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External Tables in oracle

What are external tables i  oracle. In which kind of situation we will use it. First time today i heard about this.Anyone please explain about it.

Thanks in advance.


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External tables allow Oracle to query data that is stored outside the database in flat files as though the file were an Oracle table.

The ORACLE_LOADER driver can be used to access any data stored in any format that can be loaded by SQL*Loader. No DML can be performed on external tables but they can be used for query, join and sort operations. Views and synonyms can be created against external tables. They are useful in the ETL process of data warehouses since the data doesn't need to be staged and can be queried in parallel. They should not be used for frequently queried tables.

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