Australian Capital Territory facts for kids

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Australian Capital Territory
Flag of the Australian Capital Territory
Flag
Slogan or nickname The Nation's Capital
Motto(s) For the Queen, the Law and the People
Map of Australia with the Australian Capital Territory highlighted
Other Australian states and territories
Coordinates 35°18′29″S 149°7′28″E / 35.30806°S 149.12444°E / -35.30806; 149.12444Coordinates: 35°18′29″S 149°7′28″E / 35.30806°S 149.12444°E / -35.30806; 149.12444
Capital city Canberra
Demonym Canberran
Government Constitutional monarchy
 • Chief Minister Andrew Barr (ALP)
Australian territory  
 • Transferred to Commonwealth 1911
 • Responsible government 1988
Area  
 • Total 2,358 km² (8th)
910 sq mi
 • Land 2,280 km²
880 sq mi
 • Water 77.6 km² (3.29%)
30 sq mi
Population
(March 2016)
 
 • Population 395,200 (7th)
 • Density 173.3/km² (1st)
448.8 /sq mi
Elevation  
 • Highest point Bimberi Peak
1,912 m (6,273 ft)
 • Lowest point Murrumbidgee River
429 m (1,407 ft)
Gross territorial product
(2009–10)
 
 • Product ($m) $25,988 (6th)
 • Product per capita $72,411 (2nd)
Time zone(s) UTC+10 (AEST)
UTC+11 (AEDT)
Federal representation  
 • House seats 2/150
 • Senate seats 2/76
Abbreviations  
 • Postal ACT
 • ISO 3166-2 AU-ACT
Emblems  
 • Floral Royal bluebell
 • Bird Gang-gang cockatoo
 • Colours Blue and gold
Website www.act.gov.au

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT; formerly, "The Territory for the Seat of Government" and, later, the "Federal Capital Territory") is the federal district in the south east of Australia, enclaved within New South Wales. Its only city is Canberra, the capital city of Australia.

Geographically, the territory is bounded by the Goulburn-Cooma railway line in the east, the watershed of Naas Creek in the south, the watershed of the Cotter River in the west, and the watershed of the Molonglo River in the north-east. The ACT also has a small strip of territory around the southern end of the Beecroft Peninsula, which is the northern headland of Jervis Bay.

The need for a national territory was flagged by colonial delegates during the Federation conventions of the late 19th century. Section 125 of the Australian Constitution provided that, following Federation in 1901, land would be ceded freely to the new Federal Government. The territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by the state of New South Wales in 1911, two years prior to the naming of Canberra as the national capital in 1913. The floral emblem of the ACT is the royal bluebell and the bird emblem is the gang-gang cockatoo.

The economic activity of the Australian Capital Territory is heavily concentrated around Canberra. A stable housing market, steady employment and rapid population growth in the 21st century have led to economic prosperity and in 2011 CommSec ranked the ACT as the second best performing economic region in the country. This trend continued into 2016, when the territory was ranked the third best performing out of all of Australia's states and territories. There is a higher proportion of young adults in the region compared with other Australian states or territories. Approximately one-fifth of ACT residents were born outside of Australia, mainly in the United Kingdom. Almost one-fifth speak a language other than English at home, the most common being Chinese.

Geography

ACT-Jervis Bay-Sydney-MJC
Location of the ACT and Jervis Bay

The ACT is bounded by the Goulburn-Cooma railway line in the east, the watershed of Naas Creek in the south, the watershed of the Cotter River in the west, and the watershed of the Molonglo River in the north-east. The ACT also has a small strip of territory around the southern end of the Beecroft Peninsula, which is the northern headland of Jervis Bay.

Apart from the city of Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory also contains agricultural land (sheep, dairy cattle, vineyards and small amounts of crops) and a large area of national park (Namadgi National Park), much of it mountainous and forested. Small townships and communities located within the ACT include Williamsdale, Naas, Uriarra, Tharwa and Hall.

Tidbinbilla is a locality to the south-west of Canberra that features the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, operated by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of its Deep Space Network.

There are a large range of mountains, rivers and creeks in the Namadgi National Park. These include the Naas and Murrumbidgee Rivers.

See also: Fauna of the Australian Capital Territory and Flora of the Australian Capital Territory
Swans on molonglo river
The Molonglo River, located in the north-east of the region.

Climate

Because of its elevation 650 metres (2,130 ft) and distance from the coast, the Australian Capital Territory experiences four distinct seasons, unlike many other Australian cities whose climates are moderated by the sea. Canberra is noted for its warm to hot, dry summers, and cold winters with occasional fog and frequent frosts. Many of the higher mountains in the territory's south-west are snow-covered for at least part of the winter. Thunderstorms can occur between October and March, and annual rainfall is 623 mm (24.5 in), with rainfall highest in spring and summer and lowest in winter.

The highest maximum temperature recorded in the ACT was 42.8 °C (109.0 °F) at Acton on 11 January 1939. The lowest minimum temperature was −14.6 °C (5.7 °F) at Gudgenby on 11 July 1971.

Geology

Notable geological formations in the Australian Capital Territory include the Canberra Formation, the Pittman Formation, Black Mountain Sandstone and State Circle Shale.

