Australia

Introduction Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 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 in the name of Great Britain. 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 British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include climate-change issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and more frequest droughts, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.
History

The first human habitation of Australia is estimated to have occurred between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago.[7][8] These first Australians were possibly the ancestors of the current Indigenous Australians; they may have arrived via land bridges and short sea-crossings from present-day South-East Asia. Most of these people were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime. The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, inhabited the Torres Strait Islands and parts of far-north Queensland; their cultural practices were and remain distinct from those of the Aborigines.

The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland was made by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, who sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606. During the 17th century, the Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines of what they called New Holland, but made no attempt at settlement. In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast of Australia, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain. The expedition's discoveries provided impetus for the establishment of a penal colony there.

The British Crown Colony of New South Wales started with the establishment of a settlement at Port Jackson by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January 1788. This date was later to become Australia's national day, Australia Day. Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, was settled in 1803 and became a separate colony in 1825. The United Kingdom formally claimed the western part of Australia in 1829. Separate colonies were created from parts of New South Wales: South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859. The Northern Territory (NT) was founded in 1911 when it was excised from South Australia. South Australia was founded as a "free province"—that is, it was never a penal colony. Victoria and Western Australia were also founded "free", but later accepted transported convicts.[9][10] The transportation of convicts to the colony of New South Wales ceased in 1848 after a campaign by the settlers.[11]

The Indigenous Australian population, estimated at 350,000 at the time of European settlement,[12] declined steeply for 150 years following settlement, mainly because of infectious disease combined with forced re-settlement and cultural disintegration.[13] The removal of children from their families, which some historians and Indigenous Australians have argued could be considered to constitute genocide by some definitions,[14] may have contributed to the decline in the indigenous population. Such interpretations of Aboriginal history are disputed by some commentators as being exaggerated or fabricated for political or ideological reasons.[15] This debate is known within Australia as the History Wars. Following the 1967 referendum, the Federal government gained the power to implement policies and make laws with respect to Aborigines. Traditional ownership of land—native title—was not recognised until 1992, when the High Court case Mabo v Queensland (No 2) overturned the notion of Australia as terra nullius ("empty land") at the time of European occupation.

A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, and the Eureka Stockade rebellion against mining licence fees in 1854 was an early expression of civil disobedience. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained responsible government, managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the British Empire. The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign affairs, defence, and international shipping. On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation, and voting. The Commonwealth of Australia was born as a Dominion of the British Empire. The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the Australian Capital Territory) was formed from a part of New South Wales in 1911 to provide a location for the proposed new federal capital of Canberra (Melbourne was the temporary seat of government from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being constructed). The Northern Territory was transferred from the control of the South Australian government to the Commonwealth in 1911. Australia willingly participated in World War I.[16] Many Australians regard the defeat of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli as the birth of the nation—its first major military action. The Kokoda Track Campaign is regarded by many as an analogous nation-defining event during World War II.

The Statute of Westminster 1931 formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom when Australia adopted it in 1942. The shock of the United Kingdom's defeat in Asia in 1942 and the threat of Japanese invasion caused Australia to turn to the United States as a new ally and protector. Since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the US under the auspices of the ANZUS treaty. After World War II, Australia encouraged immigration from Europe; since the 1970s and the abolition of the White Australia policy, immigration from Asia and other non-European parts of the world was also encouraged. As a result, Australia's demography, culture and self-image have been radically transformed. The final constitutional ties between Australia and the UK were severed in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act 1986, ending any British role in the government of the Australian States, and ending judicial appeals to the UK Privy Council.[17] In 1999, Australian voters rejected by a majority of less than 5% a move to become a republic with a president appointed by Parliament.[18] Since the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972, there has been an increasing focus on the expansion of ties with other Pacific Rim nations.

