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Australia Facts

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General Information and History Demographics


Official Name:  Commonwealth of Australia

Capital:  Canberra

Flag:  The Southern Cross constellation has long been a symbol of Australia, and the ensign reflects the countrys British heritage. The seven points of the largest star represent the six Australian states and the territories.

Anthem:  Advance Australia Fair

Important Dates in History:

50,000 BC
The first Aborigines probably began arriving in Australia from Southeast Asia around this time.

AD 1606
Willem Jansz, a Dutch captain, became the first European to explore the Australian coast.

1770
Captain James Cook, an English explorer, claimed eastern Australia for Great Britain.

1788
The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay and established a penal colony near modern-day Sydney.

1829
The colony of Western Australia was founded at Perth, giving Great Britain control of the entire Australian continent.

1850
Transportation of British convicts to Sydney was abolished. However, it continued to Hobart, on the island of Tasmania, and to Western Australia for several years, allowing those colonies to grow quickly.

1851
Gold was discovered in New South Wales and Victoria, and a new wave of immigrants soon moved to Australia. Melbourne and other cities prospered in the following decades.

1901
The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed. The same year, the White Australia Policy was implemented.

1914
Many Australians enlisted for service in World War I. However, enthusiasm for the war waned as the Australian economy suffered.

1931
The Great Depression was made worse in much of Australia by deflationary government policies.

1942
Darwin was bombed repeatedly until Australian forces helped stop the Japanese advance in the Pacific during World War II.

1951
Australia signed the ANZUS defense treaty with New Zealand and the United States.

1956
Melbourne hosted the first Olympic Games held in the southern hemisphere.

1964
The military draft was introduced in Australia for the first time. Australian troops were sent to Vietnam the next year.

1967
The Australian government granted Aborigines the right to vote.

1972
The Labor Party took power for the first time since 1949. It soon abolished the draft and withdrew Australian forces from Vietnam.

1993
Sydney was chosen as the site of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

1996
A coalition of Liberal Party and National Party candidates gained a majority in both houses of parliament, ending 13 years of consecutive Labor rule.

 


Land Area:  7,682,300 sq km (2,966,200 sq mi)

Highest Point:  Mount Kosciusko 2,228 m (7,310 ft) above sea level

Lowest Point:  Lake Eyre 16 m (52 ft) below sea level

Average Temperature:

Canberra: January - 21 C     69 F
July - 61C     43F
Perth: January - 23C     74F
July - 13C     55F

Annual Average Precipitation:
Canberra:  590 mm (23 in)
Perth:  880 mm (35in)

Population:  23,028,000 (2013 estimate)

Population Density:  2 persons per sq km ( 6 persons per sq mi)

Distribution:  85% Urban 15% Rural

Largest Cities:

Sydney 4,667,283
Melbourne 4,246,345
Brisbane 2,189,878
Perth 1,897,548
Adelaide 1,277,174
(2012 estimates)

Ethnic Groups:
90% European
7% Asian
3% Aborigine and Torres Strait Islanders

Languages:
English (official)
Indigenous languages

Religions:
25.3% Roman Catholicism
17.1% Anglicanism
18.8% Other Christian Denominations
29.5% Other
including Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or none

Economy
Gross Domestic Product - $998.3 billion (2013)

Chief Economic Products:
Agriculture

Wheat and other grains, wool, beef, vegetables, fruits, cotton, sugarcane

Forestry

Eucalyptus, maple, walnut, rosewood, Monterey pine

Fishing

Shellfish, including scallops, shrimp, spring and green rock lobsters, oysters, and abalone; marine fishes, including orange roughy, sharks and rays, skipjack tuna, mullet, southern bluefin tuna, and royal escolar

Mining

Coal, bauxite, alumina, iron ore, gold, silver, diamonds, petroleum, natural gas, zinc, copper, manganese, titanium, nickel, tin, lead, uranium, zircon, tungsten

Manufacturing

Metals and metal products, food products, transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals and chemical products, textiles and clothing, wood and paper products, printed materials

Employee Breakdown:
75% Service
21.1% Industry 
3.6% Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

Major Exports:  Metal ores, coal, gold, nonferrous metals, meat and meat products, textile fibers, petroleum and petroleum products, cereals

Major Imports:  Road vehicles and other transportation equipment, machinery, office equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles

Major Trading Partners:  
Exports:
Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, United States, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia

Imports: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, China, New Zealand

Currency:  Australian Dollar

Exchange Rate:  1 U.S. Dollar = 1.28 Australian Dollars
(Feb. 2015)