Australia is the world's largest island and the country with the most people. A tropical climate with warm winters and hot summers prevails over about a third of the country's total land area. Much of Australia is desert, dry, and completely devoid of water; a lack of adequate water supplies has been one of Australia's most significant challenges in exploiting her agriculture, crops, and animals, all of which require abundant and consistent supplies of water to survive. Moreover, the discovery of valuable minerals in desert areas provided an alternative source of revenue, and the construction of large hydroelectric dams provides water to areas that still require it. Australia's population is extremely small in comparison to the country's land area.
The vast majority of the population is made up of English-speaking immigrants; more than twelve million are of European descent, with the remainder consisting primarily of aborigines and Chinese. Australia became an island very early in geological history, and as a result, it has developed a diverse range of animals and plants that are unique to the region. Due to the fact that no other land surface has been subjected to the same influences, the land area, and particularly the more fertile eastern area, contains a variety of interesting features. The marsupials, which are animals that give birth to their young while they are still in an infancy stage of development and rear them in a pouch, are the most well-known Australian animals.
The koala and the kangaroo are the most well-known of these animals, with the latter serving as the country's national emblem. The country can be divided roughly into two parts: the fertile eastern region and the less fertile western region. It takes a long time to get to Australia's interior from the east because of the intensive farming, particularly sheep and dairy farming, which account for a significant portion of the country's exports. Farm and mineral products account for the majority of Australia's exports. Wool, meat, wheat, and now manufactured goods are all exported from the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that wool is Australia's staple product, with the country producing one-third of all the world's wool, significant increases are being made in the production of other crops.
Cotton and rice are currently being developed to meet the needs of the country. The country of Australia is arid and desert-like in the western region. It is in this region that the great cattle ranches, which support nearly thirty million head of cattle on dry land that, prior to the discovery of minerals, could not be used for anything else, thrive. Eastern region has a significant amount of mineral resources. As the world's largest producer of lead and third largest producer of zinc, Australia is also a significant source of other minerals such as chromite ore, copper, and bauxite. Japan is a major customer for the iron ore produced in Australia, and the Port Pirie lead refinery in South Australia is the world's largest lead refinery in terms of production.
It has an annual production capacity of two hundred thousand tonnes. The Australian industrial sector already makes use of a significant portion of the country's mineral wealth. The manufacturing industry employs more than a quarter of the country's labour force, and it produces goods for both the domestic consumer market and the international trade market. The motor industry employs approximately 6% of the total labour force in this country. As new roads are completed across the country, the automobile industry has grown at breakneck speed to meet the demand of an ever-expanding market. In a country as large as the United States, transportation is extremely important, with approximately one car for every two people living in the country.
The Snowy Mountains Scheme in New South Wales is one of the most important sources of new electricity generation in the country. In terms of size, this hydroelectric project is one of the largest in the world. The scheme generates two things that are critical to the development of Australia's industrial sector: power from the hydroelectric schemes, which provides cheap electricity for industry, and water and irrigation from the dams, which increases the productivity of the land and makes it possible to cultivate larger areas of land. Power from the hydroelectric schemes is essential for the development of Australia's industrial sector.
Nuclear energy has not yet been commercialised on a widespread scale. The climate of Australia, which causes water scarcity in many areas and makes the country one of the most pleasant places on the planet to live, also makes it one of the most pleasant places on the planet to visit. Heat and sunshine are available all year round in temperate climates, which are particularly prevalent along the coasts, particularly in the south and east. The coastline has now been transformed into a series of holiday resorts that are in use all year round as the large population of the cities travels out to the coast to relax after a week of working in the cities' downtown areas. More than half of Australia's population resides in the six capital cities of the six states of the country: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Hobart. Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Hobart are the most populous cities in the country.
Despite the fact that the majority of Australians live in cities, they spend enough time in the open air to become internationally renowned as magnificent sportsmen, particularly in cricket, swimming, and tennis. While the combination of food, sun, and fresh air that all Australians enjoy is undoubtedly a significant factor in their sporting success, another important factor is their competitive attitude towards sport at all levels. Education is mandatory from the ages of five to fifteen, and there are fifteen universities that offer courses in virtually every subject. For all Australians, social security benefits are provided.
These include pensions for the elderly and for widowed women, as well as maternity benefits, as well as child allowances for children who are of schooling age. Unemployment and sickness benefits are available, as well as hospital benefits for those who require in-patient treatment in a hospital. There are special rates for people who have tuberculosis, despite the fact that the number of tuberculosis patients is rapidly declining as the standard of living rises. These benefits give the Australian the peace of mind that if he finds himself in a difficult situation, there will be money available to assist him.
Europeans were not the first to settle in Australia. Aboriginal people were the first. Aborigines came before them some fifteen thousand years ago, and they were the first Europeans. These people, who lived until only a few years ago in a manner not dissimilar from that of primitive man some twenty thousand years ago, have a long history. The majority of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have adopted Western ways of life, working as ranch hands on cattle farms, but a small number of tribes continue to practise their traditional ways, particularly in Arnhem Land and the central desert region of the territory.