Geography 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 US contiguous 48 states
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 25,760 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Land use: arable land: 6.15% (includes about 27 million hectares of cultivated grassland)
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 93.81% (2005)
Irrigated land: 25,450 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 398 cu km (1995)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 24.06 cu km/yr (15%/10%/75%)
per capita: 1,193 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
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, 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; the invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast, and is one of the most consistent winds in the world
Politics

The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional democracy based on a federal division of powers. The form of government used in Australia is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Australia, a role that is distinct from her position as monarch of the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented by the Governor-General at federal level and by the Governors at state level. Although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, these are normally exercised only on the advice of the Prime Minister. The most notable exercise of the Governor-General's reserve powers outside the Prime Minister's direction was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the constitutional crisis of 1975.[19]

There are three branches of government:
The legislature: the Commonwealth Parliament, comprising the Queen, the Senate, and the House of Representatives; the Queen is represented by the Governor-General, who by convention acts on the advice of his Ministers.
The executive: the Federal Executive Council (the Governor-General as advised by the Executive Councillors); in practice, the councillors are the Prime Minister and Ministers of State.
The judiciary: the High Court of Australia and other federal courts. Appeals from Australian courts to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom ceased when the Australia Act was passed in 1986.

The bicameral Commonwealth Parliament consists of the Queen, the Senate (the upper house) of 76 senators, and a House of Representatives (the lower house) of 150 members. Members of the lower house are elected from single-member constituencies, commonly known as "electorates" or "seats". Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated to states on the basis of population, with each original state guaranteed a minimum of five seats. In the Senate, each state is represented by 12 senators, and each of the territories (the ACT and the NT) by two. Elections for both chambers are held every three years; senators have overlapping six-year terms, and only half of the seats are put to each election unless the cycle is interrupted by a double dissolution. The party with majority support in the House of Representatives forms government and its leader becomes Prime Minister.

There are two major political groups that form government: the Australian Labor Party, and the Coalition which is a grouping of two parties: the Liberal Party and its minor partner, the National Party. Independent members and several minor parties—including the Greens and the Australian Democrats—have achieved representation in Australian parliaments, mostly in upper houses. Since 3 December 2007, shortly after the 2007 election, the Labor Party led by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been in power in Canberra, and the party is now in power in every parliament in the country. In the 2004 election, the previous governing Coalition led by John Howard won control of the Senate—the first time in more than 20 years that a party (or a coalition) has done so while in government. Voting is compulsory for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over, in each state and territory and at the federal level. Enrolment to vote is compulsory in all jurisdictions except South Australia.

People Population: 20,434,176 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19.3% (male 2,023,375/female 1,929,229)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 6,945,068/female 6,831,653)
65 years and over: 13.2% (male 1,197,494/female 1,507,357) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 37.1 years
male: 36.3 years
female: 38 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.824% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 12.02 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.049 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.017 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.794 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.57 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.62 years
male: 77.75 years
female: 83.63 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 14,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Australian(s)
adjective: Australian
Ethnic groups: white 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%
Religions: Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7%, none 15.3% (2001 Census)
Languages: English 79.1%, Chinese 2.1%, Italian 1.9%, other 11.1%, unspecified 5.8% (2001 Census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia
Government type: federal parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Canberra
geographic coordinates: 35 17 S, 149 13 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in October; ends last Sunday in March
note: Australia is divided into three time zones
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, Macquarie Island
Independence: 1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)
National holiday: Australia Day, 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
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 of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael JEFFERY (since 11 August 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister Kevin RUDD (since 3 December 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Julia GILLARD (since 3 December 2007)
cabinet: prime minister nominates, from among members of Parliament, candidates who are subsequently sworn in by the governor general to serve as government ministers
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general
Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the six states and 2 from each of the two mainland territories; one-half of state members are elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms while all territory members are elected every three years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members elected by popular preferential vote to serve terms of up to three-years; no state can have fewer than 5 representatives)
elections: Senate - last held 24 November 2007 (next to be held no later than 2010); House of Representatives - last held 24 November 2007 (next to be called no later than 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 37, Australian Labor Party 32, Australian Greens 5, Family First Party 1, other 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Australian Labor Party 83, Liberal Party 55, National Party 10, independents 2
Judicial branch: High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)
Political parties and leaders: Australian Democrats [Lyn ALLISON]; Australian Greens [Bob BROWN]; Australian Labor Party [Kevin RUDD]; Country Liberal Party [Jodeen CARNEY]; Family First Party [Steve FIELDING]; Liberal Party [Brendan NELSON]; The Nationals [Warren TRUSS]
International organization participation: ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNMIS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Dennis J. RICHARDSON
chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000
FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert D. McCALLUM, Jr.
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: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
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 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
Culture

