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Flag of Australia

Flag of the Aboriginals

Country Profile

Capital City: Canberra (pop. 311 500)

Other Cities:
Adelaide, Brisbane (1.6 million) Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne (3.5 million), Sydney (4.0 million), Perth (1.3 million)

Local Time: UTC +10h


Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.
Geographically close to Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste
Area: 7.7 million sq. km. (3 million sq. mi.); about the size of the 48 contiguous United States.
Terrain: Varied, but generally low-lying.

Australian Maps:
Australia's National Mapping Agency
Online resource for Australia related facts and maps.
Australia Map

Political Map of Australia.

Relatively dry, ranging from temperate in the south to tropical in the north.

Government: Democratic, federal-state system recognizing British monarch as sovereign.
Constitution: 9 July, 1900.
Independence (federation): 1 January, 1901.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Australian(s).
Population: 20 million.
GNI per capita PPP: $ 31 020 (year)
Ethnic groups: European 92%, Asian 6%, Aboriginal 2%.
Religions: Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 21%, other non-Christian 5%, no religion 15%.
Languages: English, native languages.
Literacy: 85%.


Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)

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

Agriculture products:
Wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry.

Mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel.

Exports partners:
Japan 13,9%, USA 6,7%, China 6.4%, New Zealand 5,7%, South Korea 5,7%, UK 5.2%, Taiwan 2.6% (2003)

Imports partners:
USA 15.8%, Japan 12.5%, China 11%, Germany 6.1%, UK 4.2% (2003)



Background:  Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire
in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to
rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to
make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II.
Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone
layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the
Great Barrier Reef. A referendum to change Australia's status, from a
commonwealth headed by the British monarch to an independent republic,
was defeated in 1999.

Geography Australia

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 water: 68,920 sq km note: includes Lord
Howe Island and Macquarie Island land: 7,617,930 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states

Land boundaries:  0 km

Coastline:  25,760 km

Maritime claims:   12 NM exclusive economic zone: 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, silver,
uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural
gas, petroleum

Land use:  arable land: 7% permanent crops: 0% other: 93% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  24,000 sq km (1998 est.)

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, Nuclear Test Ban, 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;
regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the Doctor" occurs
along the west coast in the summer

People Australia

Population:  19,546,792 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 20.4% (male 2,046,052; female 1,949,725)
15-64 years: 67% (male 6,610,840; female 6,480,354) 65 years and over:
12.6% (male 1,078,506; female 1,381,315) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.96% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  12.71 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  7.25 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  4.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.78 male(s)/female total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  4.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:  total population: 80 years female: 83 years
(2002 est.)  male: 77.15 years

Total fertility rate:  1.77 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.15% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  14,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  100 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Australian(s) adjective: Australian

Ethnic groups:  Caucasian 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%

Religions:  Anglican 26.1%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24.3%,
non-Christian 11%, other 12.6%

Languages:  English, native languages

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 100% male: 100% female: 100% (1980 est.)

Government Australia

Country name:  conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia

Government type:  democratic, federal-state system recognizing the
British monarch as sovereign

Capital:  Canberra

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

Independence:  1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)

National holiday:  Australia Day, 26 January (1788)

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 ELIZABETH II (since 6 February
1952), represented by Governor General Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter HOLLINGWORTH
(since 29 June 2001) head of government: Prime Minister John Winston
HOWARD (since 11 March 1996); Deputy Prime Minister John ANDERSON
(since 20 July 1999) cabinet: Cabinet Parliament nominates, from among
its members, a list of candidates to serve as government ministers;
from this list, the governor general makes the final selections for the
Cabinet elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general
appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader
of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually
appointed prime minister by the governor general for a three-year term
note: government coalition - Liberal Party and National Party

Legislative branch:  bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate
(76 seats - 12 from each of the six states and two from each of the two
mainland territories; one-half of the members elected every three years
by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives
(150 seats - this is up from 148 seats in 2001 election; members elected
by popular vote on the basis of preferential representation to serve
three-year terms; no state can have fewer than five representatives)
elections: Senate - last held 10 November 2001 (next to be held by
November 2004); House of Representatives - last held 10 November 2001
(next to be held by November 2004) election results: Senate - percent
of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party
coalition 35, Australian Labor Party 28, Australian Democrats 8, Green
Party 2, One Nation Party 1, Country Labor Party 1, independent 1; House
of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party -
Liberal Party-National Party coalition 82, Australian Labor Party 65,
independent and other 3

Judicial branch:  High Court (the chief justice and six other justices
are appointed by the governor general)

