(abbreviated as SA
) is a state
in the southern central part of Australia
. It covers some of the most arid
parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, and fifth largest by population. It has a total of 1.77 million people,
and its population is the second most highly centralised in Australia, after Western Australia
, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide
, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are relatively small; Mount Gambier
, the second largest centre, has a population of 28,684.
South Australia shares borders with all of the other mainland states, as well as the Northern Territory
; it is bordered to the west by Western Australia
, to the north by the Northern Territory, to the north-east by Queensland
, to the east by New South Wales
, to the south-east by Victoria
, and to the south by the Great Australian Bight
The state comprises less than 8 percent of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the six states and two territories. The majority of its people reside in greater Metropolitan Adelaide. Most of the remainder are settled in fertile areas along the south-eastern coast and River Murray
. The state's colonial origins are unique in Australia as a freely settled, planned British province
rather than as a convict
settlement. Colonial government commenced on 28 December 1836, when the members of the council were sworn in near the Old Gum Tree
As with the rest of the continent, the region has a long history of human occupation
by numerous tribes and languages. The South Australian Company
established a temporary settlement at Kingscote
, Kangaroo Island
, on 26 July 1836, five months before Adelaide was founded.
The guiding principle behind settlement was that of systematic colonisation
, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefield
that was later employed by the New Zealand Company
The goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance. Although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, it is known for its fine wine and numerous cultural festivals. The state's economy is dominated by the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries.
European settlers with Aborigines, 1850
Evidence of human activity in South Australia dates back as far as 20,000 years, with flint
mining activity and rock art in the Koonalda Cave
on the Nullarbor Plain
. In addition wooden spears and tools were made in an area now covered in peat bog
in the South East. Kangaroo Island
was inhabited long before the island was cut off by rising sea levels
The first recorded European sighting of the South Australian coast was in 1627 when the Dutch ship the Gulden Zeepaert
, captained by François Thijssen
, examined and mapped a section of the coastline as far east as the Nuyts Archipelago
. Thijssen named the whole of the country eastward of the Leeuwin "Nuyts Land", after a distinguished passenger on board; the Hon. Pieter Nuyts, one of the Councillors of India.
The coastline of South Australia was first mapped by Matthew Flinders
and Nicolas Baudin
in 1802, excepting the inlet later named the Port Adelaide River
which was first discovered in 1831 by Captain Collet Barker
and later accurately charted in 1836–37 by Colonel William Light
, leader of the South Australian Colonization Commissioners' 'First Expedition' and first Surveyor-General of South Australia.
The land which now forms the state of South Australia was claimed for Britain in 1788 as part of the colony of New South Wales. Although the new colony included almost two-thirds of the continent, early settlements were all on the eastern coast and only a few intrepid explorers ventured this far west. It took more than forty years before any serious proposal to establish settlements in the south-western portion of New South Wales were put forward.
On 15 August 1834, the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act 1834
), which empowered His Majesty to erect and establish a province or provinces in southern Australia. The act stated that the land between 132° and 141° east longitude and from 26° south latitude to the southern ocean would be allotted to the colony, and it would be convict-free.
In contrast to the rest of Australia, terra nullius
did not apply to the new province. The Letters Patent
which used the enabling provisions of the South Australia Act 1834 to fix the boundaries of the Province of South Australia, provided that "nothing in those our Letters Patent shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation and enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives."
Although the patent guaranteed land rights under force of law for the indigenous inhabitants, it was ignored by the South Australian Company authorities and squatters.
Despite strong reference to the rights of the native population in the initial proclamation by the Governor, there were many conflicts and deaths in the Australian Frontier Wars
in South Australia.
, who mapped the coastline of South Australia, along with Matthew Flinders
Survey was required before settlement of the province, and the Colonization Commissioners for South Australia appointed William Light as the leader of its 'First Expedition', tasked with examining 1500 miles of the South Australian coastline and selecting the best site for the capital, and with then planning and surveying the site of the city into one-acre Town Sections and its surrounds into 134-acre Country Sections.
