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This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


Map of Australia



Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Australia Top of Page
Background:

Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.

 

  
   Geography    Australia Top of Page
Location:

Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates:

27 00 S, 133 00 E
Map references:

Oceania
Area:

total: 7,686,850 sq km
land: 7,617,930 sq km
water: 68,920 sq km
note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island
Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states
Land boundaries:

0 km
Coastline:

25,760 km
Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate:

generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
Terrain:

mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m
Natural resources:

bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Land use:

arable land: 6.15% (includes about 27 million hectares of cultivated grassland)
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 93.81% (2005)
Irrigated land:

25,450 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:

cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
Environment - current issues:

soil erosion from overgrazing, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; limited natural fresh water resources
Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:

world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; the invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast, and is one of the most consistent winds in the world
   People    Australia Top of Page
Population:

20,434,176 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.3% (male 2,023,375/female 1,929,229)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 6,945,068/female 6,831,653)
65 years and over: 13.2% (male 1,197,494/female 1,507,357) (2007 est.)
Median age:

total: 37.1 years
male: 36.3 years
female: 38 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:

0.824% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:

12.02 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:

7.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:

3.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.049 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.017 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.794 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:

total: 4.57 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 80.62 years
male: 77.75 years
female: 83.63 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:

1.76 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

14,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:

noun: Australian(s)
adjective: Australian
Ethnic groups:

white 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%
Religions:

Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7%, none 15.3% (2001 Census)
Languages:

English 79.1%, Chinese 2.1%, Italian 1.9%, other 11.1%, unspecified 5.8% (2001 Census)
Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
   Government    Australia Top of Page
Country name:

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia
Government type:

federal parliamentary democracy
Capital:

name: Canberra
geographic coordinates: 35 17 S, 149 13 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in October; ends last Sunday in March
note: Australia is divided into three time zones
Administrative divisions:

6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Dependent areas:

Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Macquarie Island
Independence:

1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)
National holiday:

Australia Day, 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
Constitution:

9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901
Legal system:

based on English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage:

18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:

chief of state: Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael JEFFERY (since 11 August 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996); Deputy Prime Minister Mark VAILE (since 6 July 2005)
cabinet: prime minister nominates, from among members of Parliament, candidates who are subsequently sworn in by the governor general to serve as government ministers
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general
note: government coalition - Liberal Party and National Party
Legislative branch:

bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the six states and 2 from each of the two mainland territories; one-half of state members are elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms while all territory members are elected every three years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members elected by popular preferential vote to serve terms of up to three-years; no state can have fewer than 5 representatives)
elections: Senate - last held 9 October 2004 (next to be held no later than June 2008); House of Representatives - last held 9 October 2004 (next to be called no later than November 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 39, Australian Labor Party 28, Australian Greens 4, Democrats 4, Family First Party 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 87, Australian Labor Party 60, independents 3
Judicial branch:

High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)
Political parties and leaders:

Australian Democrats [Lyn ALLISON]; Australian Greens [Bob BROWN]; Australian Labor Party [Kevin RUDD]; Country Liberal Party [Jodeen CARNEY]; Family First Party [Steve FIELDING]; Liberal Party [John Winston HOWARD]; The Nationals [Mark VAILE]
International organization participation:

ANZUS, APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMIS, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Dennis J. RICHARDSON
chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000
FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Robert D. McCALLUM, Jr.
embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
mailing address: APO AP 96549
telephone: [61] (02) 6214-5600
FAX: [61] (02) 6214-5970
consulate(s) general: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
Flag description:

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant known as the Commonwealth or Federation Star, representing the federation of the colonies of Australia in 1901; the star depicts one point for each of the six original states and one representing all of Australia's internal and external territories; on the fly half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars
   Economy    Australia Top of Page
Economy - overview:

Australia has an enviable Western-style capitalist economy with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Robust business and consumer confidence and high export prices for raw materials and agricultural products are fueling the economy. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economy's strength. Drought and strong import demand pushed the trade deficit up in recent years, although the trade balance improved in 2006. Housing prices probably peaked in 2005, diminishing the prospect that interest rates would be raised to prevent a speculative bubble. Conservative fiscal policies have kept Australia's budget in surplus since 2002.
GDP (purchasing power parity):

$674.6 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):

$644.7 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:

2.7% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):

$33,300 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 26.2%
services: 70.1% (2006 est.)
Labor force:

10.74 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 21.2%
services: 75.2% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate:

4.9% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:

NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 25.4% (1994)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:

35.2 (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.5% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):

26.7% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget:

revenues: $268.2 billion
expenditures: $257.3 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:

