November 23, 2013

0875 AUSTRALIA - The map and the flag of the country

Considered a continent because sit on its own tectonic plate, but also an island, because is separated from all other continents by water, Australia is ocupied of a single country, officially named the Commonwealth of Australia, which comprise also the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's 6th largest country, but only 52nd in terms of population, because the largest portion of land is occupied by desert or semi-arid land, although not lacking subtropical rainforests and mountain ranges. On the other hand, although inhabited with 48,000 years ago by the ancestry of current Aboriginals (which are now only 2.5% of the population), Europeans discovered Australia only in 1606, erecting the first settlement in the late 18th century, and using it for long time mainly as penal colony. These hasn't prevented it from becoming in the last decades one of the wealthiest country in the world, with the world's 12th-largest economy.

As is known, mainly because of the continent's long geographic isolation, but also of tectonic stability, and of the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change over geological time, Australia has a high level of endemism in flora and fauna. The marsupials occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world. Further Australia is home to two (the Platypus and the Short-beaked Echidna) of the 5 known extant species of monotremes and has numerous venomous species. The flora has strong affinities with the flora of Gondwana, and below the family level has a highly endemic angiosperm flora.

Australia has six states, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, and two major mainland territories, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Federal legislation overrides state legislation only in areas that are set out in Section 51 of the constitution. The states are sovereign entities, although subject to certain powers of the Commonwealth, and each of them has its own parliament. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II at its apex as the Queen of Australia, she being represented by the viceroys in Australia. In a 1999 referendum, 55% of voters and a majority in every state rejected the proposal to become a republic.

The flag of Australia is a defaced Blue Ensign: a blue field with the Union Jack (British flag) in the canton (upper hoist quarter), and a large white seven-pointed star (the Commonwealth Star) in the lower hoist quarter. The fly contains a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars - one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars. The flag was first flown in Melbourne on 3 September 1901; this date has been proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day. 1901 was the year in which the six separate British self-governing colonies in Australia formed one nation.

About the stamp
The stamp belongs to Australian Bush Babies series, about which I wrote here.

Australia - Wikipedia
Australia flag -

sender 1: Heather Daws (direct swap)
sent from Poowong (Victoria / Australia), on 31.01.2013

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