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Fact File - South Australia
Capital City: Adelaide.

Area: 983,480 square km.

Proportion of Australia: 12.8%.

Time Zone: 9.5 hours ahead of GMT.

Climate: Warm temperate in south-east with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. To the west and inland is semi-arid and desert.

Highest Point: Mount Woodroffe (1,435 m).
South Australia has boundaries with other States on the west, north and east and on the south is flanked by the Southern Ocean. It has a total area of 984,377 km2, representing one eighth of the Australian continent. More than 50 per cent is pastoral land, with 6.5 per cent of the State designated as national parks and wildlife reserves. Most of the population lives in the southern coastal zones below the 32nd parallel.

Landscape: South Australia is a land of generally low relief with the inland area largely covered by plains, sand and gibber deserts. The coastline has a south-easterly north-westerly trend, interrupted by two major indentations, Spencer Gulf between Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, and Gulf St Vincent between Yorke Peninsula and the Fleurieu Peninsula. To the south of Gulf St Vincent is Kangaroo Island, about 480 km in circumference. It is the largest of the 100 or so islands on the South Australian coastline.

The most important mountains are the Mt Lofty-Flinders Ranges system, which extends north about 800 km from Cape Jervis to the northern end of Lake Torrens. In the south, the Mt Lofty Ranges are of comparatively low altitude, the highest peak being Mt Lofty at 727 m. To the north, the Flinders Ranges are of greater height, with St Mary’s Peak the highest point at 1,166 m. The Flinders Ranges contain unusual basins, of which Wilpena Pound is the best known.

The River Murray, which drains about one seventh of Australia, enters the sea in South Australia and is the state’s only major river. For 216 km to Overland Corner, the river occupies a wide valley, then passes through a narrow, steep-sided valley to Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert at its heavily silted mouth.

Surrounding the northern Flinders Ranges is a series of vast lakes which fill only after heavy rain, normally appearing as shallow depressions with salt or clay encrusted surfaces. The largest of these, Lake Eyre, is 15 m below sea level and is fed by intermittent rivers flowing from the north-east, creating one of the largest areas of internal drainage in the world. Lakes Gardiner, Frome and Torrens are to the south of Lake Eyre.

ClimateSouth Australian enjoys hot dry summers with relatively mild nights and cool winters, with most rainfall occurring during May to August. Adelaide’s average daily maximum temperature in January is 29°C, and in July 15°C. South Australia is the driest of the Australian States and Territories. Its average annual rainfall is 528 mm, but just over 80 per cent of the State receives an average of less than 250 mm of rain a year.

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

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