The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the center of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions. It shares borders with Western Australia to the west, South Australia to the south, and Queensland to the east. To the north, the territory is bordered by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Despite its large area, over 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 sq mi) – making it the third largest Australian federal division – it is sparsely populated. With a population of 215,000, it is the least populous division in the country.
The history of the Northern Territory began over 40,000 years ago when Indigenous Australians settled the region. Makassan traders began trading with the indigenous people of the Northern Territory for trepang from at least the 18th century onwards, and possibly for 300 years prior to that, while the coast of the Territory was first seen by Europeans in the 17th century. The British were the first to attempt to settle the coastal regions of the Territory in the 19th century; however no attempt was successful until the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin in 1869. Today the economy is based on tourism, especially Kakadu National Park in the Top End and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia, and mining.
The capital city is Darwin. Perhaps unusually when compared with Australia's states, the population is not concentrated in coastal regions, but rather along the Stuart Highway. The other major settlements are Katherine, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy in the territory's north-east.
Residents of the Northern Territory are often known simply as 'Territorians'.
There are many very small settlements scattered across the Territory but the larger population centres are located on the single sealed road that links Darwin to southern Australia, the Stuart Highway, known to locals simply as "the track".
The Northern Territory is also home to two spectacular natural rock formations, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are sacred to the local Aboriginal peoples and which have become major tourist attractions.
In the northern part of the territory lies Kakadu National Park, which features breathtaking wetlands and native wildlife. To the north of that lies the Arafura Sea, and to the east lies Arnhem Land, whose regional centre is Maningrida on the Liverpool River delta. There is an extensive series of river systems in the Northern Territory these rivers include: Alligator River, Daly River, Finke River, McArthur River, Roper River, Todd River and Victoria River.
The Territory's symbols include the Sturt's Desert Rose (state flower), Red Kangaroo (state animal) and the Wedge-tailed Eagle (state bird).
Tourism is one of the major industries on the Northern Territory. Iconic destinations such as Uluru and Kakadu make the Northern Territory a popular destination for domestic and international travellers. Diverse landscapes, spectacular waterfalls, wide open spaces, aboriginal culture, wild and untamed wildlife, all create a unique opportunity for the visitor to immerse themselves in the natural wonder that the Northern Territory offers. Images of Uluru (Ayers Rock) are recognised around the world ensuring that Tourism in the Northern Territory will remain a vital component of its future. In 2005/06, 1.38 million people visited the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory has two distinctive climate zones. The northern end, including Darwin has a tropical climate with high humidity and two seasons, the wet (November to April) and dry season (May to October), and Central Australia has a desert climate.
Darwin has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from May to September (the southern hemisphere winter), during which nearly every day is warm and sunny, and afternoon humidity averages around 30%. There is very little rainfall between May and September. In the coolest months of June and July, the daily minimum temperature may dip as low as 14°C, but very rarely lower, and frost has never been recorded.
The wet season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March (the southern hemisphere summer), when thunderstorms are common and afternoon relative humidity averages over 70% during the wettest months. On average more than 1570 mm falls in the North. While Central Australia receives less than 250mm a year.
The central region is the desert centre of the country, which includes Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, and is semi-arid with little rain usually falling during the hottest months from October to March.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/