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Introduction - Australia:

BackgroundAboriginal 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 OECDs 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.

Location - Australia:
LocationOceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

Geographic coordinates27 00 S, 133 00 E

Map referencesOceania

Areatotal: 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 comparativeslightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states

Land boundaries0 km

Coastline25,760 km

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

Climategenerally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north

Terrainmostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast

Elevation extremeslowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m

Natural resourcesbauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum

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

Irrigated land25,450 sq km (2003)

Natural hazardscyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

Environment current issuessoil 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 agreementsparty 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 noteworlds 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:
Population20,434,176 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure0-14 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 agetotal: 37.1 years
male: 36.3 years
female: 38 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate0.824% (2007 est.)

Birth rate12.02 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate7.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate3.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratioat 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 ratetotal: 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 birthtotal population: 80.62 years
male: 77.75 years
female: 83.63 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate1.76 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate0.1% (2003 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids14,000 (2003 est.)

Hiv aids deathsless than 200 (2003 est.)

Nationalitynoun: Australian(s)
adjective: Australian

Ethnic groupswhite 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%

ReligionsCatholic 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)

LanguagesEnglish 79.1%, Chinese 2.1%, Italian 1.9%, other 11.1%, unspecified 5.8% (2001 Census)

Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

Government - Australia:
Country nameconventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia

Government typefederal parliamentary democracy

Capitalname: 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

Dependent areasAshmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Macquarie Island

Administrative divisions6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia

Independence1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)

National holidayAustralia 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)

Constitution9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901

Legal systembased on English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branchchief 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 branchbicameral 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 branchHigh Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)

Political parties and leadersAustralian 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 participationANZUS, 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 uschief 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 uschief 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 descriptionblue 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 Australias 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:
Economy overviewAustralia 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. Australias emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economys 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 Australias 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 rate2.7% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp $33,300 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 3.8%
industry: 26.2%
services: 70% (2005 est.)

Labor force10.66 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupationagriculture: 3.6%
industry: 21.2%
services: 75.2% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate4.9% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty lineNA%

Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 25.4% (1994)

Distribution of family income gini index35.2 (1994)

Inflation rate consumer prices 3.8% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed 26.8% of GDP (2006 est.)

Budgetrevenues: $267 billion
expenditures: $258 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)

Public debt14.1% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture productswheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, cattle, sheep, poultry

Industriesmining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel

Industrial production growth rate-3.5% (2006 est.)

Electricity production225.3 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption209.5 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports0 kWh (2004)

Oil production530,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil consumption877,300 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports333,200 bbl/day (2004)

Oil imports611,400 bbl/day (2004)

Oil proved reserves1.491 billion bbl (1 January 2005)

Natural gas production37.03 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption26.37 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas exports10.66 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas imports0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas proved reserves821.2 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)

Current account balance-$41.62 billion (2006 est.)

Exports$117 billion (2006 est.)

Exports commoditiescoal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment

Exports partnersJapan 19.6%, China 12.3%, South Korea 7.5%, US 6.2%, India 5.5%, NZ 5.5%, UK 5% (2006)

Imports$127.7 billion (2006 est.)

Imports commoditiesmachinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products

Imports partnersChina 14.4%, US 14.1%, Japan 9.6%, Singapore 6%, Germany 5.1% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$48.25 billion (2006 est.)

Economic aid donorODA, $894 million (FY99/00)

Debt external$585.1 billion (30 June 2006 est.)

Currency code Australian dollar (AUD)

Exchange ratesAustralian dollars per US dollar - 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004), 1.5419 (2003), 1.8406 (2002)

Communications - Australia:
Fiscal year1 July - 30 June

Telephones main lines in use9.94 million (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular19.76 million (2006)

Telephone systemgeneral 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; submarine cables to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia; satellite earth stations - 19 (10 Intelsat - 4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean, 2 Inmarsat - Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, 2 Globalstar, 5 other) (2005)

Radio broadcast stationsAM 262, FM 345, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations104 (1997)

Internet country code.au

Internet hosts7.773 million (2006)

Internet users15.3 million (2006)

Transportation - Australia:
Airports455 (2006)

Airports with paved runwaystotal: 311
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 133
914 to 1,523 m: 143
under 914 m: 13 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 144
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 111
under 914 m: 15 (2006)

Heliports1 (2006)

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

Railwaystotal: 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)

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

Waterways2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2006)

Merchant marinetotal: 53 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,361,000 GRT/1,532,874 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 17, cargo 4, chemical tanker 3, container 1, liquefied gas 4, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 7, petroleum tanker 6, roll on/roll off 5
foreign-owned: 17 (Canada 1, France 3, Germany 3, Japan 1, Netherlands 2, Norway 1, Philippines 1, UK 2, US 3)
registered in other countries: 34 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Bahamas 2, Bermuda 3, Fiji 1, Hong Kong 1, Liberia 2, Marshall Islands 2, Netherlands 1, NZ 2, Panama 3, Portugal 1, Singapore 7, Tonga 1, UK 3, US 2, Vanuatu 2) (2006)

Ports and terminalsBrisbane, Dampier, Fremantle, Gladstone, Hay Point, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Walcott, Sydney

Military - Australia:
Military branchesAustralian Defense Force (ADF): Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, Special Operations Command (2006)

Military service age and obligation16 years of age for voluntary service; women allowed to serve in Army combat units in non-combat support roles (2001)

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

Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,092,717
females age 16-49: 3,983,447 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annuallymales age 18-49: 142,158
females age 16-49: 135,675 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp2.4% (2006)

Disputes internationalEast 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 Australias 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 Australias 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

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>