Northern Territory, a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. It occupies 519,771 square miles (1,346,200 km 2 ) in north-central Australia and is bounded by South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia. On the north are the Arafura Sea, Timor Sea, and Gulf of Carpentaria.
Broad plateaus cover much of the territory. The greatest elevation, 5,000 feet (1,524 m) above sea level, occurs in the Macdonnell Ranges in the south. Rivers with permanent flow are in the north. They include the Daly, Roper, and Victoria rivers. In the rest of the territory, the rivers generally flow only after a rain. There are several large lakes, which are also intermittent. The north has a humid tropical climate. The coastal area, a region of mangrove swamps and forests, gets the most rainfall, up to 60 inches (1,520 mm) a year. The remaining area is generally warm and dry with shrub and grassland vegetation. There are also extensive deserts in the central and southern portions of the territory.
The territory's economy is based principally on mining. Large amounts of bauxite, manganese, and uranium are produced in Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt. Lead, zinc, and gold are among other minerals produced. Various tropical fruits and vegetables are grown, but in rather small amounts. Cattle raising and prawn fishing are growing industries. Tourism is also growing and is an important part of the economy. Manufacturing industries mainly process agricultural, mineral, and forest products.
Most settlements in the Northern Territory are connected by roads and have air service; there are few railways. Darwin, on the north coast, is the capital, largest city, and only major port. The Northern Territory has a large aborigine population. The total population in 2001 was 210,664; Darwin's was 109,419.