Form of Government: Federal state
Area: 7 687 943 sq km
Population: 24 698 634 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 3.21 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 11° - 44° S; long. 113° - 154° E
Capital: Canberra (capital) 403 468 inhab. (2016); Canberra-Queanbeyan 440 543 inhab. (2016), urban agglomeration
Currency: Australian dollar (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.939 (rank: 2)
Head of State: The British Sovereign
Prime Minister: Scott Morrison (Liberal Party), since 24 August 2018
House of Representatives: seats based on the elections of 2 July 2016: Liberal/National Coalition (formed by Liberal Party, Liberal National Party of Queensland, National Party of Australia and Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory), 76; ALP (Australian Labor Party), 69; The Greens, 1; Nick Xenophon Team (centre), 1; Katter's Australian Party (conservative), 1; independents, 2
Internet: www.abs.gov.au (Australian Bureau of Statistics)
Member of ANZUS, APEC, Commonwealth, EBRD, OECD, SPC, UN, WTO
International license plate code AUS
International dialling code 0061
Travel vaccinations requirement yellow fever (required only if traveling from a country with risk of transmission, including travelers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of transmission)
Electricity (Voltage) 240
Driving side left
Internet code .au
GMT Canberra +10; Darwin +9.30; Adelaide +9.30; Perth +8; Tasmania +10; Lord Howe Island +10.30
DST Canberra +11; Darwin not applied; Adelaide +10.30; Perth not applied; Tasmania +11; Lord Howe Island +11
DST duration (start-end) early October-early April
Annual average temperature (°C) Sidney 18.2; Alice Springs 20.9; Darwin 27.7; Perth 17.8; Melbourne 15.4
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Sidney 22.5/13; Alice Springs 28.5/12; Darwin 28.5/25; Perth 24/13; Melbourne 20.5/9.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Sidney 6.5/8; Alice Springs 9.5/10; Darwin 10/7; Perth 5/10.5; Melbourne 3.5/7.5
Annual average precipitation (mm) Sidney 1250; Alice Springs 293; Darwin 1699; Perth 870; Melbourne 600
Days of rainfall (annual average) Sidney 124; Alice Springs 39; Darwin 110; Perth 113; Melbourne 142
Politics and current affairs
The political life of the country is influenced by the precarious situation of the coalition government, which counts on a narrow majority.
Surrounded by the sea, to the N and E it is lapped by the Pacific Ocean (Arafura Sea, Coral Sea and Tasman Sea) and to the S and W by the Indian Ocean.
The coasts are low-lying and lacking in ports for the most part; the Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 2000 km opposite the north-eastern shoreline. The region can be divided into three separate areas. The Great Dividing Range consists of a series of fold mountain chains, which form a line along the eastern edge of the country, then continuing into Tasmania and culminating in the Australian Alps (Mount Kosciuszko, 2229 m).
In the middle a lowlands area opens out, corresponding for the most part to the basins of the Murray-Darling and Lake Eyre. To the W a series of tablelands stretch out at 400-500 m as well as vast desert zones. The territory is lacking in water and the rivers are mostly torrential.
The climate is principally desert or semi-desert. Precipitation is only abundant in the marginal areas. The summers are characterised by widespread drought practically everywhere.
An independent federal state within the British Commonwealth (since 1901), Australia comprises of 6 states (each with an elective parliament and governor) and 3 territories (North, Capital and Jervis Bay). Some outer territories are not part of the Australian federation, but are administered by it (or by individual federated states).
After 1941 the Labor Party and the Liberal Party have taken turns at running the government; the Liberal Party also won the 2013 elections. From 2001 to 2007 the country took part in military operations in Iraq alongside the USA. Australia has led some international policing missions in the Pacific area (Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea) and in particular in East Timor, following the country’s independence.
