South Australia shares borders with all of the other mainland states, and with 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 had been long occupied by Aboriginal peoples, who were organised into 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. The state has an increasingly significant finance sector as well.
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 his discovery "Pieter Nuyts Land", after the highest ranking individual on board.
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 (Foundation Act), which empowered His Majesty to erect and establish a province or provinces in southern Australia. The act stated that 802,511 square kilometres (309,851 sq mi) 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 of 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.
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 was the second Australian state to be settled by free colonists, the first being the free Swan River colony in Western Australia, however 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.
The terrain consists largely of arid and semi-arid rangelands, with several low mountain ranges. The most important (but not tallest) is the Mount Lofty-Flinders Ranges system, which extends north about 800 kilometres (500 mi) from Cape Jervis to the northern end of Lake Torrens. The highest point in the state is not in those ranges; Mount Woodroffe (1,435 metres (4,708 ft)) is in the Musgrave Ranges in the extreme northwest of the state. The south-western portion of the state consists of the sparsely inhabited Nullarbor Plain, fronted by the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Features of the coast include Spencer Gulf and the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas that surround it.
The principal industries and exports of South Australia are wheat, wine and wool. More than half of Australia's wines are produced in the South Australian wine regions which principally include: Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, the Riverland and the Adelaide Hills. See South Australian wine.
South Australia has boundaries with every other Australian mainland state and territory except the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory. The Western Australia border has a history involving the South Australian government astronomer, Dodwell, and the Western Australian Government Astronomer, Curlewis, marking the border on the ground in the 1920s.
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
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. Daily temperatures in parts of the state in January and February can be up to 48 °C (118 °F).
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.
State export earnings stood at A$10 billion per year and grew by 8.8% from 2002 to 2003. Production of South Australian food and drink (including agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, fisheries and manufacturing) is a $10 billion industry.
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.
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.
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.
Crown land held in right of South Australia is managed under the Crown Land Management Act 2009.
South Australia is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Australia as sovereign, and the Governor of South Australia as her representative. It is a state of the Commonwealth of Australia. The bicameral Parliament of South Australia consists of the lower house known as the House of Assembly and the upper house known as the Legislative Council. General elections are held every four years, the last being the 2014 election.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the 2016 census the population of South Australia was 1.7 million residents.
A majority of the state's population lives within Greater Adelaide's metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 1,262,940 in 2011 (77.1% of the state). Other significant population centres include Mount Gambier (28,313), Whyalla (22,489), Murray Bridge (17,152), Port Lincoln (15,682), Port Pirie (14,281), Port Augusta (14,196), and Victor Harbor (13,671).
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.
There are three public and four private universities in South Australia. The three public universities are the University of Adelaide (established 1874, third oldest in Australia), Flinders University (est. 1966) and the University of South Australia (est. 1991). The four private universities are Torrens University Australia (est. 2013), Carnegie Mellon University - Australia (est. 2006), University College London's School of Energy and Resources (Australia), and Cranfield University. All six have their main campus in the Adelaide metropolitan area: Adelaide and UniSA on North Terrace in the city; CMU, UCL and Cranfield are co-located on Victoria Square in the city, and Flinders at Bedford Park.
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.
The largest public provider of vocational education is TAFE South Australia which is made up of colleges throughout the state, many of these in rural areas, providing tertiary education to as many people as possible. In South Australia, TAFE is funded by the state government and run by the South Australian Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST). Each TAFE SA campus provides a range of courses with its own specialisation.
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 limited commuter rail transport.
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 with regular services throughout the day.
Adelaide Airport provides regular flights to other capitals, major South Australian towns, and most 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 $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.
Kangaroo Island is dependent on the Sea Link ferry Service between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw.
Australian rules football is the most popular spectator sport in South Australia, with South Australians having the highest attendance rate in Australia. The state also has the highest participation rate of people taking part in Australian rules football.
South Australia fields two teams in the Australian Football League national competition: the Adelaide Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club's. As of 2015 the two clubs are in the top five in terms of membership numbers, with both clubs' membership figures reaching over 60,000 in 2015. Both teams have used the Adelaide Oval as their home ground since 2014, having previously used Football Park (AAMI Stadium) as their home ground until 2013.
The South Australian National Football League, who owns Football Park, 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.
Cricket is the most popular summer sport in South Australia and attracts big crowds. South Australia has a cricket team, the South Australian Redbacks, who play at Adelaide Oval in the Adelaide Park Lands during the summer; they won their first title since 1996 in the summer of 2010–11. Many international matches have been played at the Adelaide Oval; it was one of the host cities of 2015 Cricket World Cup, and for many years it hosted the Australia Day One Day International. South Australia is also home to the Adelaide Strikers an Australian men's professional Twenty20 cricket team that competes in Australia's domestic Twenty20 cricket competition, the Big Bash League.
South Australia's Association Football (soccer) team in the A-League is Adelaide United F.C. The club's home ground is Hindmarsh Stadium (Coopers Stadium), but occasionally play games at the Adelaide Oval.
The club was founded in 2003 and are the season 2015/16 champions of the Hyundai 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, making it the most successful Australian club in the International competition. Until the Western Sydney Wanderers won the 2014 Asian Champions League in their maiden attempt.
Basketball also has a big following in South Australia, with the Adelaide 36ers playing out of an 8,070 seat stadium in Findon. The 36ers have won four championships in the last 20 years in the National Basketball League. The Titanium Security Arena, located in Findon, is the home of basketball in the state.
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 5 teams to have ever played in the league. In 2012, the club entered its 25th season, with a roster of 10 senior players (2 imports) and 3 development squad players.
Australia's premier motor sport series, the Supercars Championship, has visited South Australia each year since 1999. South Australia's Supercars event, the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, is staged on the Adelaide Street Circuit, a temporary track laid out through the streets and parklands to the east of the Adelaide city centre. Attendance for the 2010 event totalled 277,800. An earlier version of the Adelaide Street Circuit played host to the Australian Grand Prix, a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, each year from 1985 to 1995.
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.
The state has hosted the Tour Down Under cycle race since 1999.