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Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory
State flag (Full size) Coat of Arms (Full size)
Capital Canberra
— Land
— Marine
— Total

2 358 kmē
0 kmē
2 358 kmē
Population (2002)
322 200
Time zone UTC+10 (except during daylight saving time—UTC+11)
Highest point Bimberi Peak (1 912 m)
ISO 3166-2 code: AU-CT
Australian Capital Territory, chiefly the site of Canberra (population 320,000), Australia's capital city, is situated between the country's two largest and rival cities, Melbourne and Sydney. Apart from the city, there is a some agricultural land (sheep, dairy cattle, some vinyards and a very small area of crops), and a large area of national park, much of it mountainous and forested. The area and population is quite similar to the nation of Luxembourg but the pattern of settlement is very different.

When the constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia was being negotiated between the colonies, Melbourne and Sydney each demanded that they become the capital. As a compromise, it was agreed that the capital would initially be Melbourne, until a new capital city could be built. The final constitution therefore required that the new capital city would be located in territory taken from New South Wales, and be at least 100 statute miles from Sydney.

The present site was chosen in 1908, with additional territory on the coast at Jervis Bay allocated so the national capital could have a sea port. In 1911 an international competition was held, and Canberra was begun. The federal government officially moved there from Melbourne in 1926. At first most public service administration continued to be done in Melbourne, but the various departments were gradually moved to Canberra over the years.

The Australian Capital Territory is wholly surrounded by New South Wales. For administrative purposes, the Australian Capital Territory also incorporates the Jervis Bay Territory (being a naval base on the NSW coast near the town of Jervis Bay), and the uninhabited external territories.

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