South Australia is Australia's driest state, with the two northern thirds of South Australia's land being arid or semi-arid country and is only sparsely settled. Natural vegetation is scant in the north and west and consists mainly of saltbush, scrub grasses, small acacias and some eucalyptus. Mount Woodroffe is the state's highest peak (1440m), and is situated in the Musgrave Ranges on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert in South Australia's north-west. In the southwest the barren Nullarbor Plain borders the Great Australian Bight. There is little water in the north-eastern parts of the state and the only regular available water supply for stock is bore water form the Great Artesian Basin. Several depressions below sea level are known as lakes, such as Lake Eyre, Torrens, Gairdner and Frome. These lakes are only occasionally filled with water and are generally dry salt or clay pans.
The southern third of South Australia supports 99 percent of the population and virtually all primary and secondary industry.
The Yorke Peninsula separates the two main gulfs in South Australia, Spencer Gulf (300 km long) and Gulf St Vincent (150 km long). Settlement in concentrated on these gulfs, with the capital Adelaide on Gulf St Vincent; and Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla near the head of Spencer Gulf.
Most of the state is less than 300m above sea level. The Mount Lofty ranges extend north from Kangaroo Island (the small island off Gulf St Vincent) and pass east of Adelaide, and their continuation, the Flinders Ranges, stretch north from the head of Spencer Gulf.
There is only one major river in South Australia and that is the Murray River. It flows in from Victoria and runs west and then south to its mouth at Lake Alexandrina. Water is pumped from it to supply many of the state's towns including Adelaide with water, whilst irrigating thousands of hectares in or near the Murray Valley.
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