacted during 1969 and amended slightly in 1973. Spread over a wide ocean area between 10° and 23°30′ S and 154° and 158° E , the tiny islands are administered by the minister for the Capital Territory and have no permanent inhabitants— although there is a manned meteorology station on Willis Island.

Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard Island, at 53°6′ S and 72°31′ E , about 480 km (300 mi) southeast of the Kerguelen Islands and about 4,000 km (2,500 mi) southwest of Perth, is about 910 sq km (350 sq mi) in size. Bleak and mountainous, it is dominated by a dormant volcano, Big Ben, about 2,740 m (8,990 ft) high. There was a station at Atlas Cove from 1947 to 1955, but the island is now uninhabited and is visited occasionally by scientists. Just north is Shag Island, and 42 km (26 mi) to the west are the small, rocky McDonald Islands. The largest island of the group was visited for the first time, it is believed, on 27 January 1971, by members of the Australian National Antarctic Expedition. The territory was transferred from the UK to Australia at the end of 1947.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island, at 54°30′ S and 158°40′ E , is about 1,600 km (1,000 mi) southeast of Hobart. The rocky, glacial island, 34 km (21 mi) long and about 3 to 5 km (2 to 3 mi) wide, is uninhabited except for a base maintained at the northern end since February 1948. Macquarie Island has been a dependency of Tasmania since the early 19th century. At the most southerly point, the island has what is believed to be the biggest penguin rookery in the world. Two small island groupings are off Macquarie Island: Bishop and Clerk, and Judge and Clerk.

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island, with an area of 36 sq km (14 sq mi), is situated at 29°3′ S and 167°57′ E , 1,676 km (1,041 mi) east-northeast of Sydney. Discovered in 1774 by Capt. James Cook, it was the site of a British penal colony during 1788–1814 and 1825–55. In 1856, it was settled by descendants of the Bounty mutineers. As of 2002, the estimated permanent population was 1,866. Transport is almost exclusively by motor vehicle. The soil is fertile and the climate conducive to the growing of fruits and bean seed, as well as the famed Norfolk Island pine. Tourism is also important. As of 2003, endangered species on Norfolk Island included the gray-headed blackbird, Norfolk Island parakeet, the white-breasted silver-eye, the green parrot, the Morepork (Boobook owl), and the Bird of Providence (Providence Petrel). In 1996, Phillip Island was added to the Norfolk Island National Park.

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