South Australia is a state of Australia, in the southern central part of the country, along the Southern Ocean. It covers an area of 984 377 km² (380 070 square miles). South Australia is known as both the Festival State and the Wine State and its capital is Adelaide. South Australia became a British province in 1836 and joined the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The state's population is approximately 1.53 million (2004) and most of those reside in the fertile coastal areas and in the valley of the Murray River.
The first recorded European sighting of the South Australian coast was in 1627 when the Dutch ship the Gulden Zeepaert, skippered by Francois Thijssen , examined the coastline. Thijssen named his discovery "Pieter Nuyts Land", after the highest ranking individual on board. The coastline of South Australia was first mapped by Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802.
However, South Australia was only established as a commercial venture in 1831 by the South Australia Company through the sale of land to free settlers. This differed from other Australian states, which were either established as penal colonies or made use of convict labour. It is for this reason that South Australia was legally established as a "province" of Great Britain, as opposed to a colony . Commonly, South Australia was simply referred to as a "colony" and its history during this era is referred to as the "colonial" period. Colonisation of South Australia was largely driven by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who developed a 'theory of colonisation' and George Fife Angas , the largest landowner in the new colony.
The terrain consists largely of arid and semi-arid rangelands, with several low mountain ranges in which the most important mountains are the Mt Lofty-Flinders Ranges system which extends north about 800 kilometres from Cape Jervis to the northern end of Lake Torrens and salt lakes. The western portion of the state consists of the sparsely-inhabited Nullarbor Plain. The principal industries and export of South Australia are wheat, wine and wool. More than half of Australia's wines are produced here.
South Australia has boundaries with every other contiguous Australian state and territory except the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory was originally the Northern Territory of South Australia, becoming a separate territory in 1911. South Australia's south coast is flanked by the Southern Ocean. Its mean temperature range is 29°C in January and 15°C in July. Daily temperatures in parts of the state in January can be up to 48°C.
The manufacturing industry plays a very important role in South Australia's economy, generating 15% of the state's Gross State Product and playing a large part in exports. The manufacturing industry is made up of automotive and component manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and defence technology. South Australia's economy relies on export more than any other state in Australia, which stands at AUD$10 billion worth per year, which grew by 8.8% from 2002 to 2003.
South Australia's economic growth has lagged behind the rest of Australia for some time (grew by 2.1% from 2002 to 2003), but performance seems to be improving (grew by 4.3% in 2003/2004). South Australia's credit rating was recently upgraded to AAA+, having lost it in the State Bank collapse. South Australia's Gross State Product was AUD$48.9 billion starting 2004, making it AUD$32,996 per capita.
South Australia's economy is made of the following industries:
- Services - 66.7%
- Manufacturing - 14.2%
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing - 4.5%
- Mining - 2.2%
- Other - 10.7%
Main article: Government of South Australia
South Australia is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Australia as the head of state. Its bicameral parliament is made up of a House of Assembly (lower house) and a Legislative Council (upper house). The current Premier of South Australia is Mike Rann, a member of the Australian Labor Party.
Initially, the Governor of South Australia (the first was Captain John Hindmarsh ) held almost total power that he derived from the Letters Patent created by the Imperial Government to create the colony. He was only accountable to the British Colonial Office and thus democracy did not exist in the colony. A new body was created to advise the Governor on the administration of South Australia was created in 1843 called the Legislative Council. It was made up of three representatives of the British Government and four colonists appointed by the Governor. The Governor retained total executive power.
In 1851, the Imperial Parliament enacted the Australian Colonies Government Act which allowed for the election of representatives to each of the colonial legislatures and the drafting of a Constitution to properly create representative and responsible Government in South Australia and later that year, wealthy male colonists were allowed to vote for 16 members on a new 24 seat Legislative Council. Eight members continued to be appointed by the Governor.
The main responsibility of this body was to draft a Constitution for South Australia. The body drafted the most democratic constitution ever before seen in the British Empire and provided for manhood suffrage. It created the bicameral Parliament of South Australia and the two houses of parliament. For the first time in the colony, the executive was elected by the people and the colony used the Westminster system where the government is the party or coalition that exerts a majority in the House of Assembly. In 1894, South Australia was the first Australian colony to allow women to vote and it had the first Parliament in the world to allow women to be elected as members. Catherine Helen Spence was the first woman in the Australia to be a candidate for political office when she nominated to be one of South Australia's delegates to the constitutional conventions that drafted the Constitution. South Australia became an original state of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901.
The flag of South Australia was adopted on January 13, 1904; it is a British Blue Ensign faced with the state badge. The badge is described as a piping shrike with wings outstretched on a yellow disc. While the term piping shrike in scientific circles is unknown it is colloqiually referred to as the piping shrike in South Australia. It's more widely accepted name is the Magpie-lark. The state badge is believed to have been designed by Robert Craig of the Adelaide School of Arts .
Education is compulsory for all children until the age of 16, however, the majority of students stay on to complete their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). It is the responsibility of the South Australian government, and Adelaide's public and private education-systems are funded jointly by it and the Commonwealth Government. The South Australia Government provides 89 percent of the total Government funding and the Commonwealth Government 11 percent. 58 percent of the overall amount goes to non-government schools, the theory being that the price of private education will be reduced and accessible to a larger portion of the population, in practice this often hasn't been the case. The issue was raised in the 2004 Federal election but has died down in the meantime.
Places in South Australia
Last updated: 10-12-2005 22:44:54