Based on the 1901 Constitution, the Head of State is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, represented by a governor-general. The Federal Executive Council is responsible before Parliament, which consists of two houses: the Senate (76 members, 12 for each state, elected by direct suffrage for 6 years, which may be renewed, by half, every 3, and 2 for each territory, elected for 3 years) and the House of Representatives (150 members, no fewer than 5 for each state, elected by direct suffrage for 3 years); voting is mandatory. The proposal to become a republic, with a president elected by Parliament, was rejected by a referendum (on 6 November, 1999).
Military service is voluntary.
The legal system is based on British Common Law. In addition to the High Court and federal tribunals, each single state has its own supreme court and minor tribunals.
|Brisbane||1 206 607||inhab.||2017|
|Gold Coast (QLD)||592 330||inhab.||2017|
|Greater Sydney||5 029 768||inhab.||2016|
|Greater Melbourne||4 725 316||inhab.||2016|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2017)|
There is a very high urban population percentage. Population growth started to rise again after 2001, at a higher rate than in other industrialized countries. An immigration control policy is upheld (especially immigrants coming from South East Asia), made even harsher in 2013 and in 2017 by the right-wing government. Almost 30% of the population was born abroad. The Aborigines are still marginalized and their life expectancy is about 10 years lower than the population of European origin.
|Foreigners, total||3 245 913||units||2011|
Despite maintaining stable growth, the country is feeling the effect of the drop in prices of raw materials and the reduced demand by East Asia, particularly China.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||104.35||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||2 249||M US$||2017|
|Active population||12 971 320||units||2017|
|Active population, Females||46.7||%||2017|
|Unemployment rate, Females||47.4||%||2017|
|Expenses||634 155||M LCU||2017|
|Revenues||629 299||M LCU||2017|
|Currency in circulation||78.2||BN LCU||2017|
|International reserves||66 597.7||M US$||2017|
Agriculture is highly productive and diversified, but depends heavily on weather conditions and, in particular, on regular periods of drought. Australia is one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products. Cereal production is abundant, especially wheat and barley.
In terms of industrial crops sugar cane and cotton should be pointed out (especially in Queensland and New South Wales) as well as flax (in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria). Fruit (and citrus fruit) growing is widespread: vines thrive in the states of Victoria and South Australia and tobacco is cultivated in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. Eucalyptus, acacia and casuarina are the predominant essences.
Livestock and fishing.
Animal farming, concentrated in the eastern and southwestern areas of the country, is a key resource for the Australian economy. In particular, the country’s sheep farming puts it among the world’s leading wool producers.
The fishing industry focuses on superior species (crustaceans, tuna and molluscs); aquaculture produces mainly salmon and molluscs.
|barley||8 992.274||1000 t||2016|
|cereals, total||35 230.376||1000 t||2016|
|potatoes||1 130.175||1000 t||2016|
|roots and tubers, total||1 202.223||1000 t||2016|
|beans, dry||37.958||1000 t||2016|
|beans, green||35.601||1000 t||2016|
|grapes||1 772.911||1000 t||2016|
|rapeseed||2 944||1000 t||2016|
|mustard seed||0.005||1000 t||2014|
|sugar cane||34 403.004||1000 t||2016|
|seed cotton||1 518.678||1000 t||2016|
|citrus fruits||580.639||1000 t||2016|
|citrus fruits, nes||1.816||1000 t||2016|
|barley||4 107.648||1000 ha||2016|
|sweet potatoes||2.07||1000 ha||2016|
|carrots and turnips||5.245||1000 ha||2016|
|beans, dry||38.066||1000 ha||2016|
|beans, green||6.795||1000 ha||2016|
|rapeseed||2 357||1000 ha||2016|
|mustard seed||0.011||1000 ha||2014|
|sugar cane||447.204||1000 ha||2016|
|seed cotton||280.422||1000 ha||2016|
|citrus fruits||29.031||1000 ha||2016|
|citrus fruits, nes||0.157||1000 ha||2016|
|timber||34 133 561||m³||2016|
|cattle||24 971.349||1000 heads||2016|
|cattle and buffaloes||24 971.349||1000 heads||2016|
|pigs||2 294.245||1000 heads||2016|
|sheep||67 543.092||1000 heads||2016|
|goats||3 839.549||1000 heads||2016|
|asses and mules||1.922||1000 heads||2016|
|birds||92 230||1000 heads||2016|
|crustaceans and molluscs||69 550.154||t||2016|
The subsoil is abundant in minerals. The main oil extraction isn’t enough to meet the national needs. The main deposits are located in Moonie, Alton and Conloi (QLD), on Barrow Island and in the Bass Strait.
