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Western Australia at a glance

AREA: 2,525,500 sq. km.
POPULATION: 1,600,000
CAPITAL: Perth (1,200,000)

The majority of Western Australians live in the capital, Perth, in the south western corner of the state at Lat. 31 57' south and Long. 115 51' east. Straddling the Swan River and situated on the golden beaches of the Indian Ocean, Perth is a spacious, modern and easy-going city and claims to be the world's most remote capital city, Adelaide is 2,200 kilometres east. Early world exploration saw Dirk Hartog land on its coastline in 1616. Western Australia was settled at Perth in 1829 and the early settlers faced harsh times. Floods and droughts were common and it was not until the 1850's when convict labour was introduced to the colony that an infrastructure of bridges and roads began to develop in earnest. Off the coast of Perth is Rottnest Island, a 2,000 hectare island accessed by plane or ferry from Perth or Fremantle.

Western Australia has a varied and interesting geography. The fertile south west corner is a rich rural and agricultural centre producing most crops and dairy products, and the wineries around the Margaret River are among Australia's finest. The far north east, near the Northern Teritory border around Kununnurra, was developed some 25 years ago as a vast irrigation area using the dammed lake for the production of rice crops and other agricultural products. The scheme didn't work at the time, but new interest is being generated and the project looks like being successful in the near future. The north west contains vast mineral wealth and the iron deposits there are among the worlds largest. Commercial diamonds are being mined at the Argyle Diamond mine, and the North West Shelf off the coast has vast oil and gas reserves which are now recognised as Australia's largest. Gold is still mined at Kalgoorlie in the east of the state and many major mining companies have investments in the state. Some pearling is still carried out from Broome on the northern coastline and the rest of the state is made up of vast cattle stations which provide much of the nations beef.

Western Australia is remote from the rest of the country but its capital is recognised as the most beautiful in Australia and it works hard at competing with the eastern states with much success. The international airport in Perth is a popular entry point for visitors to Australia and the state is a good starting point for your Australian holiday. The state emblem is a Black Swan and its floral emblem is the Kangaroo Paw.

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