(IGP) GS Paper 1 - India & World Geography - "Australia"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre)

Subject - India & World Geography
Chapter : Australia


Capital : Canberra

Situation : Australia, the only continent that is also a country. It lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is surrounded by Timor Sea in the northwest, Arafura Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, Great Barrier Reef in the northeast and Great Australian Bight in the south. To the south-east of mainland lies the mountainous island of Tasmania.

Principal States and Territories:

It is divided into six states and two centrally administered territories of which Western Australia is the largest state while New South Wales is the most populous. It also includes the island of Tasmania.

Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania

Australia - Physical:

The Great Dividing Range

  • The most elevated part of Australia, also known as Eastern Highlands, extends from Cape York Peninsula (Queensland) to Victoria and continues beyond the Bass Strait into Tasmania.
    Example of block-fault mountains, nowhere wider than 161 km and at places as narrow as 48 km.
  • Major source of minerals, timber, water and hydel-power.
  • Name was given for its function of dividing watersheds, which determines the direction of flow of many rivers.

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Central Lowlands

  • Located along the western flanks of the Great Dividing Range from Gulf of Carppentaria in the north of the Great Australian Bight in the South.
  • Consists series of basins, low lying land, lakes and old lake beds.
  • Surface of Lake Eyre is the lowest in the region at about 12 m below sea level.
  • The region contains two large basins the Great Artesian Basin and the Murray Darling Basin.

The Western Plateau Region

  • A shield made in Pre Cambrian era rich in mineral resources.
  • Australia’s largest structural unit—a high tableland.
  • Contains the desert regions—Great Sandy, Gibson and Great Victoria deserts.
  • Fringe area consists of low lying mountains ranges and vast basins along the coasts.


Area: 2,69,057 sq. km (excluding dependencies) 

Population : 3.8 million

Latitude : 34005'-47020'S

Capital : Wellington 

Longitude : 166010'-178020'E

Situation : The three main island of New Zealand are situated to the south east of Australia and 10,000 km west of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean. The two larger islands, North and South Islands are long and narrow and the third, Stewart Island, is the smaller one.

Physical Features:

Southern Alps

The mountains of the South Island, includes the country’s highest peak, Mount Cook (3,764 m).  

Canterbury Plains

The most extensive plains, an example of Piedmont Alluvial Plain crossed by rivers cover 12,500 km of the South Island’s east coast.

  • The chief farming region in New Zealand.

Mount Egmont

  • An extinct volcano in south-west of North Island.
  • Situated to the north of central volcanic plateau of North Island.


  • Situated on the southern tip of the North Island.
  • Country’s capital and also the southernmost capital city of the world.
  • An important sea port on the Cook Strait.
  • Cattle rearing and dairy is the main economic activity around this city.


  • Biggest city of the country and also the largst port on the coast of North Island.


  • Major industrial centre of the South Island.

The Pacific Islands:

  • Scattered across the Pacific Ocean, between 1300W at a distance of 11,265 km are thousands of islands with a total land area of 2,60,0001 sq. km excluding New Zealand and New Guinea. They are made up of three main groups: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Important Independent Islands:

Micronesia (Tiny Islands)

  • Consists of four smaller group of islands, they are Northern Mariana, Caroline, Marshall and Gilbert islands (now Kiribati).

  • Guam (Mariana) is the largest island of Micronesia. • It is an important US military base and tourist destination.

Federal states of Micronesia

Area : 702 sq. km. 

Population: 1,31,500

Capital : Palikir

  • Formerly known as Caroline islands, is an archipelago of western Pacific.

Kiribati (Gilbert and Ocean Island)

Area : 861 sq. km. 

Population : 85,501

Capital : Tarawa

  • These islands are spread over a vast area in South West Pacific.
  • Has high grade phosphate deposits. Agriculture and fishing are the main occupations.


Area : 21.1 sq. km. 

Population : 10,605 

Capital: Yaren district

  • World’s third smallest independent state.
  • Lies to the south of equator in the Central Pacific Ocean.
  • It is a coral island with huge deposits of phosphate.

Polynesia (Many Islands)

  • The group of islands within the “triangle” is known as Polynesia.
  • It includes Tuvalu, Samoa, Cook Islands, and Easter islands, French Polynesia, Nive, Pitcairn Islands, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna.


Area : 26 sq. km. 

Population: 10,588

Capital : Funafuti

  • Formerly known as Ellice Islands
  • World’s fourth smallest independent state.
  • It is a scattered group of nine small atolls in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Melanesia (Black Islands)

  • It is the most westerly Pacific island group.
  • Lies between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, it is divided politically into Irian Barat and Papua New Guinea - the Bismarcks, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji Island and Vanuatu.

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