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5)Countries of Commonwealth The Commonwealth, also called the Commonwealth of Nations is an organization of 53 countries which used to be British collonies in the past. Today, the British Queen, Elisabeth II., is an official head of these states but most of the members have their own heads of state which represent the Queen there. All of these countries use English as their official language and each of them is influenced by the British culture from the collonial times. And now I’d like to tell something about some of the Commonwealth countries. Canada is a country occupying most of the northern part of North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward to the Arctic Ocean. It’s the world’s second largest country and shares borders with the United States in the south and north-west. Canada is famous for its varied and beautiful countryside, especially near the Great Lakes in the south-east and the Slave and Bear Lakes in the north-west. Visitors to Canada want see Niagara Falls which are situated between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Canada also has high mountain ranges, such as the Rocky Mountains and the Mackenzie Mountains. The climate is mostly continental in Canada, with warm summers and cold winters. But in the north it is arctic: winter temperatures fall to minus 50̊C (degree Celsius). The Vikings discovered Canada more than a thousand years ago, but it was rediscovered by the French only in the 15th century. The first settlers from France came to the eastern coast and settled along the Saint Lawrence River. The famous French colonizer was Jacques Cartier. The French were followed by the British who captured most of Canada from them in the wars of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. Now, it’s a federation composed of 10 provinces and 3 territories and it’s a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The head of the state is the Queen Elizabeth II. who is represented by the governor general there. Canada is a bilingual country, the official languages are English and French, which is spoken mostly in the province of Quebec. The population of Canada counts over 34 million people. The capital is Ottawa and the other important cities are for example Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto or Edmonton. For the people in Canada, the sport is a very popular leisure time activity. Canadian national winter sport is an ice-hockey and in the summer it’s a lacrosse. The ice-hockey is the most popular sport in the country, almost 2 million people play hockey and six of the Canadian teams are in the NHL. Other favourite sports are Canadian football and curling. And the last winter Olympic games were held in Vancouver in 2010. The second country, Australia, is an island and also the smallest and the driest continent in the world. It is situated between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans so the climate there is influenced by the ocean currents. The terrain is quite varied, with tropic and subtropic forests in the north and east and deserts in the central Australia. There are two great deserts in Australia: the Great Sandy Desert and the Great Victoria Desert. They are red, orange and brown, and strange rocks can be found there. Ayers Rock or the Uluru, the largest piece of rock in the world, is the most famous of them. It is 335 metres high. Australia has two big rivers, the Murray and the Darling, and three great lakes: Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens and Lake Gairdner. The highest mountain is Mount Kosciusko (2,228 m) in the Australian Alps. Australia has many different kinds of climate: the tropical in the north, continental in the interior and subtropical in the rest of the continent. The south-east coast has pleasantly warm summers and mild winters, the Australian Alps have snow for almost half the year. A long line of mountains in the east, known as the Great Dividing Range, divides the wet coast of eastern Australia from the dry lands in the centre. The nature in Australia is very different from the other world, especially the fauna and flora. We can find there many species that live only in Australia, such as the kangaroos, wombats, dingos, koala bears, emus and many more. And the platypus is probably the world’s strangest animal. It has a bill and webbed feet like a duck and lays eggs like a hen, but it is a mammal suckling its young. One of the special natural sights is the Great Barrier Reef, the biggest coral reef in the world very popular for the scuba divers. Australia was firstly discovered by the Dutch in the 17th century. Later captain James Cook explored the coasts of the island and landed there in 1770. The settlement of Australia began in 1788 when the penal colony for convicts from Britain was established there. When the first white people from Europe came to Australia, about 300,000 Australian Aborigines were living there. They originally lived as hunters using boomerangs and other similiar weapons for hunting. They understood and loved their land. But the Europeans wanted it, and to get it they persecuted the Aborigines. Many of them died. Now there are about 200,000 Aborigines. They live in government reserves or missions, but also in some cities. Nowadays, Australia is a constitutional monarchy composed of 6 states and two territories. Each state has its own government and its own capital city. The head of whole the state is the Queen Elizabeth II represented by the governor general. The official language is English, known for the special Australian words and accent. In Australian English a lot of words are made by shortening everyday words: Oz – Australia, Aussie – Australian, footy – football or barbie – barbecue. Australian prefer short words. The population is over 21 million people and approximately 60% are concetrated in the eastern-coast cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and in Perth in the west. The capital city is Canberra. However, Sydney is the oldest, largest, the most beautiful and the most modern cit

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