South Australia, a state in south-central Australia. It faces the Great Australian Bight, an inlet of the Indian Ocean, and is bounded by Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. South Australia has an area of 379,924 square miles (983,999 km 2). Maximum dimensions are about 820 miles (1,320 km) north-south and 730 miles (1,175 km) east-west.

Facts in brief about South Australia
State capital: Adelaide.
Largest cities and towns: Adelaide, Whyalla, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln.
Area: 379,700 mi2 (983,500 km2).
Population: 2001 census--1,467,261.
Animal emblem: Southern hairy-nosed wombat.
Bird emblem: Piping shrike.
Floral emblem: Sturt's desert pea.
Chief products: Agriculture—almonds, barley, beef, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, wheat, wine, wool. Manufacturing—motor vehicles and parts, food products, defense technology, iron and steel products, pharmaceuticals, wood products, and printed materials. Mining—gold, barite, coal, copper, dolomite, gypsum, iron ore, limestone, natural gas, opal, petroleum, pyrite, salt, silver, talc, uranium. Fishing industry—abalone, crayfish, lobster, oysters, prawns, salmon, shark, and tuna. Forestry—pulp and paper, softwood.
State badge: Black and white piping shrike on a yellow rising sun.
State colors: Red, blue, and gold.
State gemstone: Opal.
Physical Geography
South AustraliaSouth Australia is a state in south-central Australia.

The terrain consists mainly of flat plains and basins less than 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level. Only scattered mountainous areas, such as the Musgrave Ranges in the northwest and the Flinders Ranges in the southeast, attain elevations of more than 2,000 feet (610 m). The highest point is 4,723-foot (1,440-m) Mount Woodroffe in the Musgrave Ranges. Vast desert regions, including parts of the Great Victoria Desert and the Nullarbor Plain, cover much of the state.

Water is severely limited in South Australia. The only significant river is the Murray, which flows through the southeast. Underlying the northeast is part of the Great Artesian Basin, a large area with underground water-bearing rock. Dry salt lakes, which only occasionally contain water, dot the interior. The largest is Lake Eyre, which lies 52 feet (16 m) below sea level. Two large coastal inlets—Spencer Gulf and Gulf St. Vincent—provide natural harbors.

Southeastern South Australia has a Mediterranean type of climate, marked by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Rainfall there exceeds 20 inches (500 mm) a year. In contrast, the rest of the state is semiarid to arid; much of it has an annual rainfall of less than 10 inches (250 mm). Droughts are frequent. Summers are extremely hot, with daytime temperatures of well over 100° F. (38° C.); winters are mild, but dry. Except for some forests of eucalyptus and pine in the southeast, vegetation consists chiefly of desert grasses and shrubs.


South Australia has a mixed agricultural and industrial economy, with manufacturing the leading activity. Factories in and around Adelaide, the chief industrial center, produce automobiles and automobile accessories, processed foods, textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, and electrical goods. Port Pirie has long been the smelting center for lead and other ores mined in the rich Broken Hill area in New South Wales. The iron and steel and shipbuilding industries at Whyalla rank among the largest such industries in Australia. Although South Australia lacks the mineral wealth of most Australian states, it produces significant amounts of iron ore, copper, petroleum, opals, and natural gas.

Agriculture forms a major segment of the economy, in spite of the relatively small amount of arable land. Farming is concentrated in the more humid southeast, including the irrigated Murray River valley. Wheat is the chief crop, followed by barley, oats, hay, and fruits, notably wine grapes. The state produces most of Australia's wine. Sheep and cattle, grazed on land too dry for cultivation, provide wool, meat, and dairy products. The state has a fairly large fishing industry; tuna, lobster, and oysters are among the chief species caught.

The transportation system serves primarily the heavily populated southeastern part of the state. Railways link this section with Australia's east and west coasts and with Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Airplanes are a major means of transportation, especially in the interior, where there are few roads and railways. Port Adelaide is the state's leading port.

The People

Most South Australians are of British origin; however, there are significant minorities of German, Greek, Dutch, and Slavic descent. In 2001 the population was 1,467,261. Adelaide, the capital and largest city, and its suburbs account for almost three-fourths of the total. Nearly all the people live in the southeast. Settlement in the interior is limited to scattered small communities and large ranches, called stations in Australia.

Education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 and is provided by the state. The University of Adelaide, founded in 1874, is South Australia's main institution of higher learning.

Places to visit in South Australia
Following are brief descriptions of some of South Australia's interesting places to visit:
Adelaide features many historic buildings and places of interest. The Adelaide Festival of Arts is held in late February and early March of even-numbered years.
Barossa Valley is 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of Adelaide. It is an important tourism, grape-growing, and wine-producing region.
Coober Pedy and Andamooka are opal-mining centers. Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world. Visitors with special permits can dig for opals. Because of the extreme heat, many people live in homes that have been dug underground.
Kangaroo Island is a unique wildlife area because it is free from introduced animals. Native Australian wildlife, including koalas, tammar wallabies, rare Australian sea lions, and sand goannas, thrives there.
Mount Gambier takes its name from an extinct volcano close to the Victoria border. In the volcano’s crater are four lakes, one of which, Blue Lake, is famous for its amazing changes in color.

Executive power is vested in a governor, appointed by the British crown, and an executive council, headed by a premier selected from the majority party in parliament. Parliament is made up of two houses—the Legislative Council (upper house), with 22 members elected for six-year terms, and the House of Assembly, with 47 members elected for four years. The judiciary consists of a supreme court and lesser courts. All citizens 18 years of age or older have the right to vote. In most elections voting is compulsory.