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Australia

Australia

Geography & Topography

Capital: Canberra

Population: 22,899,449 people

Area: 7,892,024 km2   

Language: English

Ethnic Groups: Nominated ancestory – English (36.1%), Australian (35.4%), Irish (10.4%), Scottish (8.9%), Italian (4.6%),German (4.5%), Chinese (4.3%), Indian (2%), Greek (1.9%), Dutch (1.7%)

Religion: Christian (61.1%), No Religion (22.3%), Other (7.2%)

Currency: Australian dollar

 

 

History

Australia is the smallest continent but biggest island in the world and has a population of approximately 22 million people. Located in the southern hemisphere and bordered by the Indian ocean to west and the south Pacific ocean to the east, it is the sixth biggest country in the world ion land area.  Prior to the English settlement in 1788, Australia was inhabited for at least 40,000 years by Indigenous Australians. Navigator James Cook was the first one to claim the east coast of Australia to for Britain in 1770 which resulted in a long area of exploration, colonization and settlement. Today, it is one of the world’s most multicultural countries, where indigenous and immigrant cultures all blend together.

Australia is a stable, culturally diverse and democratic society with one of the strongest performing economies in the world. Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and was formerly ironically known as ‘the lucky country’ but it has since lost its irony to describe the people’s good fortune and the good Australian weather.

Australia has 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, and a great number of its native plants, animals and birds exist nowhere else in the world. From tropical rainforests in the north, to the deserts of the Red Centre, to the snowfields in its south-east, to the Australian Antarctic Territory, Australia is a vast and varied country. It has many internationally recognised World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park and the Sydney Opera House.

 

Performing Arts

Music

 

Indigenous Australians used music for a variety of reasons, for example one particular clan may share songs about clan or family history known as Emeba (Groote Eylandt), Fjatpangarri (Yirrkala), Manikay (Arnhem Land) or other native terms. Songs are about clan or family history and songlines (“Yiri” in the Walpiri language) relate to the Dreamtime. These songs often describe how the features of the land were created and named during the Dreamtime. By singing the songs in the appropriate order, Indigenous Australians could navigate through vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia.

 

 

 

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Australian music are:

 

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Didgeridoo

Aboriginal man playing Didgeridoo in Sydney,Australia

Didgeridoo (Yidaki):  Didgeridoo literally means ‘the music’ and is one of the oldest instruments on the planet. It is made from a long hollow log (traditionally eucalyptus wood) which is sometimes fitted with a mouthpiece made from beeswax through which the player blows. In traditional situations it is played only by men, usually as an accompaniment to ceremonial or recreational singing or, much more rarely, as a solo instrument. Skilled players use the technique of circular breathing to achieve a continuous sound, and also employ techniques for inducing multiple harmonic resonances. Although traditionally the instrument was only used by Aboriginal groups in the most northerly areas of Australia, today it is commonly considered the national instrument of the Australian Aborigines and is world renowned as a unique and iconic instrument.

 

 

 

 

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Clapsticks

Aboriginal children playing with Clapsticks

 

Clapsticks:  The clapsticks are a distinct indigenous instrument which provides rhythm for the didgeridoo. Clapsticks set the beat for the melody of the didgeridoo music; therefore the speed of the clapsticks determines the speed of the didgeridoo.

 

Dance

Dance in Australia knows a great variety, ranging from the Indigenous dances, traditional Australian Bush dance, Ballet to more contemporary dancing as well as multicultural traditional dances originating from over 200 different traditions represented in Australia.

 

 

 

Examples of traditional Australian dances include:

 Indigenous Australian Dance: This traditional dance was always narrowly related to song and was understood and experienced as making present the reality of the dreamtime.

Traditional aboriginal music dance: Dancing styles varied throughout the hundreds of tribal groups. The immense variety of aboriginal tribal group inevitably resulted in hundred of different dances. Yet there may be some similarities, dancing was done with set arm, body and foot movements with a lot of foot stamping. Today we call this “shake a leg “. The best dancers and singers enjoyed wide reputations and high respect.

These dances often imitated animals or birds that originate from Australia. Serious ritual or sacred dancing was quite distinct from light hearted camp dancing that men, women and children could share.

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Australia has 1500 species of spiders and over 6000 species of flies.
  • Australia has the lowest population density in the world, only two people per square kilometre.
  • There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia, although there are only about 22 million people.

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