Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. The name Australia is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning of the South. Legends of an "unknown land of the south" date back to the Roman times and were commonplace in mediaeval geography, but they were not based on any actual knowledge of the continent.
The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast and extends for over 2,000 kilometres. By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid.