The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The geography of the country is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmaniato large deserts, tropical and temperate forests.
Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timorand Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the French dependency of New Caledonia to the east, and New Zealand to the southeast.
Australia is a country, and an island. It is located inOceania between the Indian Ocean and the SouthPacific Ocean. It is the sixth largest country in the world with a total area of 7,686,850 square kilometers (2,967,909 sq. mi) (including Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island), making it slightly smaller than the 48 states of thecontiguous United States and 31.5 times larger than the United Kingdom.
The Australian mainland has a total coastline length of 35,876 km (22,292 mi) with an additional 23,859 km (14,825 mi) of island coastlines. There are 758 estuaries around the country with most located in the tropical and sub-tropical zones. Australia claims an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone of 8,148,250 square kilometres (3,146,057 sq. mi). This exclusive economic zone does not include the Australian Antarctic Territory. Australia has the largest area of ocean jurisdiction of any country on earth. It has no land borders. The northernmost points of the country are the Cape York Peninsula of Queensland and the Top End of theNorthern Territory.
The western half of Australia consists of the Western Plateau, which rises to mountain heights near the west coast and falls to lower elevations near the continental centre. The Western Plateau region is generally flat, though broken by various mountain ranges such as the Hamersley Range, the MacDonnell Ranges, and the Musgrave Range. Surface water is generally lacking in the Western Plateau, although there are several larger rivers in the west and north, such as the Murchison, Ashburton, and Victoria river.
The Eastern Highlands, or Great Dividing Range, lie near theeastern coast of Australia, separating the relatively narrow eastern coastal plain from the rest of the continent. TheseEastern Australian temperate forests have the greatest relief, the most rainfall, the most abundant and varied flora and fauna, and the densest human settlement.
Between the Eastern Highlands and the Western Plateau, lie the Central Lowlands, which are made up of the Great Artesian Basin and Australia's largest river systems, Murray-Darling Basin and Lake Eyre Basin.