Eager to commence the establishment of their whale and seal fisheries, the South Australian Company sought, and obtained, the Commissioners' permission to send Company ships to South Australia, in advance of the surveys and ahead of the Commissioners' colonists.
The company's settlement of seven vessels and 636 people was temporarily made at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, until the official site of the capital was selected by William Light, where the City of Adelaide is currently located. The first immigrants
arrived at Holdfast Bay
(near the present day Glenelg
) in November 1836.
The commencement of colonial government was proclaimed on 28 December 1836, now known as Proclamation Day
South Australia is the only Australian state to have never received British convicts. Another free settlement, Swan River colony
was established in 1829 but Western Australia
later sought convict labour, and in 1849 Western Australia was formally constituted as a penal colony. Although South Australia was constituted such that convicts could never be transported to the Province, some emancipated or escaped convicts or expirees made their own way there, both prior to 1836, or later, and may have constituted 1–2% of the early population.
The plan for the province was that it would be an experiment in reform, addressing the problems perceived in British society. There was to be religious freedom and no established religion. Sales of land to colonists created an Emigration Fund to pay the costs of transferring a poor young labouring population to South Australia. In early 1838 the colonists became concerned after it was reported that convicts who had escaped from the eastern states may make their way to South Australia. The South Australia Police
was formed in April 1838 to protect the community and enforce government regulations. Their principal role was to run the first temporary gaol, a two-room hut.
The current flag of South Australia
was adopted on 13 January 1904, and is a British blue ensign defaced
with the state badge. The badge is described as a piping shrike
with wings outstretched on a yellow disc. The state badge is believed to have been designed by Robert Craig of Adelaide's School of Design
Satellite image of eastern South Australia. Note the dry lakes (white patches) in the north.
South Australian boundaries
In 1863, that part of New South Wales to the north of South Australia was annexed to South Australia, by letters patent, as the "Northern Territory of South Australia", which became shortened to the Northern Territory (6 July 1863
The Northern Territory was handed to the federal government in 1911 and became a separate territory.
According to Australian maps, South Australia's south coast is flanked by the Southern Ocean
, but official international consensus defines the Southern Ocean as extending north from the pole only to 60°S or 55°S, at least 17 degrees of latitude further south than the most southern point of South Australia. Thus the south coast is officially adjacent to the south-most portion of the Indian Ocean. See Southern Ocean: Existence and definitions
Climate types in South Australia
The southern part of the state has a Mediterranean climate
, while the rest of the state has either an arid
or semi-arid climate
South Australia's main temperature range is 29 °C (84 °F) in January and 15 °C (59 °F) in July. The highest maximum temperature was recorded as 50.7 °C (123.3 °F) at Oodnadatta
on 2 January 1960, which is also the highest official temperature recorded in Australia. The lowest minimum temperature was −8.2 °C (17.2 °F) at Yongala
on 20 July 1976.
South Australia's average annual employment for 2009–10 was 800,600 persons, 18% higher than for 2000–01.
For the corresponding period, national average annual employment rose by 22%.
South Australia's largest employment sector is health care and social assistance,
surpassing manufacturing in SA as the largest employer since 2006–07.
In 2009–10, manufacturing in SA had average annual employment of 83,700 persons compared with 103,300 for health care and social assistance.
Health care and social assistance represented nearly 13% of the state average annual employment.
The retail trade is the second largest employer in SA (2009–10), with 91,900 jobs, and 12 per cent of the state workforce.
The manufacturing industry plays an important role in South Australia's economy, generating 11.7%
of the state's gross state product
(GSP) and playing a large part in exports. The manufacturing industry consists of automotive (44% of total Australian production, 2006) and component manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, defence technology (2.1% of GSP, 2002–03) and electronic systems (3.0% of GSP in 2006). South Australia's economy relies on exports more than any other state in Australia.
Wheat fields at Nuriootpa
. Agriculture is a large industry for the state.
