Queensland borders the Torres Strait to the north, with Boigu Island off the coast of New Guinea representing the absolute northern extreme of its territory. The triangular Cape York Peninsula, which points toward New Guinea, is the northernmost part of the state’s mainland. West of the peninsula’s tip, northern Queensland is bordered by the Gulf of Carpentaria, while the Coral Sea, an arm of the Pacific Ocean, borders Queensland to the east. To the west, Queensland is bordered by the Northern Territory, at the 138°E longitude, and to the southwest by the northeastern corner of South Australia.
The state capital is Brisbane, a coastal city 60 miles by road north of the New South Wales border. The state is divided into several officially recognized regions. Other smaller geographical regions of note include the Atherton Tablelands, the Granite Belt, and the Channel Country in the far southwest.
Queensland has many areas of natural beauty, including the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, home to some of the state’s most popular beaches; the Bunya Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, with numerous lookouts, waterfalls and picnic areas; Carnarvon Gorge; Whitsunday Islands; and Hinchinbrook Island. The state contains six World Heritage-listed preservation areas: Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Riversleigh in the Gulf Country, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, Fraser Island, Great Barrier Reef, Lamington National Park and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
Queensland’s economy has enjoyed a boom in the tourism and mining industries over the past 20 years. A sizeable influx of interstate and overseas migrants, large amounts of federal government investment, increased mining of vast mineral deposits and an expanding aerospace sector have contributed to the state’s economic growth.
Between 1992 and 2002, the growth in the gross state product of Queensland outperformed that of all the other states and territories. In that period Queensland’s GDP grew 5.0% each year, while growth in Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose on average 3.9% each year. Queensland’s contribution to the Australian GDP increased by 10.4% in that period, one of only three states to do so.
Primary industries include: bananas, pineapples, peanuts, a wide variety of other tropical and temperate fruit and vegetables, grain crops, wineries, cattle raising, cotton, sugarcane, wool and a mining industry including bauxite, coal, silver, lead, zinc, gold and copper. Secondary industries are mostly further processing of the above-mentioned primary produce. For example, bauxite is shipped by sea from Weipa and converted to alumina at Gladstone. There is also copper refining and the refining of sugar cane to sugar at a number of mills along the eastern coastline. Major tertiary industries are the retail trade and tourism.
Tourism is Queensland’s leading tertiary industry with millions of interstate and overseas visitors flocking to the Sunshine State each year. The industry generates $8.8 billion annually, accounting for 4.5% of Queensland’s Gross State Product. It has an annual export of $4.0 billion annually. The sector directly employs about 5.7% of Queensland citizens.