Natural gas, which is partly liquefied for export, is supplied by the fields in the Bass Strait, the continental shelf of Queensland and southern Australia, and off Barrow Island; since 2006, an agreement has also been in place with East Timor for the joint exploitation of the offshore fields in the Timor Sea.
The most important coal deposits are located in New South Wales (Newcastle, Lithgow, Cessnock and Burragorang), Queensland (Ipswich, Callide and Collinsville) and in Western Australia (Collie); the Morwell lignite mines are important, too.
Australia is home to over a quarter of the world’s uranium reserves (deposits in Ranger, Kintyre, Olympic Dam, Moline, Mary Kathleen, South Alligator River and Rum Jungle). Iron ore bodies are found in Pilbara, Mount Tom Price, Mount Goldsworthy, Koolanooka, Mount Newman and Koolyanobbing (WA), Savage River (TAS) and Iron Knob (SA). Manganese deposits are worked in Pilbara, Peak Hill and Groote Eylandt. Large copper mines are located in Mount Isa and Mount Morgan (QLD), Mount Lyell (TAS) and Tennant Creek (NT); tin mines in Mount Bischoff (TAS) and Herberton (QLD). Lead is extracted in Broken Hill, Zeehan, Mount Isa and Read-Rosebery (and elsewhere associated with silver); zinc in Broken Hill; asbestos in Wittenoom Gorge; tungsten in Tasmania; and nickel in Kambalda and Scotia. Bauxite comes from Gippsland, Gove (NT), Weipa (QLD) and the Darling Range area (WA).
Diamonds are extracted in Argyle (WA) and Bow River; gold in Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie and Tennant Creek; silver in Broken Hill, Silverton, Chillagoe, Herberton, Zeehan, Mount Lyell and Mount Farrel; opals in Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy and Andamooka (SA).
Energy and industry.
Electricity is mostly obtained from thermal power plants. Hydroelectric production is concentrated in New South Wales (hydropower plant in the Snowy Mountains) and Tasmania.
The iron and steel industry has facilities in Whyalla, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Unanderra and Western Port. Copper production is concentrated in Port Kembla, Queenstown (TAS), Townsville and Mount Morgan; lead in Port Pirie, Mount Isa, Melbourne and Cockle Creek; zinc in Cockle Creek, Port Pirie and Risdon; aluminium in Bell Bay (TAS), Kwinana (WA), Port Henry (VIC) and Kurri Kurri (NSW).
The leading chemical industries are situated in Sydney, Melbourne, Ballarat, Salisbury, Saint Mary, Villawood, Rhodes, Matraville, Geelong, Brisbane, Adelaide, Kwinana, Newcastle, Penrith and Port Kembla.
Man-made and synthetic textile fibres are produced in Tomago, Penrith, Bayswater and Waterloo.
In terms of the mechanical industries the aeronautic industry is significant (in Melbourne and Sydney) as well as the car (in Dandenong and Rushcutters Bay, Sydney) and shipbuilding industries. Other important processing industries include textiles, food conservation, sugar and paper.