South Australia's credit rating
was upgraded to AAA by Standard & Poor's
Rating Agency in September 2004 and to AAA by Moody's Rating Agency November 2004, the highest credit ratings achievable by any company or sovereign. The State had previously lost these ratings in the State Bank collapse. However, in 2012 Standard & Poor's downgraded the state's credit rating to AA+ due to declining revenues, new spending initiatives and a weaker than expected budgetary outlook.
South Australia's Gross State Product was A$48.9 billion starting 2004, making it A$32,996 per capita. Exports for 2006 were valued at $9.0bn with imports at $6.2bn. Private Residential Building Approvals experienced 80% growth over the year of 2006.
South Australia's economy includes the following major industries: meat and meat preparations, wheat, wine, wool and sheepskins, machinery, metal and metal manufactures, fish and crustaceans, road vehicles and parts, and petroleum products. Other industries, such as education and defence technology, are of growing importance.[when?]
South Australia receives the least amount of federal funding for its local road network of all states on a per capita and a per kilometre basis.
In 2013, South Australia was named by Commsec Securities
as the second lowest performing economy in Australia.
While some sources have pointed at weak retail spending and capital investment, others have attributed poor performance to declines in public spending.
South Australia has the lead over other Australian states for its commercialisation and commitment to renewable energy
. It is now the leading producer of wind power
Renewable energy is a growing source of electricity in South Australia, and there is potential for growth from this particular industry of the state's economy. The Hornsdale Power Reserve
is a bank of grid-connected batteries adjacent to the Hornsdale Wind Farm
in South Australia's Mid-North region. At the time of construction in late 2017, it was billed as the largest lithium-ion battery in the world.
The Olympic Dam
mine near Roxby Downs
in northern South Australia is the largest deposit of uranium
in the world, possessing more than a third of the world's low-cost recoverable reserves and 70% of Australia's. The mine, owned and operated by BHP Billiton
, presently accounts for 9% of global uranium production.
The Olympic Dam mine is also the world's fourth-largest remaining copper deposit, and the world's fifth largest gold deposit.
There was a proposal to vastly expand the operations of the mine, making it the largest open-cut mine in the world,
but in 2012 the BHP Billiton board decided not to go ahead with it at that time due to then lower commodity prices.
held in right of South Australia is managed under the Crown Land Management Act 2009.
Initially, the Governor of South Australia
held almost total power, derived from the letters patent of the imperial government to create the colony. He was accountable only to the British Colonial Office
, and thus democracy did not exist in the colony. A new body was created to advise the governor on the administration of South Australia in 1843 called the Legislative Council.
It consisted of three representatives of the British Government and four colonists appointed by the governor. The governor retained total executive power.
In 1851, the Imperial Parliament enacted the Australian Colonies Government Act
, which allowed for the election of representatives to each of the colonial legislatures and the drafting of a constitution to properly create representative and responsible government in South Australia. Later that year, propertied male colonists were allowed to vote for 16 members on a new 24 seat Legislative Council. Eight members continued to be appointed by the governor.
Old Parliament House in 1872
The main responsibility of this body was to draft a constitution for South Australia. The body drafted the most democratic constitution ever seen in the British Empire and provided for universal manhood suffrage
It created the bicameral Parliament of South Australia
. For the first time in the colony, the executive was elected by the people, and the colony used the Westminster system
, where the government is the party or coalition that exerts a majority in the House of Assembly. The Legislative Council remained a predominantly conservative chamber elected by property owners.
Women's suffrage in Australia
took a leap forward – enacted in 1895 and taking effect from the 1896 colonial election
, South Australia was the first in Australia and only the second in the world after New Zealand
to allow women to vote, and the first in the world to allow women to stand for election.
In 1897 Catherine Helen Spence
was the first woman in Australia to be a candidate for political office when she was nominated to be one of South Australia's delegates to the conventions that drafted the constitution. South Australia became an original state of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901.
