One of many beautiful coral sand beaches on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef extends over 2300km along the Queensland coast, with a unique range of geographic forms ranging from fringing coastal reefs and lagoons, outer reefs and the open ocean, islands, estuaries and coastal beaches.
At 344,400km2, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the world's largest World Heritage Area and the biggest tropical marine reserve. Only the Herd Island and McQuarie Island Marine Reserves in the Australian sub-Antarctic are larger.
The Park is bigger than New Zealand, and larger than the total area of UK and Ireland combined. It is roughly equal in size to Japan.
It is one of most complex ecosystems on Earth, rivalled only by tropical rain forests in the richness of its species. The Reef is a comparatively pristine area, with relatively low human pressure compared to other coral reef systems in the world.
And it's popular
The Great Barrier Reef is also one of Australia's premier tourist destinations, with marine tourism annually contributing about $1 billion to the Australian economy.