Countries Closest to Australia
The continent of Australia shares marine territorial boundaries with its nearest neighbouring countries. The nearest of these countries include Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which are all island nations or territories in the South-East Asian and Asia-Pacific regions. Australia also shares a contested overland border in the Australian Antarctic Territory which adjoins territories claimed by several nations.
Indonesia is Australia's largest near neighbouring country and belongs to both the Asia-Pacific and South-East Asian regions. Australia's second and third largest neighbours, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, are referred to as belonging to the Oceania region. This region is divided into the three island groups of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The north-easterly islands are part of Melanesia, and the larger of these are called 'continental' islands as distinguished from the much smaller islands of Micronesia and Polynesia.
Australia's boundaries with its nearest Asia-Pacific neighbours are determined by Australia's '200 nautical mile' (371 kilometre) Exclusive Economic Marine Zone (EEMZ) or Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) which is the second largest Exclusive Economic Marine Zone in the world after the United States. With the inclusion of all of Australia's island territories it is the largest Fishing Zone. Australia has a legal claim to this continental shelf under the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) (1982). These territorial limits exceed 350 nautical miles (649 kilometres) with the inclusion of the Lord Howe Island territory.
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New Zealand is a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean and is situated southeast of the Australian continent across the Tasman Sea. The country contains two major islands (named the South and the North), which are the 12th and 14th largest in the world, as well as the much smaller island of Kermadec to the north, Tokelau to the north-east and Stewart Island in the far south. New Zealand is located in the mid-latitudes and extends for 1600 kilometres between 34 degrees and 47 degrees south latitude. Its area of 270 000 square kilometres is one-thirtieth the size of Australia's but its population of 3.5 million is nearly six times as dense as that of its larger neighbour. New Zealand was initially governed as a dependency of New South Wales before it separated as a colony in the nineteenth century. Its prime metropolis is Auckland which is located at the base of the Northland peninsula on an isthmus that comprises its narrowest neck of land. It has become New Zealand's largest city with urban sprawl that is expanding, particularly toward the south.
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Indonesia is situated to Australia's immediate north and shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, Brunei and Malaysia. Indonesia is the largest of Australia's near neighbours with 60% of its large population crowded into the island of Java and its national capital in Jakarta. It consists of an arc of 17 508 islands that stretch for roughly 5 120 kilometres and in which 6000 are inhabited. It is 2012 kilometres from north to south and spans three time zones. Its islands include Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi, as well as Borneo and western New Guinea. Other islands include Timor and Bali.
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Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is one of Australia's largest and most populous Asia-Pacific neighbours. Sharing a border with Indonesia, it is located to Australia's immediate north. It consists of the eastern half of the large island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago (whose largest islands are New Britain, New Ireland, and Manus), the northernmost Solomon Islands of Bougainville and Buka, and several smaller island groups east of New Guinea. Its capital is Port Moresby which is the largest urban metropolis south of Honolulu, north of Australia, and east of Indonesia. It was granted independence in 1975 from its former status as a colony of Australia.