Although the lower house had universal suffrage, the upper house, the Legislative Council, remained the exclusive domain of property owners until the Labor
government of Don Dunstan
managed to achieve reform of the chamber in 1973. Property qualifications were removed and the Council became a body elected via proportional representation
by a single state-wide electorate.
Since the following 1975 South Australian state election
, no one party has had control of the state's upper house with the balance of power controlled by a variety of minor parties and independents.
South Australia is divided into 74 local government areas
. Local councils are responsible for functions delegated by the South Australian parliament, such as road infrastructure and waste management. Council revenue comes mostly from property taxes and government grants.
Estimated resident population since 1981
is the largest metropolitan area in the state.
As at March 2018 the population of South Australia was 1,733,500.
A majority of the state's population lives within Greater Adelaide
's metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 1,333,927 in June 2017.
Other significant population centres include Mount Gambier
(29,505), Victor Harbor
(21,976), Murray Bridge
(18,452), Port Lincoln
(16,281), Port Pirie
and Port Augusta
Ancestry and immigration
At the 2016 census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:[N 2]
28.9% of the population was born overseas at the 2016 census. The five largest groups of overseas-born were from England
(5.8%), India (1.6%), China (1.5%), Italy (1.1%) and Vietnam
At the 2016 census, 78.2% of the population spoke only English
at home. The other languages most commonly spoken at home were Italian (1.7%), Standard Mandarin
(1.7%), Greek (1.4%) Vietnamese (1.1%), and Cantonese
Primary and secondary
On 1 January 2009, the school leaving age was raised to 17 (having previously been 15 and then 16).
Education is compulsory for all children until age 17, unless they are working or undergoing other training. The majority of students stay on to complete their South Australian Certificate of Education
(SACE). School education is the responsibility of the South Australian government, but the public and private education systems are funded jointly by it and the Commonwealth Government
The South Australian Government provides, to schools on a per student basis, 89 percent of the total Government funding while the Commonwealth contributes 11 percent. Since the early 1970s it has been an ongoing controversy
that 68 percent of Commonwealth funding (increasing to 75% by 2008) goes to private schools that are attended by 32% of the states students.
Private schools often refute this by saying that they receive less State Government funding than public schools, and in 2004 the main private school funding came from the Australian government, not the state government.
On 14 June 2013, South Australia became the third Australian state to sign up to the Australian Federal Government's Gonski Reform Program
. This will see funding for primary and secondary education to South Australia increased by $1.1 billion before 2019.
Tertiary vocational education is provided by a range of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) which are regulated at Commonwealth level. The range of RTOs delivering education include public, private and 'enterprise' providers i.e. employing organisations who run an RTO for their own employees or members.
Major highways in South Australia
Historical transport in South Australia
After settlement, the major form of transport in South Australia was ocean transport. Limited land transport was provided by horses and bullocks. In the mid 19th century, the state began to develop a widespread rail network, although a coastal shipping network continued until the post war period.
Roads began to improve with the introduction of motor transport. By the late 19th century, road transport dominated internal transport in South Australia.
South Australia has four interstate rail connections, to Perth
via the Nullarbor Plain, to Darwin
through the centre of the continent, to New South Wales through Broken Hill
, and to Melbourne
–which is the closest capital city to Adelaide.
Rail transport is important for many mines in the north of the state.
The capital Adelaide has a commuter rail network made of electric and diesel electric powered multiple units, with 6 lines between them.
South Australia has extensive road networks linking towns and other states. Roads are also the most common form of transport within the major metropolitan areas with car transport predominating. Public transport in Adelaide
is mostly provided by buses and trams with regular services throughout the day.
provides regular flights to other capitals, major South Australian towns and many international locations. The airport also has daily flights to several Asian hub airports. Adelaide Metro
buses J1 and J1X connect to the city (approx. 30 minutes travel time). Standard fares apply and tickets may be purchased from the driver. Maximum charge (September 2016) for Metroticket is $5.30; off-peak and seniors discounts may apply.
The River Murray
was formerly an important trade route for South Australia, with paddle steamers
linking inland areas and the ocean at Goolwa.
