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Fact File - New South Wales
Capital City: Sydney.

Area: 800,640 square km.

Proportion of Australia: 10.4%.

Time Zone: 10 hours ahead of GMT.

Climate: Warm temperate with no dry season in east. Semi-arid and desert inland.

Highest Point: Mount Kosciuszko (2,229 m).

New South Wales is in the south-east part of the Australian continent and is the most populous and heavily industrialised State in Australia, with a highly urbanised population.

Its capital is Sydney, Australia’s largest city and one of the world’s great seaports. It is also an important international finance centre. The total area of the State is 802,000 km2 or 10.4 per cent of Australia’s total area and includes Lord Howe, a small island in the Pacific Ocean.

Landscape: Natural features divide the State into four main zones extending from north to south:

  1. Seaboard and coastal lowlands with a 1,460 km coastline broken by few inlets of varying sizes.
  2. Tablelands formed by the Great Dividing Range and comprising an almost unbroken series of plateau varying in width from 50 km to 160 km and forming the main watershed where the coastal rivers and those which flow inland originate. The Snowy Mountains region has the highest peak on the continent, Mount Kosciusko, which is 2,228 m.
  3. Western slopes which is a fertile, undulating region with rich plains along rivers flowing inland and some rugged areas. Generally regular and adequate rainfall has led to extensive cultivation.
  4. Western plains comprising almost two-thirds of the State. The soil is fertile, but poor rainfall and limited river water and high temperatures seldom enable it to realise its agricultural or pastoral potential. There are two distinct groups of rivers - the short, fast-flowing coastal streams which drain about one-sixth of the state but carry more than two-thirds of its water; and the inland rivers, part of the Murray-Darling system. The main rivers are the Hawkesbury, Hunter, Macleay, Clarence, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Macquarie-Bogan, Namoi, Gwydir and Castlereagh.

Climate: New South Wales lies in the temperate zone and the climate is generally free from extremes of heat and cold. The greatest heat is usually experienced in the north-west; a shade temperature of more than 51°C has been recorded at Bourke. The coldest region is the Snowy Mountains, where winter frosts and snow are experienced over long periods. Rainfall varies widely over the state, gradually diminishing to an annual average of 180 mm in the far north-west.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, International Public Affairs Branch 1994

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