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Australia Country Guide

Explore Australia in Oceania

Australia with the capital city Canberra is located in Oceania (Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean). It covers some 7,686,851 square kilometres (slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states) with 20,600,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Australia

The landscape offers mostly low plateau with deserts and fertile plain in southeast. The average density of population is approximately 3 per km². The notable climate conditions in Australia can be described as generally arid to semiarid with temperate in south and east, tropical in north. Potential threats by nature are cyclones along the coast or severe droughts or forest fires.

To reach someone in Australia dial +61 prior to a number. There are 9,020,000 installed telephones. And there are 24,220,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 MHz and 3G. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".au". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Australia

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 or Federation 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; on the fly half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small, five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars.

Prehistoric settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia at least 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 of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). 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 agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the Allied effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has become an internationally competitive, advanced market economy due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s and its location in one of the fastest growing regions of the world economy. Long-term concerns include aging of the population, pressure on infrastructure, and environmental issues such as floods, droughts, and bushfires. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, making it particularly vulnerable to the challenges of climate change. Australia is home to 10 per cent of the world's biodiversity, and a great number of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else in the world. In January 2013, Australia assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Oceania
Capital: Canberra
Size 7,686,850 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 2,967,909 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states
Population 20,600,000
Currency Name: Dollar, Currency Code: AUD
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .au
Telephone Country Prefix +61
Mobile Phone Connections 24,220,000
Landline Phone Connections 9,020,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 7,741,220 (sq km) 6

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 22,262,501 55
Population growth rate 1.11 (%) 106
Birth rate 12.23 (births/1,000 population) 162
Death rate 7.01 (deaths/1,000 population) 132
Net migration rate 5.83 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 20
Maternal mortality rate 7.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 166
Infant mortality rate 4.49 (deaths/1,000 live births) 190
Life expectancy at birth 81.98 (years) 10
Total fertility rate 1.77 (children born/woman) 162
Health expenditures 8.70 (% of GDP) 48
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.10 (%) 115
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 20,000 77
HIV/AIDS - deaths 100 120
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 26.80 (%) 44
Education expenditures 5.10 (% of GDP) 71
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 11.3 (%) 101


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 986,700,000,000 19
GDP - real growth rate 3.60 (%) 95
GDP - per capita (PPP) 43,300 20
Labor force 12,270,000 43
Unemployment rate 5.20 (%) 48
Distribution of family income - Gini index 30 114
Investment (gross fixed) 28.20 (% of GDP) 30
Taxes and other revenues 33.5 (% of GDP) 76
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -0.80 (% of GDP) 56
Public debt 26.90 (% of GDP) 119
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 2.10 (%) 36
Central bank discount rate 4.35 (%) 81
Commercial bank prime lending rate 7.74 (%) 118
Stock of narrow money 544,000,000,000 10
Stock of broad money 1,708,000,000,000 11
Stock of domestic credit 2,303,000,000,000 12
Market value of publicly traded shares 1,198,000,000,000 13
Industrial production growth rate -0.10 (%) 146
Current account balance -47,100,000,000 186
Exports 263,900,000,000 23
Imports 239,700,000,000 21
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 47,700,000,000 40
Debt - external 1,403,000,000,000 14
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 598,700,000,000 12
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 496,400,000,000 14


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 241,500,000,000 (kWh) 19
Electricity - consumption 228,800,000,000 (kWh) 18
Electricity - installed generating capacity 56940000 (kW) 16
Electricity - from fossil fuels 79.0 (% of total installed capacity) 95
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 13.7 (% of total installed capacity) 108
Electricity - from other renewable sources 4.7 (% of total installed capacity) 41
Crude oil - production 482,500 (bbl/day) 32
Crude oil - exports 250,000 (bbl/day) 29
Crude oil - imports 380,900 (bbl/day) 23
Crude oil - proved reserves 1426000000 (bbl) 38
Refined petroleum products - production 674,700 (bbl/day) 27
Refined petroleum products - consumption 1,023,000 (bbl/day) 21
Refined petroleum products - exports 64,730 (bbl/day) 53
Refined petroleum products - imports 332,900 (bbl/day) 20
Natural gas - production 44,990,000,000 (cu m) 23
Natural gas - consumption 27,560,000,000 (cu m) 31
Natural gas - exports 25,530,000,000 (cu m) 14
Natural gas - imports 8,102,000,000 (cu m) 30
Natural gas - proved reserves 788,600,000,000 (cu m) 29
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 405,300,000 (Mt) 17