South Australia has a container port at Port Adelaide
. There are also numerous important ports along the coast for minerals and grains.
The passenger terminal at Port Adelaide periodically sees cruise liners.
South Australia has been known as "the Festival State" for many years, for its abundance of arts and gastronomic
While much of the arts scene is concentrated in Adelaide, the state government has supported regional arts actively since the 1990s. One of the manifestations of this was the creation of Country Arts SA
, created in 1992.
did much to further the arts in South Australia during her term as Arts Minister from 1993 to 2002, and after Mike Rann
assumed government in 2002, he created a strategic plan in 2004 (updated 2007) which included furthering and promoting the arts in South Australia under the topic heading "Objective 4: Fostering Creativity and Innovation".
In September 2019, with the arts portfolio now subsumed within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet
(DPC) after the election of Steven Marshall
as Premier, and the 2004 strategic plan having been deleted from the website in 2018,
the "Arts and Culture Plan, South Australia 2019–2024
" was created by the Department.
Marshall said when launching the plan: “The arts sector in South Australia is already very strong but it’s been operating without a plan for 20 years”.
However the plan does not signal any new government support, even after the government's A$31.9 million cuts to arts funding when Arts South Australia
was absorbed into DPC in 2018. Specific propoals within the plan include an “Adelaide in 100 Objects” walking tour, a new shared ticketing system for small to medium arts bodies, a five-year-plan to revitalise regional art centres, creation of an arts-focussed high school, and a new venue for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Australian rules football
An AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows
Australian rules football
is the most popular spectator sport in South Australia, with South Australians having the highest attendance rate in Australia.
The South Australian National Football League
(SANFL), which was the premier league in the state before the advent of the Australian Football League, is a popular local league comprising ten teams: Sturt, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, West Adelaide, South Adelaide, North Adelaide, Norwood, Woodville/West Torrens, Glenelg and Central District.
The South Australian Amateur Football League
comprises 68 member clubs playing over 110 matches per week across ten senior divisions and three junior divisions. The SAAFL is one of Australia's largest and strongest Australian rules football associations.
The club was founded in 2003 and are the 2015–16 season
champions of the A-League
. The club was also premier in the inaugural 2005–06 A-League season, finishing 7 points clear of the rest of the competition, before finishing 3rd in the finals. Adelaide United was also a Grand Finalist in the 2006–07 and 2008–09 seasons. Adelaide is the only A-League club to have progressed past the group stages of the Asian Champions League
on more than one occasion.
Mount Gambier also has a national basketball team – the Mount Gambier Pioneers. The Pioneers play at the Icehouse (Mount Gambier Basketball Stadium) which seats over 1,000 people and is also home to the Mount Gambier Basketball Association. The Pioneers won the South Conference in 2003 and the Final in 2003; this team was rated second in the top five teams to have ever played in the league. In 2012, the club entered its 25th season, with a roster of 10 senior players (two imports) and three development squad players.
Mallala Motor Sport Park
, a permanent circuit located near the town of Mallala
, 58 km north of Adelaide, caters for both state and national level motor sport throughout the year.
Sixty-three percent of South Australian children took part in organised sports in 2002–2003.
The ATP Adelaide
was a tennis tournament held from 1972 to 2008 that then moved to Brisbane and was replaced with The World Tennis Challenge a Professional Exhibition Tournament that is part of the Australian Open Series. Also, the Royal Adelaide Golf Club
has hosted nine editions of the Australian Open
, with the most recent being in 1998.
South Australian cities, towns, settlements and road network
Crime statistics for all categories of offence in the state are provided on the SAPOL website, in the form of rolling 12-month totals.
Crime statistics from the 2017–18 national ABS
Crime Victimisation Survey show that between the years 2008–09 and 2017–18, the rate of victimisation in South Australia declined for assault and most household crime types.
In 2013 Adelaide
was ranked the safest capital city in Australia.
Food and drink
- ^ In accordance with the Australian Bureau of Statistics source, England, Scotland, China] and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are listed separately
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