Since 1788, the primary basis of Australian culture has been Anglo-Celtic, although distinctive Australian features soon arose from the country's unique environment and the pre-existing indigenous culture. Over the past 50 years, Australian culture has been strongly influenced by American popular culture (particularly television and cinema), large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking countries and Australia's Asian neighbours. The vigour and originality of the arts in Australia—literature, cinema, opera, music, painting, theatre, dance, and crafts—have achieved international recognition.

Australian visual arts have a long history, starting with the cave and bark paintings of its indigenous peoples. From the time of European settlement, a common theme in Australian art has been the Australian landscape, seen for example in the works of Arthur Streeton, Arthur Boyd, and Albert Namatjira. The traditions of indigenous Australians are largely transmitted orally and are closely tied to ceremony and the telling of the stories of the Dreamtime. Australian Aboriginal music, dance, and art have a palpable influence on contemporary Australian visual and performing arts. Australia has an active tradition of music, ballet, and theatre; many of its performing arts companies receive public funding through the federal government's Australia Council. There is a symphony orchestra in each state's capital city, and a national opera company, Opera Australia, first made prominent by the renowned diva Dame Joan Sutherland. Australian music includes classical, jazz, and many popular genres.

Australian literature has also been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson captured the experience of the Australian bush. The character of colonial Australia, as embodied in early literature, resonates with modern Australia and its perceived emphasis on egalitarianism, mateship, and anti-authoritarianism. In 1973, Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the only Australian to have achieved this; he is recognised as one of the great English-language writers of the 20th century. Australian English is a major variety of the language; its grammar and spelling are largely based on those of British English, overlaid with a rich vernacular of unique lexical items and phrases, some of which have found their way into standard English. Australian English has much less internal dialectal variation than either British or American English.

Australia has two public broadcasters (the ABC and the multicultural SBS), three commercial television networks, several pay-TV services, and numerous public, non-profit television and radio stations. Australia's film industry has achieved many critical and commercial successes. Each major city has daily newspapers, and there are two national daily newspapers, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review. According to Reporters Without Borders in 2007, Australia was in 28th position on a list of countries ranked by press freedom, behind New Zealand (15th) and the United Kingdom (24th) but ahead of the United States (48th). This low ranking is primarily because of the limited diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia;[citation needed] in particular, most Australian print media are under the control of News Corporation and John Fairfax Holdings.

Sport plays an important part in Australian culture, assisted by a climate that favours outdoor activities; 23.5% Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate in organised sporting activities.[40] At an international level, Australia has strong teams in cricket, hockey, netball, rugby league, and rugby union, and it performs well in cycling, rowing, and swimming. Nationally, other popular sports include Australian rules football, horse racing, soccer, and motor racing. Australia has participated in every summer Olympic Games of the modern era, and every Commonwealth Games. Australia hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and has ranked among the top five medal-takers since 2000. Australia has also hosted the 1938, 1962, 1982, and 2006 Commonwealth Games. Other major international events held in Australia include the Grand Slam Australian Open tennis tournament, international cricket matches, and the Formula One Australian Grand Prix. Viewing televised sport is popular; the highest-rating television programs include the summer Olympic Games and the grand finals of local and international football (various codes) competitions.