Political parties and leaders:  Australian Democrats [Natasha
STOTT-DESPOJA]; Australian Labor Party [Simon CREAN]; Country Labor Party
[leader NA]; Green Party [Bob BROWN]; Liberal Party [John Winston HOWARD];
National Party [John ANDERSON]; One Nation Party [leader NA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Australian Democratic Labor Party
(anti-Communist Labor Party splinter group); Australian Monarchist League
[leader NA]; Australian Republican Movement [leader NA]

International organization participation:  ANZUS, APEC, ARF (dialogue
partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC,
IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest),

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador Michael J. THAWLEY
consulate(s) general:  FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168 telephone: [1] (202)
797-3000 chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
J. Thomas SCHIEFFER embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra,
Australian Capital Territory 2600 mailing address:  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;
the remaining half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation
in white with one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed

Economy Australia

Economy - overview:  Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist
economy, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European
economies. The Australian economy has been resilient in the face of
the global economic downturn in 2001 chalking up 2.3% GDP growth, as
the domestic economy is offsetting the external slump and business and
consumer confidence remains robust. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is
a key factor behind the economy's strength, and Australia is expected
to outperform its trading partners in 2002, with GDP growth projected
to be 3% or better. Australia probably will experience some weakness in
mid-2002 as its business cycle tends to lag the US by about six months,
and larger problems could emerge if Australia's trade position worsens.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $465.9 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $24,000 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 3% industry: 25% services: 72%
(2000 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):  4.3% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  9.2 million (December 2001)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 73%, industry 22%, agriculture 5%
(1997 est.)

Unemployment rate:  6.7% (2001)

Budget:  revenues: $86.8 billion expenditures: $84.1 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (FY00/01 est.)

Industries:  mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food
processing, chemicals, steel

Industrial production growth rate:  0.4% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  202.676 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 89.79% hydro: 8.47%
other: 1.74% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  188.489 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle,
sheep, poultry

Exports:  $68.8 billion (2001 est.)

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

Exports - partners:  Japan 19%, US 9%, South Korea 7%, China 6%, New
Zealand 5.8%, Singapore 4% (2001 est.)

Imports:  $70.2 billion (2001 est.)

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

Imports - partners:  US 20%, Japan 13%, China 7.7%, UK 6%, Germany 5%,
South Korea 4%, NZ 4%, Malaysia 3.6% (2001 est.)

Debt - external:  $168.7 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - donor:  ODA, $894 million (FY99/00)

Currency:  Australian dollar (AUD)

Currency code:  AUD

Exchange rates:  Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.9354 (January 2002),
1.9320 (2001), 1.7173 (2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997)

Fiscal year:  1 July - 30 June

Communications Australia

Telephones - main lines in use:  10.05 million (2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  8.6 million (2000)

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: submarine cables to New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat
(4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean), 2 Inmarsat (Indian and Pacific
Ocean regions) (1998)

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

Radios:  25.5 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  104 (1997)

Televisions:  10.15 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .au

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  603 (2001)

Internet users:  10.06 million (2001)

Transportation Australia

Railways:  total: 33,819 km (2,540 km electrified) broad gauge: 3,719
km 1.600-m gauge narrow gauge: 14,506 km 1.067-m gauge standard gauge:
15,422 km 1.435-m gauge dual gauge: 172 km NA gauges (1999 est.)

Highways:  total: 913,000 km paved: 353,331 km (including 1,363 km of
expressways) unpaved: 559,669 km (1996)

Waterways:  8,368 km (mainly used by small, shallow-draft craft)

Pipelines:  crude oil 2,500 km; petroleum products 500 km; natural gas
5,600 km

Ports and harbors:  Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Devonport
(Tasmania), Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart (Tasmania), Launceston (Tasmania),
Mackay, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville

Merchant marine:  total: 55 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,469,362
GRT/1,869,262 DWT ships by type: bulk 26, cargo 5, chemical tanker 4,
container 1, liquefied gas 4, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 7, roll
on/roll off 6, includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag
of convenience: France 2, United Kingdom 2, United States 14 (2002 est.)

Airports:  421 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:   11 1,524 to 2,437 m: Airports - with
unpaved runways:  total: 139 1,524 to 2,437 m: 16 914 to 1,523 m: 111
under 914 m: 12 (2001)

Military Australia

Military branches:  Royal Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal
Australian Air Force

Military manpower - military age:  17 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 5,013,406 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 4,321,387
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 142,686
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $9.3 billion (FY01/02 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  2% (FY01/02)

Transnational Issues Australia

Disputes - international:  Australia-East Timor-Indonesia are working
to resolve maritime boundary and sharing of seabed resources in "Timor
Gap"; Australia asserts a territorial claim to Antarctica and to its
continental shelf

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

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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