Facts about Australia

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Location: 27 00 S, 133 00 E -- Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean


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 stars


Location:Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates:27 00 S, 133 00 E
Map references:Oceania
total area:7,686,850 sq km
land area:7,617,930 sq km
comparative area:slightly smaller than the US
note:includes Macquarie Island
Land boundaries:0 km
Coastline:25,760 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone:24 nm
continental shelf:200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone:200 nm
territorial sea:12 nm
International disputes:territorial claim in Antarctica (Australian Antarctic Territory)
Climate:generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
Terrain:mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
lowest point:Lake Eyre -15 m
highest point:Mount Kosciusko 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:6%
permanent crops:0%
meadows and pastures:58%
forest and woodland:14%
Irrigated land:18,800 sq km (1989 est.)
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
natural hazards:cyclones along the coast; severe droughts
international agreements:party to - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, 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, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Desertification
Geographic 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


Population:18,260,863 (July 1996 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:21% (male 2,009,915; female 1,912,605)
15-64 years:66% (male 6,129,285; female 5,980,315)
65 years and over:13% (male 967,291; female 1,261,452) (July 1996 est.)
Population growth rate:0.99% (1996 est.)
Birth rate:13.99 births/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Death rate:6.88 deaths/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Net migration rate:2.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1996 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:0.77 male(s)/female
all ages:1 male(s)/female (1996 est.)
Infant mortality rate:5.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1996 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:79.39 years
male:76.44 years
female:82.5 years (1996 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.84 children born/woman (1996 est.)
Ethnic divisions:Caucasian 95%, Asian 4%, aboriginal and other 1%
Religions:Anglican 26.1%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24.3%
Languages:English, native languages
Literacy:age 15 and over can read and write (1980 est.)
total population:100%


Name of country:
conventional long form:Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form:Australia
Data code:AS
Type of government:federal parliamentary state
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) is a hereditary monarch, represented by Governor General Sir William DEANE (since 16 February 1996) who was appointed by the queen
head of government:Prime Minister John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996) was appointed by the governor general; Deputy Prime Minister Timothy Andrew FISCHER (since 11 March 1996)
cabinet:Cabinet was selected from among the members of Federal Parliament by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
Legislative branch:bicameral Federal Parliament
Senate:elections last held 2 March 1996 (next to be held NA 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (76 total) Liberal-National 37, Labor 29, Australian Democrats 8, Greens 1, independent 1
House of Representatives:elections last held 2 March 1996 (next to be held NA 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (148 total) Liberal-National 94, Labor 49, independent 5
Judicial branch:High Court, the Chief Justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general
Political parties and leaders:
government:coalition of Liberal Party, John Winston HOWARD and National Party, Timothy Andrew FISCHER
opposition:Australian Labor Party, Kim BEAZLEY; Australian Democratic Party, Cheryl KERNOT; Green Party, Bob BROWN
Other political or pressure groups:Australian Democratic Labor Party (anti-Communist Labor Party splinter group); Peace and Nuclear Disarmament Action (Nuclear Disarmament Party splinter group)
International organization participation:AG (observer), ANZUS, APEC, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G- 8, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MTCR, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNAMIR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission:Ambassador John Phillip MCCARTHY
chancery:1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone:[1] (202) 797-3000
FAX:[1] (202) 797-3168
consulate(s) general:Atlanta, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pago Pago (American Samoa), and San Francisco
US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission:Ambassador Edward J. PERKINS
embassy:Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
mailing address:APO AP 96549
telephone:[61] (6) 270-5000
FAX:[61] (6) 270-5970
consulate(s) general:Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney


Economic overview:Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP comparable to levels in highly industrialized West European countries. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Commodities account for more than 80% of the value of total exports, so that, as in 1983-84, a downturn in world commodity prices can have a big impact on the economy. The government is pushing for increased exports of manufactured goods, but competition in international markets continues to be severe. Australia has suffered from the low growth and high unemployment characterizing the OECD countries in the early 1990s. In 1992-93 the economy recovered slowly from the prolonged recession of 1990-91, a major restraining factor being weak world demand for Australia's exports. Growth picked up so strongly in 1994 that the government felt the need for fiscal and monetary tightening by yearend. Australia's GDP grew 6.4% in 1994, largely due to increases in industrial output and business investment. A severe drought in 1994 reduced the value of Australia's net farm production, but rising world commodity prices are likely to boost commodity exports by 15% to $42.4 billion in 1995/96, according to government statistics. Short-term economic problems include a balancing of output growth and inflationary pressures and the stimulation of exports to offset rising imports.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $405.4 billion (1995 est.)
GDP real growth rate:3.3% (1995 est.)
GDP per capita:$22,100 (1995 est.)
GDP composition by sector:
services:69.2% (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):4.75% (1995)
Labor force:8.63 million (September 1991)
by occupation:finance and services 33.8%, public and community services 22.3%, wholesale and retail trade 20.1%, manufacturing and industry 16.2%, agriculture 6.1% (1987)
Unemployment rate:8.1% (December 1995)
revenues:$95.69 billion
expenditures:$95.15 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96 est.)
Industries:mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Industrial production growth rate:3.9% (FY93/94)
capacity:34,540,000 kW
production:155 billion kWh
consumption per capita:8,021 kWh (1993)
Agriculture:wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry
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
Exports:$51.57 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities:coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
partners:Japan 25%, US 11%, South Korea 6%, NZ 5.7%, UK, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong (1992)
Imports:$57.41 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities:machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, crude oil and petroleum products
partners:US 23%, Japan 18%, UK 6%, Germany 5.7%, NZ 4% (1992)
External debt:$147.2 billion (1994)
Economic aid:
donor:ODA, $953 million (1993)
Currency:1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents
Exchange rates:Australian dollars ($A) per US$1 - 1.3477 (January 1996), 1.3486 (1995), 1.3668 (1994), 1.4704 (1993), 1.3600 (1992), 1.2835 (1991)
Fiscal year:1 July - 30 June


total:38,563 km (2,914 km electrified; 172 km dual gauge)
broad gauge:6,083 km 1.600-m gauge
standard gauge:16,752 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge:15,728 km 1.067-m gauge
total:810,264 km
paved:283,592 km (including 1,200 km of expressways)
unpaved:526,672 km (1989 est.)
Waterways:8,368 km; mainly by small, shallow-draft craft
Pipelines:crude oil 2,500 km; petroleum products 500 km; natural gas 5,600 km
Ports:Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Devonport, Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart (Tasmania), Launceton (Tasmania), Mackay, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville
Merchant marine:
total:76 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,547,869 GRT/3,679,534 DWT
ships by type:bulk 30, cargo 4, chemical tanker 3, combination bulk 1, container 6, liquefied gas tanker 6, oil tanker 18, roll-on/roll-off cargo 7, short-sea passenger 1 (1995 est.)
with paved runways over 3 047 m:9
with paved runways 2 438 to 3 047 m:13
with paved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m:106
with paved runways 914 to 1 523 m:116
with paved runways under 914 m:30
with unpaved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m:22
with unpaved runways 914 to 1 523 m:146 (1995 est.)


Telephones:8.7 million (1987 est.)
Telephone system:good domestic and international service
domestic:domestic satellite system
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)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 258, FM 67, shortwave 0
Television broadcast stations:134 (1987 est.)
Televisions:9.2 million (1992 est.)


Branches:Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force
Manpower availability:
males age 15-49:4,848,777
males fit for military service:4,192,250
males reach military age (17) annually:127,569 (1996 est.)
Defense expenditures:exchange rate conversion - $7.3 billion, 2.0% of GDP (FY95/96)

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