Many factors, including a diverse topography, climate, people and a distinct past make Australia unique. Australia resides in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is an island continent, the sixth largest country in the world, and contains mountains, rainforests, deserts and an abundance of exotic flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.
Australia's human population dates back approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Aboriginal people first called Australia home; although joined later by other ethnic groups, Aboriginals remain in Australia today. Aboriginals, according to historians, reached Australia after leaving Asia. Europeans arrived in the 1700s, initially with the 'discovery' of the island by Captain James Cook. Rapid settlement followed, and convicts from mainland Europe added to the population during the 1800s. Although Australia covers a large area of land, humans live primarily along the coastlines. The interior includes a large, vast desert called the Outback. Few living species besides hardy drought and fire-resistant plants and resilient reptiles live there. Although its center remains hot and dry year-round, most of Australia enjoys a moderate climate. Ocean air currents moderate coastal climates, and the highest mountains experience snow. Some of the most iconic animals in the world, including kangaroos, platypus and koalas, live in Australia. Over 450 reptiles call Australia home, including poisonous snakes such as the brown snake and tiger snake.