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 10,570,000 20
Telephones - mobile cellular 24,490,000 43
Internet hosts 17,081,000 8
Internet users 15,810,000 25


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 467 18
Railways 38,445 (km) 7
Roadways 823,217 (km) 9
Waterways 2,000 (km) 43
Merchant marine 41 75


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 3.00 (% of GDP) 41

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Australian Convict Sites
The property includes a selection of eleven penal sites, among the thousands established by the British Empire on Australian soil in the 18th and 19th centuries. The sites are spread across Australia, from Fremantle in Western Australia to Kingston a ...
Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte)
Riversleigh and Naracoorte, situated in the north and south respectively of eastern Australia, are among the world’s 10 greatest fossil sites. They are a superb illustration of the key stages of evolution of Australia’s unique fauna. ...
Fraser Island
Fraser Island lies just off the east coast of Australia. At 122 km long, it is the largest sand island in the world. Majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sand and half the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found inland from the b ...
Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
This site, comprising several protected areas, is situated predominantly along the Great Escarpment on Australia’s east coast. The outstanding geological features displayed around shield volcanic craters and the high number of rare and threatened r ...
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also ho ...
Greater Blue Mountains Area
The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million ha of sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges dominated by temperate eucalypt forest. The site, comprised of eight protected areas, is noted for its representation of the evolutionary adapta ...
Heard and McDonald Islands
Heard Island and McDonald Islands are located in the Southern Ocean, approximately 1,700 km from the Antarctic continent and 4,100 km south-west of Perth. As the only volcanically active subantarctic islands they ‘open a window into the earth’, t ...
Kakadu National Park
This unique archaeological and ethnological reserve, located in the Northern Territory, has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the re ...
Lord Howe Island Group
A remarkable example of isolated oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 m under the sea, these islands boast a spectacular topography and are home to numerous endemic species, especially birds. ...
Macquarie Island
Macquarie Island (34 km long x 5 km wide) is an oceanic island in the Southern Ocean, lying 1,500 km south-east of Tasmania and approximately halfway between Australia and the Antarctic continent. The island is the exposed crest of the undersea Macqu ...
Ningaloo Coast
The 604,500 hectare marine and terrestrial property of Ningaloo Coast, on the remote western coast of Australia, includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. On land the site features an extensive karst system and network of underground ...
Purnululu National Park
The 239,723 ha Purnululu National Park is located in the State of Western Australia. It contains the deeply dissected Bungle Bungle Range composed of Devonian-age quartz sandstone eroded over a period of 20 million years into a series of beehive-shap ...
Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
The Royal Exhibition Building and its surrounding Carlton Gardens were designed for the great international exhibitions of 1880 and 1888 in Melbourne. The building and grounds were designed by Joseph Reed. The building is constructed of brick and tim ...
Shark Bay, Western Australia
At the most westerly point of the Australian continent, Shark Bay, with its islands and the land surrounding it, has three exceptional natural features: its vast sea-grass beds, which are the largest (4,800 km2) and richest in the world; its dugong ( ...
Sydney Opera House
Inaugurated in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century that brings together multiple strands of creativity and innovation in both architectural form and structural design. A great urban sculpture set in a remark ...
Tasmanian Wilderness
In a region that has been subjected to severe glaciation, these parks and reserves, with their steep gorges, covering an area of over 1 million ha, constitute one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. Remains found in limestone c ...
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
This park, formerly called Uluru (Ayers Rock – Mount Olga) National Park, features spectacular geological formations that dominate the vast red sandy plain of central Australia. Uluru, an immense monolith, and Kata Tjuta, the rock domes located wes ...
Wet Tropics of Queensland
This area, which stretches along the north-east coast of Australia for some 450 km, is made up largely of tropical rainforests. This biotope offers a particularly extensive and varied array of plants, as well as marsupials and singing birds, along wi ...
Willandra Lakes Region
The fossil remains of a series of lakes and sand formations that date from the Pleistocene can be found in this region, together with archaeological evidence of human occupation dating from 45–60,000 years ago. It is a unique landmark in the study ...