The Upside Down Under
Australia - the Land Down Under


Australia is known as 'the land Down Under' for its position in the southern hemisphere.

The discovery of Australia began when European explorers searched for a land under the continent of Asia. Before Australia was discovered, it was known as Terra Australis Incognita the unknown southern land. Despite the term's wide usage, it is rarely used by Australians themselves, many of whom regard it with some derision.

The term Down Under is a colloquialism which is variously construed to refer to Australia. The term comes from the fact that it is in the Southern Hemisphere, "below" many other countries on the globe from a Northern Hemisphere point of view. "Down Under" is often the informal term for Oceania, which also includes New Zealand.

The persistence of the media use of the term has led to its wide embrace and usage. The Men at Work song "Down Under" became a patriotic rallying song for Australians.

The Russian-Australian boxing champion Kostya Tszyu was nicknamed "The Thunder from Down Under", as is Australian snooker player Neil Robertson. When the then Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins was crowned as Miss Universe 2004 in Quito, Ecuador, she was called by the same nickname by host Billy Bush.

Jennifer Hawkins
Jennifer Hawkins was crowned Miss Universe

Maps and globes of the world are traditionally viewed with north at the top. Since there is no up and down in space, there is no inherent reason for this, but it has always been the case. It may come from the fact that Europeans first began to devise such maps and globes and when they first realised that the world was spherical, they assumed that things on the southern part would appear upside down. They hypothesised that maybe there would be strange upside down people who would hang from the world instead of walking on it. However, this turned out not to be the case.

Whilst the circumnavigation of the globe by Columbus is often cited as the first proof that the earth is spherical, it should be noted that Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) provided logcal proof that it was, and that it rotated on its axis and was revolved around the sun, in the sixth century AD, long before Europeans ever cottoned on. He deduced this from the fact that planets remained in constellations for thirty days but did not remain visible for all of the night.

Peter Baskerville, an Australian citizen who has lived here for over 50 years answers the question like this...

I think most Australians are very comfortable with the description of their homeland as "down under" and don't see it as a negative factor at all.

Sure there are other ways of interpreting its meaning, but the origin of the term 'down-under' comes from the basic fact that on the standard world globe, Australia is positioned down in the bottom half and is under due to the round shape of the globe ... as demonstrated below.

Also, the term is closely associated with one of Australia's most endearing sporting victories when the song "I come from a land down-under' by the Australian band 'Men at Work' became the national anthem for a team of Aussies that beat the yanks (Americans) at their own game by winning the America's cup yacht race in 1983 after 132 years of total American dominance.

Australia II wins the America's Cup
Australia II wins the America's Cup

Furthermore, Australians are by nature a self-effacing people and don't mind the fact that the world at large underestimates the abilities and talents of people said to have come from a land 'down-under'. We have won in so many theaters of life simply because others underestimated us and didn't see us coming until the prize that they believed was their inherent right, was snatched from their grasp by a self-effacing Aussie from 'down-under'.

Upside Down Aussies
A group of upside down Aussies enjoying the beach

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