What are the key facts about Australia?

Australia (photo by reinn - CC-BY, flag by Ian Fieggen - PD)

Australia (photo by reinn - CC-BY, flag by Ian Fieggen - PD)

Australia is a large but lightly populated island country lying between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

It was constituted in 1901 from a merger of six former colonies of the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth of Australia comprises five mainland states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia) plus the island state of Tasmania, together with the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, a number of islands and a claim to part of Antarctica.

The national anthem is Advance Australia Fair.

How big is Australia?

Australia has an area of 7,686,850 square kilometres (2,967,909 square miles), including 68,920 square kilometers of enclosed water plus Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island but excluding other dependencies and the Antarctic claim. This is more than 75% bigger than all of the countries of the European Union put together, and almost as big as Brazil.

The highest point is Mount Kosciuszko, at 2299 m.

Australia is the sixth largest country, after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil, and comprises just over 5% of the earth’s land area.

What is the population of Australia?

In July 2009 the population of Australia was estimated at 21,262,641 – and growing at 1.195% per year. 18.6% of those are under 15, and 13.5% are over 65. The median age is 37.3 years. There is almost exactly one female for every male.

What is Australia’s climate?

Because Australia is such a large country, its climate is highly varied. Most of the rain falls on the coastal areas in the east, south-east and south-west. The north is hot and tropical. Inland, the country is generally dry and warm, but can be cold at night. Tasmania is cold and damp.

Much of the inland is very dry, with annual rainfall below 200 mm throughout much of South Australia and West Australia. In contrast, annual rainfall exceeds 1000 mm across most of Tasmania, the north coast, the east coast, the south coast of Victoria, and the south-west coast of West Australia.

What currency is used in Australia?

Australia uses a dollar of one hundred cents. Prior to decimalisation (on 14 February 1966) it used a pound of twenty shillings, each of twelve pence.

What is the political structure of Australia?

Australia is a parliamentary democracy with a lower house (“House of Representatives”) and upper house (“Senate”). Australia consists of 6 states plus the Northern Territory (whose capital is Darwin), and the Australian Capital Territory which includes the capital city of Canberra. There are also some dependent islands.

The Queen is hereditary chief of state, and is represented by the Governor General. The Prime Minister heads the government and nominates members of parliament as his cabinet ministers.

What are the states and their capitals?

  • The capital of New South Wales is Sydney
  • The capital of Victoria is Melbourne
  • The capital of Queensland is Brisbane
  • The capital of South Australia is Adelaide
  • The capital of Western Australia is Perth
  • The capital of Tasmania is Hobart

What powers the Australian economy?

3.6% of the labor force work in agriculture, producing cattle, sheep, poultry, wheat, barley, sugarcane and fruits.

21.1% of the labor force work in industry: mining, industrial and transport equipment, food processing, chemicals end steel.

75% of the labor force work in services.

What does Australia export and import?

Australia exports coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment—primarily to Japan, China, South Korea, the US, New Zealand, India and the UK.

Australia imports machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts, crude oil and petroleum products—primarily from China, the US, Japan, Singapore, Germany, the UK and Thailand.

What sports and recreations are popular in Australia?

Australians are keen on sport. Strong team sports include cricket, rugby league, rugby union, Australian Rules football, and soccer. Other popular sports include horse racing, motor racing, cycling, rowing, swimming and tennis.

Outdoor recreation includes camping, bushwalking, kayaking, rafting, canyoning, mountaineering, water skiing, snow skiing, swimming and surfing.

What are the tourism and travel highlights of Australia?

Sydney is the lifestyle capital, with beaches, mountains and culture; Melbourne is the capital of fashion, shopping and food. Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef are dramatic natural destinations, as are Kakadu, Cradle Mountain and Daintree. Hobart offers history and Perth offers wildflowers and wineries. But of course these are just the highlights.


CIA World Factbook (2009)

Wikipedia – Australia (2009)

Climate Data Online – Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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