Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef system in the world, extending 2,000 kilometers along the coast of Queensland in Northeastern Australia. It is the largest marine reservation areas in the world, covering 347,800 km2 . Comprised of the most diverse reef types, habitats, and environmental regimes, this is an area of enormous scientific, economic and cultural importance.
Not until 1975, however, did the Australian government define and protect the Great Barrier Marine Park. In 1981 this reef was added to the World Heritage Areas list, reaffirming its protected status.
The Great Barrier Reef contains at least 1500 species of fish, 350 types of hard coral and 5000 varieties of mollusc (e.g. shells). Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle live there and the marine park is home to the world’s most important, but threatened, dugong populations. Fifty four percent of the world’s species of mangroves are found in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, which also provides a home for over one third of the world’s soft coral and sea pen species.
The province of Queensland, along which the Great Barrier runs, has a population of about 3,600,000. The population is growing at an approximate rate of 1.9%, mainly due to national migration. The economic climate is generally stable, relying primarily on tourism to the reef. About 1.6 million tourists visit each year (although numbers have been consistently on the rise); some 31,000 people work in the tourism industry to support this annual influx.