The driest, flattest, and smallest continent, Australia is almost as big as the continental United States, but has a fraction of the inhabitants—six million people in 1925. Beyond the settled areas, three-quarters of the land remain relatively little known until after World War Two. Seen by those in Europe and America as one of the last great wildernesses, despite decades of exploration and incursion, it remained a place that guarded its secrets.

While the ancient and primordial character of the Australian inland lures many, it is the cities in the south and east that have become centers of population. Surprisingly modern and surprisingly British in character—it is not uncommon for foreign visitors to express astonishment when they disembark from their steamer in Sydney or Melbourne and find themselves in a great metropolis with all the modern refinements of London or New York. Ever present, though, are the modern blights afflicting cities worldwide: organized crime, overcrowding, civil unrest, and uncertainty.

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