map of Australia

Introduction Australia
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 its 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. 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 a 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: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
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: 6.55% (includes about 27 million hectares of cultivated grassland)
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 93.41% (2001)
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, 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: 19,913,144 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.1% (male 2,044,449; female 1,948,574)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 6,747,687; female 6,623,995)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 1,121,522; female 1,426,917) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 36.3 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 37.1 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.9% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 12.4 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 7.38 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 5.16 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.26 years
male: 77.4 years
female: 83.27 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2004 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: 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 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 John ANDERSON (since 20 July 1999)
cabinet: Parliament nominates and selects, from among its members, a list of candidates to serve as government ministers; from this list, the governor general swears in the final selections for the Cabinet
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 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 9 October 2004 (next to be held not later than June 2008); House of Representatives - last held 9 October 2004 (next to be held not later than November 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party (as of 1 July 2003) - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 34, Australian Labor Party 28, Australian Democrats 7, Green Party 2, One Nation Party 1, Country Liberal Party 1, Australian Progressive Alliance 1, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 86, Australian Labor Party 60, Country Liberal Party 1, 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 [Andrew BARTLETT]; Australian Labor Party [Mark LATHAM]; Australian Progressive Alliance [Meg LEES]; Country Liberal Party [Terry MILLS]; Australian Greens [Bob BROWN]; Liberal Party [John Winston HOWARD]; The Nationals [John ANDERSON]; One Nation Party [Len HARRIS]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Australian Monarchist League [leader NA]; Australian Republican Movement [leader NA]
International organization participation: ANZUS, APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMEE, UNMISET, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, WToO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Michael J. THAWLEY
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
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: 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 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; the remaining 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 - overview: Australia has an enviable Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Rising output in the domestic economy has been offsetting the global slump, and business and consumer confidence remains robust. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economy's strength. The impact of drought, weak foreign demand, and strong import demand pushed the trade deficit up to $18 billion in 2003 and to $20 billion in 2004 from $8 billion in 2002. One other concern is the domestic housing bubble.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $571.4 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $29,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 26.3%
services: 70.2% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 24.8% of GDP (2003)
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): 2.8% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 10.19 million (37256)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 5%, industry 22%, services 73% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 6% (2003)
Budget: revenues: $185 billion
expenditures: $181 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2003)
Public debt: 18.2% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry
Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Industrial production growth rate: -0.1% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production: 198.2 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 184.4 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 731,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 796,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: 523,400 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports: 530,800 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves: 3.664 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production: 33.08 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 23.33 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 9.744 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 2.407 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance: $-30.14 billion (2003)
Exports: $68.67 billion (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Exports - partners: Japan 18.1%, US 8.7%, China 8.4%, South Korea 7.4%, New Zealand 7.4%, UK 6.7% (2003)
Imports: $82.91 billion (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
Imports - partners: US 16%, Japan 12.5%, China 11%, Germany 6.1%, UK 4.2% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $33.26 billion (2003)
Debt - external: $233.5 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $894 million (FY99/00)
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
Currency code: AUD
Exchange rates: Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.5419 (2003), 1.8406 (2002), 1.9334 (2001), 1.7248 (2000), 1.55 (1999)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

Communications Australia
Telephones - main lines in use: 10.815 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 14.347 million (2003)
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; 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 hosts: 2,847,763 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 571 (2002)
Internet users: 9.472 million (2002)

Transportation Australia
Railways: total: 44,015 km (5,290 km electrified)
broad gauge: 1,957 km 1.600-m gauge
standard gauge: 27,095 km 1.435-m gauge (2,828 km electrified)
dual gauge: 213 km dual gauge (2003)
narrow gauge: 14,957 km 1.067-m gauge (2,462 km electrified)
Highways: total: 811,603 km
paved: 314,090 km (including 18,619 km of expressways)
unpaved: 497,513 km (1999 est.)
Waterways: 2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2004)
Pipelines: condensate/gas 492 km; gas 28,680 km; liquid petroleum gas 240 km; oil 4,773 km; oil/gas/water 110 km (2004)
Ports and harbors: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Devonport (Tasmania), Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart (Tasmania), Launceston (Tasmania), Mackay, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville
Merchant marine: total: 52 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,531,461 GRT/1,999,409 DWT
foreign-owned: United Kingdom 2, United States 12
registered in other countries: 60 (2004 est.)
by type: bulk 20, cargo 5, chemical tanker 3, combination bulk 2, container 3, liquefied gas 4, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 6
Airports: 444 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 305
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 131
914 to 1,523 m: 139
under 914 m: 13 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 143
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 112
under 914 m: 14 (2004 est.)

Military Australia
Military branches: Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, new Special Operations Command (announced in December 2002)
Military manpower - military age and obligation: 16 years of age for voluntary service (2001)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 5,061,810 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 4,356,671 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 140,182 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $14,120.1 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.8% (2003)

This page was last updated on 1 January 2003

This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005