The term ‘Down Under’ refers to Australia but sometimes the term is also used with reference to New Zealand. The term is often used by outsiders, but not Australians. Officially, Australia is known as the Commonwealth of Australia. The capital of the country is Canberra while the largest city is Sydney. It is a monarchy led by Queen Elizabeth II. The Governor General is Sir Peter Cosgrove. Australia’s population in 2018 is estimated to be about 24 million.
Why The Name “Down Under?”
The nickname ‘Down Under’ came as a result of the European explorers who were looking for a land located below the continent of Asia. One of the famous explorers at the time was Matthew Flinders. He was part of the team that coined the name “Down Under” with reference to Australia. At the time, nothing much was known about this unknown land. When it was found, the explorers named it ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ meaning the “unkown southern land.” Australia wholly lies in the Southern Hemisphere of the global map- within the Antarctica continent. Its location is truly below many countries. More specifically, Australia is located below the western countries and the Asian continent.
How Did This Unknown Land Find Itself “Down Under?’
Over 200 million years ago, Australia was not in the position it is now. It was part of a continent that no longer exists called the Gondwana Supercontinent. This continent was made up of all the continents as known by us today. However, about 180 million years ago, the continent began splitting apart. The first continents to break away were Africa and South America. The last ones to break off were Antarctica and Australia. It is out of this split that the country “Down Under” came forth.
It is believed that Australia is still on the move. The movement is as a result of the bedrock fact. Every year the continent drifts towards the equator by 70 mm. The rate of movement is equivalent to that of the growth of the human hair or fingernails.
Uses Of The Term “Down Under”
Besides being the country’s nick name, the term “down under” has been used in different contexts. First, the Men at Work music group composed a song “Down Under” in praise of the Australian nation as a sign of patriotism. Several Australians have also been nicknamed “Down Under.” This includes the famous boxing champion Kostya Tszyu who is called ‘The Thunder from Down Under.'
The Uniqueness Of The Land “Down Under”
The presence of the oceans surrounding Australia leads to circulation of oceanic winds. As a result, the country has humid and dry temperatures. The country has many unique flora and fauna, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world. In fact, 80% of all the fauna and flora are unique to Australia only. The country is famously known for kangaroos. 91% of the land in Australia is covered by vegetation.
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