In the 1840s fossils of brachiopods and trilobites from the Silurian period were discovered at Woolshed Creek near Duntroon. At the time, these were the oldest fossils discovered in Australia, though this record has now been far surpassed. Other specific geological places of interest include the State Circle cutting and the Deakin anticline.

The oldest rocks in the ACT date from the Ordovician around 480 million years ago. During this period the region along with most of Eastern Australia was part of the ocean floor; formations from this period include the Black Mountain Sandstone formation and the Pittman Formation consisting largely of quartz-rich sandstone, siltstone and shale. These formations became exposed when the ocean floor was raised by a major volcanic activity in the Devonian forming much of the east coast of Australia.

Demographics

ABS-3101.0-AustralianDemographicStatistics-EstimatedResidentPopulationStatesTerritories-EstimatedResidentPopulation-Persons-AustralianCapitalTerritory-A2060850F
Estimated resident population since 1981
See also: Demographics of Australia

In the 2011 census the population of the ACT was 357,222 of whom most lived in Canberra. The ACT median weekly income for people aged over 15 was in the range $600–$699 while that for the population living outside Canberra was at the national average of $400–$499. The average level of degree qualification in the ACT is higher than the national average. Within the ACT 4.5% of the population have a postgraduate degree compared to 1.8% across the whole of Australia.

Urban structure

BikepathCanberra
Bikepath to Weston Creek
Inner-canberra 01MJC
Inner Canberra demonstrates some aspects of the Griffin plan, in particular the Parliamentary Triangle
Canberra SPOT 1088
The Canberra metropolitan area seen from Spot Satellite

Canberra is a planned city that was originally designed by Walter Burley Griffin, a major 20th century American architect. Major roads follow a wheel-and-spoke pattern rather than a grid. The city centre is laid out on two perpendicular axes: a water axis stretching along Lake Burley Griffin, and a ceremonial land axis stretching from Parliament House on Capital Hill north-eastward along Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie.

The area known as the Parliamentary Triangle is formed by three of Burley Griffin's axes, stretching from Capital Hill along Commonwealth Avenue to the Civic Centre around City Hill, along Constitution Avenue to the Defence precinct on Russell Hill, and along Kings Avenue back to Capital Hill.

The larger scheme of Canberra's layout is based on the three peaks surrounding the city, Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain, and Red Hill. The main symmetrical axis of the city is along Anzac Parade and roughly on the line between Mount Ainslie and Bimberi Peak. Bimberi Peak being the highest mountain in the ACT approximately 52 km (32 mi) south west of Canberra . The precise alignment of Anzac parade is between Mount Ainslie and Capital Hill (formally Kurrajong Hill).

The Griffins assigned spiritual values to Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain, and Red Hill and originally planned to cover each of these in flowers. That way each hill would be covered with a single, primary color which represented its spiritual value. This part of their plan never came to fruition. In fact, WWI interrupted the construction and some conflicts after the war made it a difficult process for the Griffins. Nevertheless, Canberra stands as an exemplary city design and is located halfway between the ski slopes and the beach. It enjoys a natural cooling from geophysical factors.

The urban areas of Canberra are organised into a hierarchy of districts, town centres, group centres, local suburbs as well as other industrial areas and villages. There are seven districts (with an eighth currently under construction), each of which is divided into smaller suburbs, and most of which have a town centre which is the focus of commercial and social activities. The districts were settled in the following chronological order:

  • North Canberra, mostly settled in the 1920s and '30s, with expansion up to the 1960s, now 14 suburbs
  • South Canberra, settled from the 1920s to '60s, 13 suburbs
  • Woden Valley, first settled in 1963, 12 suburbs
  • Belconnen, first settled in 1967, 25 suburbs
  • Weston Creek, settled in 1969, 8 suburbs
  • Tuggeranong, settled in 1974, 19 suburbs
  • Gungahlin, settled in the early 1990s, 18 suburbs although only 15 are developed or under development
  • Molonglo Valley, first suburbs currently under construction

The North and South Canberra districts are substantially based on Walter Burley Griffin's designs. In 1967 the then National Capital Development Commission adopted the "Y Plan" which laid out future urban development in Canberra around a series of central shopping and commercial area known as the 'town centres' linked by freeways, the layout of which roughly resembled the shape of the letter Y, with Tuggeranong at the base of the Y and Belconnen and Gungahlin located at the ends of the arms of the Y.

Development in Canberra has been closely regulated by government, both through the town planning process, but also through the use of crown lease terms that have tightly limited the use of parcels of land. All land in the ACT is held on 99 year leases from the national government, although most leases are now administered by the Territory government.

Most suburbs have their own local shops, and are located close to a larger shopping centre serving a group of suburbs. Community facilities and schools are often also located near local shops or group shopping centres. Many of Canberra's suburbs are named after former Prime Ministers, famous Australians, early settlers, or use Aboriginal words for their title.

Street names typically follow a particular theme; for example, the streets of Duffy are named after Australian dams and reservoirs, the streets of Dunlop are named after Australian inventions, inventors and artists and the streets of Page are named after biologists and naturalists. Most diplomatic missions are located in the suburbs of Yarralumla, Deakin and O'Malley. There are three light industrial areas: the suburbs of Fyshwick, Mitchell and Hume.

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