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Satellite image of eastern South Australia.
Note the dry lakes (white patches) in the north

South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.

It is bordered to the west by Western Australiamarker, to the north by the Northern Territorymarker to the north-east by Queensland, to the east by New South Walesmarker and Victoriamarker, and along the south by the Great Australian Bightmarker and the Southern Oceanmarker. With nearly 1.6 million people, the state comprises less than 10% of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the states and territories. The majority of its people reside in the state capital, Adelaidemarker, with most of the remainder settled in fertile areas along the south-eastern coast and River Murraymarker. The state's origins were unique in Australia as a freely-settled, planned British province rather than a convict settlement. Official settlement began on 28 December 1836, when the state was proclaimed at The Old Gum Treemarker by Governor John Hindmarsh.

The first city/town to be established was Kingscotemarker, Kangaroo Islandmarker, established in 1836. The guiding principle behind settlement was that of systematic colonisation, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefield that was later employed by the New Zealand Company. The aim was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance. Although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, the state is known as a state of festivals and of fine wine. The state's economy centres on the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries and has an increasingly significant finance sector as well.


The first recorded European sighting of the South Australian coast was in 1627 when the Dutchmarker ship the Gulden Zeepaert, captained 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. Baudin referred to the land as "Terre Napoléon".

In 1834, the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act 1834, which enabled the province of South Australia to be established. The act stated that would be allotted to the colony and it would be convict-free. The plan for the colony was that it would be the ideal embodiment of the best qualities of British society, that is, no religious discrimination or unemployment.

Settlement of nine vessels and 636 people was temporarily made at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, until the official site of the colony was selected where Adelaide is currently located. The first immigrants arrived at Holdfast Baymarker (near the present day Glenelgmarker) in November 1836, and the colony was proclaimed on 28 December 1836, now known as Proclamation Day. South Australia is the only Australian state to be settled entirely by free settlers.

The current flag of South Australia was adopted on 13 January 1904, and is a British blue ensign defaced with the state badge. The badge is described as a Piping Shrike with wings outstretched on a yellow disc. The state badge is believed to have been designed by Robert Craig of the Adelaide School of Arts.

South Australia granted restricted women's suffrage in 1861, and in 1894 became the second place in the world to grant universal suffrage (after New Zealand) where women had the dual rights to vote and to stand for election.


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 Rangesmarker system which extends north about from Cape Jervismarker to the northern end of Lake Torrensmarker and salt lakes.

The highest point in the state is not in those ranges, but Mount Woodroffemarker at in the Musgrave Rangesmarker in the extreme northwest of the state. The western portion of the state consists of the sparsely-inhabited Nullarbor Plain fronting the cliffs of the Great Australian Bightmarker.

The principal industries and exports of South Australia are wheat, wine and wool. More than half of Australia's wines are produced there with approximately 30% coming from the Clare Valley region. Recent research necessitated by South Australia's relative scarcity of fossil fuels and baseline renewable energy sources has led to the development of a prototype 'dirt-fired' electricity generator in the eastern Nullarbor. The generator burns low-efficiency/high-volume particulate matter such as sand and dirt to produce energy for South Australian residents.

South Australia has boundaries with every other Australian state and territory except the Australian Capital Territorymarker and Tasmaniamarker. The area now known as the Northern Territory was annexed to South Australia in 1863, however it was handed over to the federal government in 1911 and became a separate territory.South Australia's south coast is flanked by the Southern Ocean.


Its main temperature range is in January and in July. Daily temperatures in parts of the state in January and February can be up to .

The highest maximum temperature was recorded as at Oodnadattamarker on 2 January 1960, which is the highest official temperature recorded in Australia. The lowest minimum temperature was at Yongalamarker on 20 July 1976.


The manufacturing industry plays a very important role in South Australia's economy, generating 15% of the state's Gross State Product (GSP) and playing a large part in exports. The manufacturing industry consists of automotive (44% of total Australian production, 2006) and component manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, defence technology (2.1% of GSP, 2002-2003) and electronic systems (3.0% of GSP in 2006). South Australia's economy relies on exports more than any other state in Australia.

Export earnings stand at AUD$10 billion worth per year and grew by 8.8% from 2002 to 2003.

Production of South Australian food and drink (including agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, fisheries and manufacturing) is a $10 billion industry.

South Australia's economic growth has lagged behind the rest of Australia for some time (2.1% from 2002 to 2003), but performance seems to be improving. South Australia's credit rating was 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. Exports for 2006 were valued at $9.0bn with imports at $6.2bn. Private Residential Building Approvals experienced 80% growth over the year of 2006.

South Australia's economy includes the following major industries: meat and meat preparations, wheat, wine, wool and sheepskins, machinery,metal and metal manufactures, fish and crustaceans, road vehicles and parts, and petroleum products. Other industries, such as education and defence technology, are of growing importance.

South Australia receives the least amount of federal funding for its local road network than any other state on a per capita or per kilometre basis.

Olympic Dam

South Australia possesses the world's single largest known deposit of uranium, at the Olympic Dammarker mine. Olympic Dam contains 40% of the world's known uranium reserves. The Olympic Dam mine is also the world's fourth largest remaining copper deposit, and the world's fifth largest gold deposit.


