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Map of Australia

Australia    Introduction Top of Page
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.
Australia    Geography Top of Page
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

land:  7,617,930 sq km

water:  68,920 sq km

note:  includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than the contiguous 48 states of the US
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
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:  6%

permanent crops:  0%

permanent pastures:  54%

forests and woodland:  19%

other:  21% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 21,070 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts
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
Australia    People Top of Page
Population: 19,357,594 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  20.64% (male 2,045,892; female 1,948,949)

15-64 years:  66.86% (male 6,538,096; female 6,405,014)

65 years and over:  12.5% (male 1,059,107; female 1,360,536) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.99% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 12.86 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 7.18 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.19 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 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 (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 4.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population:  79.87 years

male:  77.02 years

female:  82.87 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.77 children born/woman (2001 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%
Languages: English, native languages
Literacy: definition:  age 15 and over can read and write

total population:  100%

male:  100%

female:  100% (1980 est.)
Australia    Government Top of Page
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 Rev. Peter HOLLINGWORTH (since 29 June 2001)

head of government:  Prime Minister John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996); Deputy Prime Minister John ANDERSON (since NA)

cabinet:  Cabinet selected from among the members of Federal Parliament by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

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 territories; one-half of the members elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (148 seats; 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 3 October 1998 (next to be held by October 2001); House of Representatives - last held 3 October 1998 (next to be held by October 2001)

election results:  Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 35, Australian Labor Party 29, Australian Democratic Party 9, Green Party 1, One Nation Party 1, independent 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 80, Australian Labor Party 67, independent 1
Judicial branch: High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)
Political parties and leaders: Australian Democratic Party [Natasha STOTT-DESPOJA]; Australian Labor Party [Kim BEAZLEY]; Green Party [Bob BROWN]; Liberal Party [John Winston HOWARD]; National Party [John ANDERSON]; One Nation Party [Pauline HANSON]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Australian Democratic Labor Party (anti-Communist Labor Party splinter group); Peace and Nuclear Disarmament Action (Nuclear Disarmament Party splinter group)
International organization participation: ANZUS, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMEE, UNTAET, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Michael THAWLEY

chancery:  1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone:  [1] (202) 797-3000

FAX:  [1] (202) 797-3168

consulate(s) general:  Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
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:  Sydney

consulate(s):  Melbourne and Perth
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 stars
Australia    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP at the level of the four dominant West European economies. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Commodities account for 57% of the value of total exports, so that 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. While Australia has suffered from the low growth and high unemployment characterizing the OECD countries in the early 1990s and during the recent financial problems in East Asia, the economy has expanded at a solid 4% annual growth pace in the last five years. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is a key factor behind the economy's resilience to the regional crisis and its stronger than expected growth rate. Growth in 2001 will depend on key international commodity prices, the extent of recovery in nearby Asian economies, and the strength of US and European markets.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $445.8 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.7% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $23,200 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  3%

industry:  26%

services:  71% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  2%

highest 10%:  25.4% (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.4% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 9.5 million (December 1999)
Labor force - by occupation: services 73%, industry 22%, agriculture 5% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 6.4% (2000)
Budget: revenues:  $94 billion

expenditures:  $103 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Industrial production growth rate: 1.5% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production: 191.727 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  89.93%

hydro:  8.36%

nuclear:  0%

other:  1.71% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 178.306 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry
Exports: $69 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Exports - partners: Japan 19%, EU 14%, ASEAN 12%, US 9%, South Korea, NZ, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China (1999)
Imports: $77 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
Imports - partners: EU 24%, US 22%, Japan 14%, ASEAN 13% (1999)
Debt - external: $220.6 billion (2000)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $1.43 billion (FY97/98)
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
Currency code: AUD
Exchange rates: Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.7995 (January 2001), 1.7173 (2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997), 1.2773 (1996)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Australia    Communications Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use: 9.58 million (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 6.4 million (1998)
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): 264 (2000)
Internet users: 7.77 million (2000)
Australia    Transportation Top of Page
Railways: total:  33,819 km (2,540 km electrified)

broad gauge:  3,719 km 1.600-m gauge

standard gauge:  15,422 km 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge:  14,506 km 1.067-m gauge

dual gauge:  172 km NA gauges (1999)
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:  54 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,558,371 GRT/2,038,776 DWT

ships by type:  bulk 26, cargo 3, chemical tanker 5, container 1, liquefied gas 4, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 6 (2000 est.)
Airports: 411 (2000 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total:  271

over 3,047 m:  10

2,438 to 3,047 m:  12

1,524 to 2,437 m:  118

914 to 1,523 m:  122

under 914 m:  9 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total:  140

1,524 to 2,437 m:  17

914 to 1,523 m:  112

under 914 m:  11 (2000 est.)
Australia    Military Top of Page
Military branches: Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force
Military manpower - military age: 17 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  4,990,107 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  4,303,966 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  138,971 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $6.9 billion (FY98/99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.9% (FY98/99)
Australia    Transnational Issues Top of Page
Disputes - international: territorial claim in Antarctica (Australian Antarctic Territory)
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

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