16.1% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:

wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, cattle, sheep, poultry
Industries:

mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Industrial production growth rate:

-3.5% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:

236.7 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:

219.8 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:

530,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:

877,300 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:

333,200 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:

611,400 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:

1.491 billion bbl (1 January 2005)
Natural gas - production:

38.62 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:

25.72 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:

12.9 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:

750.6 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:

-$41.14 billion (2006 est.)
Exports:

$124.8 billion (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:

coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Exports - partners:

Japan 19.6%, China 12.3%, South Korea 7.5%, US 6.2%, India 5.5%, NZ 5.5%, UK 5% (2006)
Imports:

$134.5 billion (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:

machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
Imports - partners:

China 14.4%, US 14.1%, Japan 9.6%, Singapore 6%, Germany 5.1% (2006)
Economic aid - donor:

ODA, $894 million (FY99/00)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$55.08 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:

$628.1 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$246.2 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$226.8 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:

$804.1 billion (2005)
Currency (code):

Australian dollar (AUD)
Exchange rates:

Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004), 1.5419 (2003), 1.8406 (2002)
Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June
   Communications    Australia Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:

9.94 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:

19.76 million (2006)
Telephone system:

general assessment: excellent domestic and international service
domestic: domestic satellite system; much use of radiotelephone in areas of low population density; rapid growth of mobile cellular telephones
international: country code - 61; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; the Southern Cross fiber optic submarine cable provides links to New Zealand and the United States; satellite earth stations - 19 (10 Intelsat - 4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean, 2 Inmarsat - Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, 2 Globalstar, 5 other) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:

AM 262, FM 345, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:

104 (1997)
Internet country code:

.au
Internet hosts:

9.458 million (2007)
Internet users:

15.3 million (2006)
   Transportation    Australia Top of Page
Airports:

461 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:

total: 317
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 138
914 to 1,523 m: 143
under 914 m: 13 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 144
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 109
under 914 m: 16 (2007)
Heliports:

1 (2007)
Pipelines:

condensate/gas 546 km; gas 31,323 km; liquid petroleum gas 240 km; oil 4,808 km; oil/gas/water 110 km (2006)
Railways:

total: 38,550 km
broad gauge: 3,727 km 1.600-m gauge
standard gauge: 20,519 km 1.435-m gauge (1,877 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 14,074 km 1.067-m gauge (2,453 km electrified)
dual gauge: 230 km dual gauge (2006)
Roadways:

total: 810,641 km
paved: 336,962 km
unpaved: 473,679 km (2004)
Waterways:

2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2006)
Merchant marine:

total: 52 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,322,527 GRT/1,501,865 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 16, cargo 5, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 4, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 5
foreign-owned: 16 (Canada 2, France 1, Germany 2, Netherlands 2, Norway 1, Philippines 1, UK 2, US 5)
registered in other countries: 29 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Bahamas 3, Bermuda 4, Fiji 1, The Gambia 1, Liberia 2, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 4, Singapore 6, Tonga 1, UK 1, US 2, Vanuatu 2, unknown 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:

Brisbane, Dampier, Fremantle, Gladstone, Hay Point, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Walcott, Sydney
   Military    Australia Top of Page
Military branches:

Australian Defense Force (ADF): Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, Special Operations Command (2006)
Military service age and obligation:

16 years of age for voluntary service; women allowed to serve in Army combat units in non-combat support roles (2001)
Manpower available for military service:

males age 18-49: 4,943,676
females age 18-49: 4,821,264 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 4,092,717
females age 16-49: 3,983,447 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:

males age 18-49: 142,158
females age 16-49: 135,675 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

2.4% (2006)
   Transnational Issues    Australia Top of Page
Disputes - international:

East Timor and Australia agreed in 2005 to defer the disputed portion of the boundary for fifty years and to split hydrocarbon revenues evenly outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area covered by the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty; East Timor dispute hampers creation of a revised maritime boundary with Indonesia in the Timor Sea; Indonesian groups challenge Australia's claim to Ashmore and Cartier Islands; Australia closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier Reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing and placed restrictions on certain catch; regional states continue to express concern over Australia's 2004 declaration of a 1,000-nautical mile-wide maritime identification zone; Australia asserts land and maritime claims to Antarctica (see Antarctica); in 2004 Australia submitted its claims to UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its continental margins covering over 3.37 million square kilometers or roughly thirty percent of its claimed exclusive economic zone; since 2003, Australian Defense Force leads the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to maintain civil and political order and reinforce regional security
Illicit drugs:

Tasmania is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines

This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


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