South Australia is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Australia as Sovereign, and the Governor of South Australia as her representative. It is a state of the Commonwealth of Australia. Its bicameral parliament consists of a House of Assembly (lower house) and a Legislative Council (upper house), with legislative elections held every four years. The current Premier of South Australia is Mike Rann, a member of the Australian Labor Party.

Initially, the Governor of South Australia held almost total power, derived from the Letters Patent of 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 in 1843 called the Legislative Council. It consisted 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. 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 seen in the British Empire and provided for manhood suffrage. It created the bicameral Parliament of South Australia. 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 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.



A majority of the states population live within Adelaide's metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 1,158,259 in 2007 (70.3% of the state). Other significant population centres include Mount Gambiermarker (approx. 23,494), Whyallamarker (21,122), Murray Bridgemarker (18,364), Port Augustamarker (13,257), Port Piriemarker (13,206), Port Lincolnmarker (13,044), and Victor Harbormarker (10,380).


Education is compulsory for all children until age 17, however, the majority of students stay on to complete their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). School education is the responsibility of the South Australian government, but the public and private education systems are funded jointly by it and the Commonwealth Government.

The South Australian Government provides, to schools on a per student basis, 89 percent of the total Government funding while the Commonwealth contributes 11 percent. Since the early 1970s it has been an ongoing controversy that 68 percent of Commonwealth funding (increasing to 75% by 2008) goes to private schools that are attended by 32% of the states students.

On 1 January 2009, the school leaving age was raised from 16 to 17.

There are three public and two private universities in South Australia. The University of Adelaidemarker (established 1874), The Flinders University of South Australia (est. 1966), and The University of South Australiamarker (est. 1991) are the public universities. All three have their main campuses in the Adelaide metropolitan area (UofA and UniSA on North Terrace in the citymarker, Flinders at Bedford Park), but also have other campuses distributed around the metropolitan area, around the state, and the University of Adelaide also has a campus in Singapore.

Metropolitan campuses include: The Waite at Urrbrae, Research Park at Thebarton, The National Wine Centremarker in the Adelaide Park Landsmarker, Magill, Mawson Lakes and Parafield.

Rural and regional campuses include: The Flinders University Rural Clinical Schools at Mount Gambiermarker, Goolwamarker and Renmarkmarker, The Lincoln Marine Science Centre at Port Lincolnmarker, Roseworthy Collegemarker near Roseworthymarker, and UniSA campuses in Mount Gambiermarker and Whyallamarker.

Carnegie Mellon Universitymarker's Heinz School and "Entertainment Technology Center", and Cranfield Universitymarker, also have campuses in Adelaide.

Tertiary vocational education is provided by TAFE South Australia colleges throughout the state.


Australian rules football

Australian rules football is the most popular spectator sport in South Australia, with South Australians having the highest attendance rate in Australia. The state also has the highest participation rate of people taking part in Australian rules football, with over 2.2% of the population aged 18 years and over participating in the sport.

South Australia fields two teams in the Australian Football League national competition: the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power. In 2006, The Adelaide Crows had a membership base of 50,000, higher than any of the other 15 teams in the competition.

The South Australian National Football League, which owns the dedicated Australian Football stadium AAMI Stadiummarker, is a popular local league comprising nine teams.

The South Australian Amateur Football League comprises sixty-eight member clubs playing over one hundred and ten matches per week across ten Senior divisions and three Junior Divisions. The SAAFL is one of Australia's largest and strongest Australian rules football associations.


Cricket is a popular sport in South Australia and attracts big crowds. South Australia has a cricket team, the Southern Redbacks, who play at Adelaide Ovalmarker in the Adelaide Park Landsmarker during the summer; however they have not won a title since 1996. The Redbacks currently have three players who hold a contract with Cricket Australia. Many international matches have been played at the Adelaide Ovalmarker. It was one of the host cities of 1992 Cricket World Cup.

Other sports

South Australia's Association Football team in the new A-League is Adelaide United. Basketball also has a big following in South Australia with the Adelaide 36ers playing out of an 8,070 seat stadium in Findon and winning four championships in the last 20 years in the National Basketball League , and set to continue in both the interim and revamped National League.

Fifty-nine percent of children take part in organised sports. For boys, soccer has the highest participation rate (22%) followed by swimming (16%). For girls netball is most popular (18%) followed by swimming (16%).

Notable places



Main highways:

See also

Food and drink:



  1. Most Australians describe the body of water south of the continent as the Southern Ocean, rather than the Indian Ocean as officially defined by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). In the year 2000, a vote of IHO member nations defined the term "Southern Ocean" as applying only to the waters between Antarctica and 60 degrees south latitude.
  2. Women and Politics in South Australia The State Library of South Australia
  3. The Redefinition of Public Education
  4. Ministerial Council National Report on Schooling in Australia
  5. 4174.0 Sports Attendance, Australia, 2005-06, 25 Jan 2007, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved on 5 July 2009.
  6. source AuSport 2000
  7. South Australian Amateur Football League. Retrieved on 5 July 2009.
  8. Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Dorothy Jauncey, Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes — South Australian Words, Oxford University Press (2004) ISBN 0-19-551770-9

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