|coal||443 321.5||1000 t||2015|
|coal, total||481 296.5||1000 t||2017|
|bauxite||83 000||1000 t||2017|
|diamonds, industrial - ct||14 000||1000 ct||2017|
|- thermal||204 798.74||M kWh||2015|
|- other renew.||21 044||M kWh||2015|
|- thermal||48 884||1000 kW||2015|
|- other renew.||9 422||1000 kW||2015|
|total net generation||239 203.74||M kWh||2015|
|total installed capacity||67 030||1000 kW||2015|
|alumina||20 600||1000 t||2017|
|aluminium||1 490||1000 t||2017|
|commercial vehicles||10 437||no.||2017|
|petrol||16 107.1||1000 t||2014|
|ammonia||1 300||1000 t||2017|
|nitrogen fertilizers||874.1||1000 t||2016|
|carpets||44 186||1000 m²||2008|
|cotton fabrics||8||M m²||2006|
|footwear||5 596 000||pairs||2003|
|beer of barley||1 691||1000 t||2014|
|coconut oil||0.9||1000 t||2011|
|cigarettes and tobacco||18 785||t||2004|
|chemical pulp||1 005.202||1000 t||2016|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||1 385.202||1000 t||2016|
|cement||9 100||1000 t||2015|
|chemicals production||9 069.9||M US$||2013|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||27 609.3||M US$||2013|
Australia is one of the main exporters of minerals and agricultural produce.
Its main imports are vehicles, machinery, computer and telecommunications equipment, and oil products. Its main trading partners are China, Japan and the USA.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017)
iron ores 49 282, coal and its products 40 575, natural gas 20 493, gold 13 091, meat 9 119, chemicals 6 774, crude oil and petroleum products 5 872, wheat 4 655, machinery 4 652, copper ores 3 647, aluminium 3 149, refined copper 2 555, pharmaceuticals 2 530, oil seeds 1 907, vehicles and parts thereof 1 804, electrical and electronic equipment 3 117, optical and electro-medical appliances 3 084, wool and its products 2 872, legumes 2 248, wine 2 052, iron and steel 1 819, milk and dairy products 1 807, jewels and precious stones 1 753, timber 1 657, barley 1 618, cotton 1 605, food preparations 1 560, aircraft and parts thereof 1 526, fruit 1 466, zinc ores 1 347, unwrought zinc 1 286, live animals 1 238, precious metals 1 224, fish and crustaceans 1 068, unwrought lead 941, plastics 904, paper and paperboard 802
Finance and banking.
The Reserve Bank of Australia is the central bank. Financial services are highly developed.
The Australian Security Exchange, based in Sydney, is one of the main stock exchanges in the Pacific area.
|ores and metals||31.718||% of goods exports||2016|
|fuels||27.653||% of goods exports||2016|
|China||68 096||M US$||2017|
|Japan||24 008||M US$||2017|
|China||49 971||M US$||2017|
|United States||23 613||M US$||2017|
Thanks to low air fares and the efficiency of the local tourism board, international tourism plays a significant role.
The main tourism comes from New Zealand, China, Japan, the European Union and the USA.
|Expenditures||29 768||M US$||2016|
|Number of arrivals||8 263 000||units||2016|
The road and rail networks are efficient and extensive, especially along the East Coast. Air travel is highly developed, with more than 400 airports.
|Civil aviation, km flown||547 300 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||74 257.3||1000 units||2017|
|Broadband subscribers||324.041||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Computers||766||per 1000 pop.||2005|
Social and welfare
The governments of the individual states are responsible for primary and secondary educational and technical training. The federal government finances most of the university education and organises special courses to help Aborigine and immigrant students. School attendance is, as a rule, mandatory from 5 to 15 years of age (with small variation depending on the state), apart from young people living in very isolated areas (for whom distance learning systems have been implemented over the Internet and by satellite).
The quality of the country’s universities attracts a growing number of overseas students, especially from East Asia, which is having a positive effect on the balance of payments, too.
|Expected years of schooling||22.9||years||2016|
|Teachers, primary level||104 603||units||1998|
|Teachers, secondary level||104 477||units||1998|
|Social protection spending||27.2||% of total expenses||2016|
|Social protection spending||19.1||% of GDP||2016|
|Hospital beds||3.8||per 1000 pop.||2015|
|Physicians||3.6||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|HIV||0.1||% of adults||2016|
|Museums, visitors||30 717 500||units||2008|
|Research and development spending||1.93||% of GDP||2015|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2016|