An unforgiving terrain and dearth of navigable rivers have encouraged Australia's small population to cluster in urban areas, such as Sydney, the country's most populous city.
At its simplest, Australia is a continent that is also a country, a territory at once expansive and isolated. Open sea surrounds it on three sides, while vast tracts of desolate wilderness separate its habitable zones. Relative to its immense territory, moreover, Australia's population is disproportionately small. Its remoteness has proved a unique advantage for land-intensive industries such as agriculture. But overcoming the "tyranny of distance," as Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey famously put it, is a perennial challenge for the country....
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