23 490 736 (2014)
7 741 220 km2
2 988 901 mi2
2 229 m
7 313 ft
Mount Kosciuszko

Prehistoric settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia at least 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 of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). 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 Allied effort in World Wars I and II. ++ In recent decades, Australia has become an internationally competitive, advanced market economy due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s and its location in one of the fastest growing regions of the world economy. Long-term concerns include an aging population, pressure on infrastructure, and environmental issues such as floods, droughts, and bushfires. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, making it particularly vulnerable to the challenges of climate change. Australia is home to 10 per cent of the world's biodiversity, and a great number of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else in the world.
  • generally arid to semiarid
  • temperate in south and east
  • tropical in north

Australia and New Zealand

Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

  • world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country
  • the largest country in Oceania, the largest country entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, and the largest country without land borders
  • the only continent without glaciers
  • 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

  • mostly low plateau with deserts
  • fertile plain in southeast

Mount Kosciuszko
2 229 m
7 313 ft
Lake Eyre
-15 m
-49 ft
Mount Kosciuszko Mount Everest
  • bauxite
  • coal
  • iron ore
  • copper
  • tin
  • gold
  • silver
  • uranium
  • nickel
  • tungsten
  • rare earth elements
  • mineral sands
  • lead
  • zinc
  • diamonds
  • natural gas
  • petroleum
Cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
Volcanic activity on Heard and McDonald Islands
  • 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 freshwater resources

7 741 220 km2
2 988 901 mi2
7 682 300 km2
2 966 151 mi2
58 920 km2
22 749 mi2
25.62 % 17.36 % 76.04 % 31.33 % 43.39 % 100.64 % 55.29 % 1.52 %
0 km
0 mi

25 760 km/16 007 mi

16.10 %

6.02 %

51.60 %
  • wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits
  • cattle, sheep, poultry
  • mining
  • industrial and transportation equipment
  • food processing
  • chemicals
  • steel

23 490 736


50.0 %

50.0 %

18.7 %

66.6 %

14.7 %

3.03 / km2
7.86 / mi2

20 974 643

2 516 093

80.10 yrs

84.40 Years

82.25 Years
2.11 % 0.53 % 3.16 % 4.44 % 6.06 % 62.29 % 0.32 %
  • English 76.8%
  • Mandarin 1.6%
  • Italian 1.4%
  • Arabic 1.3%
  • Greek 1.2%
  • Cantonese 1.2%
  • Vietnamese 1.1%
  • Other 10.4%
  • Unspecified 5%
  • Protestant 30.1% (Anglican 17.1%; Uniting Church 5.0%; Presbyterian and Reformed 2.8%; Baptist 1.6%; Lutheran 1.2%; Pentecostal 1.1%; other Protestant 1.3%)
  • Catholic 25.3% (Roman Catholic 25.1%; other Catholic .2%)
  • Other Christian 2.9%
  • Orthodox 2.8%
  • Buddhist 2.5%
  • Muslim 2.2%
  • Hindu 1.3%
  • Other 1.3%
  • None 22.3%
  • Unspecified 9.3%
  • English 25.9%
  • Australian 25.4%
  • Irish 7.5%
  • Scottish 6.4%
  • Italian 3.3%
  • German 3.2%
  • Chinese 3.1%
  • Indian 1.4%
  • Greek 1.4%
  • Dutch 1.2%
  • Other 15.8% (includes Australian aboriginal .5%)
  • Unspecified 5.4%






Federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

The name Australia is derived from the Latin "australis" meaning southern; the Australian landmass was long referred to as "Terra Australis" or the Southern Land

Bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats - 12 members from each of the 6 states and 2 from each of the 2 mainland territories; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 6-year terms with one-half of state membership renewed every 3 years and territory membership renewed every 3 years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority preferential vote; members serve terms of up to 3 years)

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
"Advance Australia Fair"
Southern Cross constellation (five, seven-pointed stars), kangaroo, emu
National colors: green, gold
Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
Represented by Governor General Sir Peter COSGROVE (since 28 March 2014)
  • 1 January 1901
    (from the federation of UK colonies)

  • Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorates 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)
ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CD, CP, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-20, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF, SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
35 16 S, 149 08 E

Sydney 4.505 million
Melbourne 4.203 million
Brisbane 2.202 million
Perth 1.861 million
Adelaide 1.256 million
CANBERRA 423,000

6 states and 2 territories*
Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
480 (2013)
Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle, Geelong, Gladstone, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Adelaide, Port Kembla, Sydney
beds/1,000 population (2010)
physicians/1,000 population (2011)
High Court of Australia (consists of 7 justices, including the chief justice); note - each of the 6 states, 2 territories, and Norfolk Island has a Supreme Court; the High Court is the final appellate court beyond the state and territory supreme courts
18 years of age
universal and compulsory

Australian Defense Force (ADF)
Australian Army; Royal Australian Navy (includes Naval Aviation Force); Royal Australian Air Force; Joint Operations Command (JOC) (2013)

Following two decades of continuous growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system, Australia enters 2015 facing a range of growth constraints, principally driven by a sharp fall in global prices of key export commodities. Although demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China has grown rapidly, creating a channel for resources investments and growth in commodity exports, sharp drops in current prices have already impacted growth. ++ ++ The services sector is the largest part of the Australian economy, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of jobs. Australia was comparatively unaffected by the global financial crisis as the banking system has remained strong and inflation is under control. ++ ++ Australia has benefited from a dramatic surge in its terms of trade in recent years, although this trend could reverse or slow due to falling global commodity prices. Australia is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas project, will significantly expand the resources sector. ++ ++ Australia is an open market with minimal restrictions on imports of goods and services. The process of opening up has increased productivity, stimulated growth, and made the economy more flexible and dynamic. Australia plays an active role in the World Trade Organization, APEC, the G20, and other trade forums. Australia entered into free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Republic of Korea and Japan, and concluded an FTA with China, in 2014, adding to existing FTAs with Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the US, and a regional FTA with ASEAN and New Zealand. Australia continues to negotiate bilateral agreements with India and Indonesia, as well as larger agreements with its Pacific neighbors and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and an Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that includes the ten ASEAN countries and China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and India. Australia is also working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam.

1 031 944 753 784.7
43 929.9
machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
  • China 20.5%
  • US 10.6%
  • Japan 6.8%
  • Singapore 5%
  • Germany 4.7%
  • South Korea 4.7%
  • Malaysia 4.4%
  • Thailand 4.3%
coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
  • China 33.7%
  • Japan 18%
  • South Korea 7.4%
  • US 4.2%
Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar
1.1094 (2014 est.)

2.5% (2014 est.)
823 217 km
511 523 mi
36 968 km
22 971 mi
2 000 km
1 243 mi
(mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems)
41 per 100 people
country code - 61
landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe
131.23 / 100
84.56 / 100
  • the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) runs multiple national and local radio networks and TV stations, as well as Australia Network, a TV service that broadcasts throughout the Asia-Pacific region and is the main public broadcaster
  • Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a second large public broadcaster, operates radio and TV networks broadcasting in multiple languages
  • several large national commercial TV networks, a large number of local commercial TV stations, and hundreds of commercial radio stations are accessible
  • cable and satellite systems are available (2008)
AM 262
FM 345
shortwave 1 (1998)
369 039.55 kt
kt per capita
51 461.80
kt CO2 equivalent
122 548.90
kt CO2 equivalent
100 %
100 %
5 592
kg of oil equivalent per capita
94 %
2 %

Data source:,,, CIA World Factbook


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