Economy Economy - overview: Australia has an enviable, strong economy with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Robust business and consumer confidence and high export prices for raw materials and agricultural products are fueling the economy, particularly in mining states. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, a housing market boom, and growing ties with China have been key factors behind the economy's 16 solid years of expansion. Drought, robust import demand, and a strong currency have pushed the trade deficit up in recent years, while infrastructure bottlenecks and a tight labor market are constraining growth in export volumes and stoking inflation. Australia's budget has been in surplus since 2002 due to strong revenue growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $766.8 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $889.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $37,500 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 25.6%
services: 70.7% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 10.9 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 21.2%
services: 75.2% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate: 4.4% (November 2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 25.4% (1994)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 30.5 (2006)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 27.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $312 billion
expenditures: $299.6 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 15.2% of GDP
note: The Commonwealth government eliminated its net debt in 2006, but continues a gross debt issue to support the market for risk-free securities. (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, cattle, sheep, poultry
Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Industrial production growth rate: 3.5% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 236.7 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 90.8%
hydro: 8.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.9% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 219.8 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 572,400 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 903,200 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 333,200 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 611,400 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 1.437 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 38.62 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 25.72 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 12.9 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 750.6 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$50.96 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $139.4 billion (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Exports - partners: Japan 19.6%, China 12.3%, South Korea 7.5%, US 6.2%, India 5.5%, NZ 5.5%, UK 5% (2006)
Imports: $152.7 billion (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
Imports - partners: China 14.4%, US 14.1%, Japan 9.6%, Singapore 6%, Germany 5.1% (2006)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $894 million (FY99/00)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $71.15 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $757.9 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $246.2 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $226.8 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $804.1 billion (2005)
Currency (code): Australian dollar (AUD)
Currency code: AUD
Exchange rates: Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004), 1.5419 (2003)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 9.94 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 19.76 million (2006)
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: country code - 61; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; the Southern Cross fiber optic submarine cable provides links to New Zealand and the United States; satellite earth stations - 19 (10 Intelsat - 4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean, 2 Inmarsat - Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, 2 Globalstar, 5 other) (2007)
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 hosts: 9.458 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 571 (2002)
Internet users: 15.3 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 461 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 317
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 138
914 to 1,523 m: 143
under 914 m: 13 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 144
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 109
under 914 m: 16 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate/gas 469 km; gas 26,719 km; liquid petroleum gas 240 km; oil 3,720 km; oil/gas/water 110 km (2007)
Railways: total: 38,550 km
broad gauge: 3,727 km 1.600-m gauge
standard gauge: 20,519 km 1.435-m gauge (1,877 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 14,074 km 1.067-m gauge (2,453 km electrified)
dual gauge: 230 km dual gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 810,641 km
paved: 336,962 km
unpaved: 473,679 km (2004)
Waterways: 2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 52 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,322,527 GRT/1,501,865 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 16, cargo 5, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 4, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 5
foreign-owned: 16 (Canada 2, France 1, Germany 2, Netherlands 2, Norway 1, Philippines 1, UK 2, US 5)
registered in other countries: 29 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Bahamas 3, Bermuda 4, Fiji 1, The Gambia 1, Liberia 2, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 4, Singapore 6, Tonga 1, UK 1, US 2, Vanuatu 2, unknown 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Brisbane, Dampier, Fremantle, Gladstone, Hay Point, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Walcott, Sydney
Military Military branches: Australian Defense Force (ADF): Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, Special Operations Command (2006)
Military service age and obligation: 16 years of age for voluntary service; women allowed to serve in Army combat units in non-combat support roles (2001)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 4,943,676
females age 18-49: 4,821,264 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 4,092,717
females age 16-49: 3,983,447 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 142,158
females age 16-49: 135,675 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.4% (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Timor-Leste and Australia agreed in 2005 to defer the disputed portion of the boundary for fifty years and to split hydrocarbon revenues evenly outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area covered by the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty; East Timor dispute hampers creation of a revised maritime boundary with Indonesia in the Timor Sea; Indonesian groups challenge Australia's claim to Ashmore and Cartier Islands; Australia closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier Reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing and placed restrictions on certain catch; regional states continue to express concern over Australia's 2004 declaration of a 1,000-nautical mile-wide maritime identification zone; Australia asserts land and maritime claims to Antarctica (see Antarctica); in 2004 Australia submitted its claims to UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its continental margins covering over 3.37 million square kilometers or roughly thirty percent of its claimed exclusive economic zone; since 2003, Australian Defense Force leads the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to maintain civil and political order and reinforce regional security
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; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines