South Australia, a British colony in Australia, comprising all of the continent between the 129th and 138th meridians of E. longitude N of lat. 24° S., and between the 129th and 141st meridians S. of that latitude, bounded N. by the gulf of Carpentaria and the Indian ocean, E. by Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, S. by the S. Pacific ocean, and W. by Western Australia; area, according to latest estimates, about 900,000 sq. m.; pop. (exclusive of about 3,000 aborigines) in 1871, 185,626; in 1874 (estimated), 202,185. Capital, Adelaide. In the article Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory are treated as distinct; but the latter is now an integral part of South Australia, or rather a sub-colony, as it is governed directly by the executive of that colony and has no representation in its parliament. It embraces the larger and almost uninhabited half of the colony, N. of lat. 24°. Within the limits of South Australia are included Kangaroo island, about 100 m. long and 30 broad, on the S. coast, and Melville island, 1,800 sq. m., and several smaller islands, on the N. coast. - The S. coast, which forms the E. and a part of the 1ST. shore of the Great Australian bight, has a general N. W. and S. E. direction.
Its principal inlets are Encounter bay, St. Vincent gulf, in the mouth of which lies Kangaroo island, and Spencer gulf, which extends more than 200 m. inland. It has many good harbors, of which Port Lincoln on Spencer gulf is the best. The N. coast, as far as Cape Arnhem, forms the W. shore of the gulf of Carpentaria. Beyond that the chief inlets are Arnhem bay, Castlereagh bay, Mt. Morris bay, Port Essington, Van Diemen's gulf, Port Darwin, Anson bay, and Queen's channel. South Australia contains a great variety of soils and scenery, almost every kind of landscape being found within its limits. Much of it, particularly in the north, is sterile and uninviting, consisting largely of scrub and rock, but at least a third of its surface is agricultural and pastoral land, and another third wooded ranges suitable for pasturage. The scrub land is valuable only for its mineral wealth, some of the richest mines having been discovered in it. The principal chain of mountains is the Flinders range, which extends from Cape Jervis northward to the vicinity of Lake Blanche, about lat. 29°; its highest peak is Mt. Remarkable, 3,179 ft. The Gawler range, in the peninsula W. of Spencer gulf, has a height in its W. part of about 2,000 ft.
N. of this are the Warburton and Stuart ranges, and there are many others stretching across the continent to the N. coast. - The Murray river enters the colony about lat. 34° S., and after a course of about 250 m., all of which is navigable, flows into Lake Alexandrina, and thence into Encounter bay by a narrow opening called the Murray mouth. The Wakefield and Gawler rivers flow W. into the gulf of St. Vincent. From the Torrens, which loses itself in reed swamps, the city of Adelaide derives its supply of water. On the N. coast the principal rivers are the Liverpool, the East and the South Alligator, the Adelaide, the Daly, and the Victoria. The Roper, which flows into the gulf of Carpentaria, is navigable for large vessels for nearly 100 m. There are many lakes, particularly in the S. E. part, which is called the lake district. Lakes Eyre, Torrens, and Gairdner are large bodies of salt water, each more than 150 m. long. Lake Eyre is only 70 ft., above the sea, while Gairdner, which lies N. of the Gawler range, is 36G ft. high. Lake Alexandrina is about 30 m. long and 15 m. wide. From its E. side a narrow lagoon, called the Coorong, extends about 85 m. parallel to the coast, from which it is separated by a narrow strip of land. - South Australia is rich in mineral resources.
Iron ore abounds, but copper constitutes its chief wealth. The famous Burra-Burra mine, near Kooringa, about 100 m. N. by E. of Adelaide, was discovered in 1844 and opened in the same year. From 10,000 to 13,000 tons of ore are raised annually, yielding about 2,500 tons of pure copper. In 1860 the Wallaroo mines were opened near Kadina, on the shore of Spencer gulf, 91 m. N. W. of Adelaide. In 1861 the Moonta mines, about 12 m. distant, were discovered. They yield 25 per cent, of pure copper; in the first half of 1874 11,000 tons of ore were raised from them. In 1872 61 copper mines were worked, giving an aggregate annual yield of more than 150,000 tons. Gold has been discovered in several places, and 438 reefs were registered in 1870, giving an annual yield of 10,500 oz. Many small diamonds have been found near Echunga; and jasper, chalcedony, and opal abound. Silver, lead, and bismuth have also been found, and salt is abundant. - The climate of the inhabited part of the country is very fine, but that of the scrub land in the north is exceedingly hot and dry.
In the southeast the seasons are the wet and the dry; the latter begins about the end of August and continues till the end of March. In December and January the heat is very great, and when the wind blows from the north the thermometer often rises to 115°. These winds are accompanied by clouds of dust, but seldom last more than a few hours, when they shift to the southwest and south, and the temperature falls. The average temperature is 67°, and the lowest in the level country 44°. The average annual rainfall is about 21 inches. Between March and August heavy rain falls, and the country becomes covered with luxuriant verdure; but during the summer months the ground is completely parched and the grass withered. The settled parts of South Australia, however, are not subject to the long continued droughts which are sometimes so destructive in New South Wales. No epidemic diseases prevail, affections of the lungs are infrequent, and scrofulous complaints are rare; but diseases of the eyes are common in summer. - The forests contain much large timber, but wood for cabinet and other fine work is imported. There are many species of eucalypti and acacias, and the pandanus, cycas, and Adan-8onia or gouty stem tree, the fruit of the last of which is eaten by the natives.
In the northern parts three kinds of wild fig, a species of wild grape, and wild yams have been found. Native wheat and oats, rye grass, and rice grass also grow in the north. All the fruits common to temperate climates succeed remarkably well, and particularly the grape, many varieties of which are cultivated. Agriculture has made great advances of late, and the colony promises to become a large grain-producing country, enough wheat being grown in some years to supply the neighboring colonies and to ship many cargoes to England, where it brings high prices. The extent of land under cultivation in the year ending March 31, 1873, was 1,164,-846 acres, an increase of 120,190 acres over the preceding year. The number of acres in wheat in the same year was 759,811, and in the year ending in March, 1874, 784,784; the product in the last named year was 6,178,816 bushels. In 1873 there were 5,424 acres of vineyards, and 2,901 in orchards. The return of live stock in 1873 was: sheep, 4,900,687; cattle, 151,662; horses, 82,215; goats, 17,492; pigs, 98,436; poultry, 513,883. The kangaroo dog, a cross between the greyhound and the English bulldog, often exceeding 3 ft. in height, is valuable to the inhabitants of this as well as the other Australian colonies.
Much damage is sometimes done to the green crops by locusts.
For the indigenous fauna see Australia. - The government of South Australia consists of a governor appointed by the crown, an executive council, and two houses of legislature, one called the legislative council and the other the house of assembly. The legislative council is composed of 18 members, elected by general vote for twelve years, one third retiring every four years. The president is elected by the members. The governor has no power to dissolve the council. The house of assembly has now 46 members, who are elected for three years. This body is liable to dissolution by the executive. The revenue of the colony in 1873 was £972,813, and the expenditure £839,-152. The colonial debt on Dec. 31, 1873, was £2,174,900. - In 1871 there were 3,372 aborigines, who are of the same general type as those of other parts of Australia, but four different dialects are spoken by them within the limits of the colony, three of which are not intelligible to the natives of the country about the mouth of the Murray river. The tribes within the settled districts are inoffensive, and some of the boys are employed as herdsmen.
The leading religious denominations in 1871 were: Church of England, 50,849; Roman Catholics, 28,668; Wesleyans, 17,075; Lutherans, 15,412; Presbyterians, 13.371; Baptists, 8,731; Primitive Methodists, 8,207; Con-gregationalists, 7,969; Bible Christians, 7,758; and several others were represented. The aggregate number of churches and chapels in the colony in 1872 was 607, with seats for 119,087 persons. The educational system is under the control of a central board consisting of seven members. The total number of licensed schools at the close of 1872 was 307; the number of scholars on the rolls was 15,123. A university is about to be established at Adelaide. - The exports of South Australia consist of grain, flour, wool, tallow, bark, fruit, wine, spirits, hides, beef, copper ore, copper, lead, and gold; their value in 1873 was £4,285,191. The imports consist principally of manufactured goods and articles of luxury; they amounted in the same year to £3,829,831. The entrances in 1873 were 457 vessels of 190,036 tons, and the clearances 363 vessels of 160,414 tons.
In 1873 about 200 m. of railway had been completed, the principal line being the north line from Adelaide to Burra, about 100 m., with a branch line of 48 m. to Kapunda. A line connecting Narracoorte with Kingston is now constructing, and several others (one from Kadina to Port Wakefield, 32 m.) are authorized. There is telegraphic communication with the principal places in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, and by the great overland line with Port Darwin on the N. coast, which is connected with Java by a submarine cable. The aggregate length of the lines in 1873 was 1,718 m. - In 1835 a company, styled the "South Australian Colonization Association," obtained a grant from the British government of the great tract of land which forms the colony of South Australia, and their first settlement was formed in December, 1836. Their operations gave rise to speculation in the lands of the colony, both there and in England, town allotments which had been originally sold at £2 10s. an acre soon rising to £2,000 or £3,000, and country sections from £1 to £100 an acre. Building speculations equally extravagant were carried on, and laborers' wages rose to 15s. and £1 a day. In 1839 a reaction took place which brought about the ruin of the land owners and most of the small moneyed settlers.
Emigration turned to the other colonies, and South Australia became greatly depressed; but soon afterward the discovery of copper caused a reaction, and the colony prospered till 1851, when the discovery of gold in Victoria drew off thousands of its population and again retarded its growth. Since 1855 it has gradually recovered, and it is now once more prosperous.