Photo: Channon Market (2007)
Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighboring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
Much of the continent has lain flat for hundreds of millions of years with no volcanoes or earth movements to bring nutrients to the surface, so soils tend to be poor. It is also the driest of all non-polar continents and has the least predictable rainfall, so fauna and flora have had a few challenging conditions to adapt.