Country Information Australia


  • Capital: Canberra
  • Areal: 7.692.030 km²
  • Population: 20.572.356 
  • Population Density: 2,7 residents per km²
  • Religion: 26,6 % Catholic, 20,7 Anglican
  • Language: English
  • Form of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
  • Climate: tropic to moderate
  • Unemployment: ca. 4,5 %

Size and Geography

Australia covers a total territory of 7.7 million km², meaning the country is almost 21 times the size of Germany. Apart from the main continent of Australia Tasmania, a few smaller islands and the Pacific Norfolk Islands, the Cocos Islands, the Christmas Islands, the Ashmore and Cartier Islands as well as the  Macquarie Islands and the Heard- and McDonald-Islands belong to  the country of the southern hemisphere as external territories.

Population

Australia is the least populated continent of the world after the Antarctica. 92% of the population lives in the cities, especially in the big urban centers at the Southeast coast, on Tasmania and in the Greater Perth area.  The center of the country is almost devoid of people. About 92% of the population is of European heritage, 7 % of Asian and only 2.4 % claim indigenous heritage. About 15% of the Caucasian population is not of British or Irish heritage. Especially immigrants from Ex-Yugoslavia, particularly Croats (105.747), Macedonians (81.898) and Serbs (97,315), but also from Greece (357.703), Italy (800.256) and Poland  (150.900) make up minorities in Australia. More than 1.3 million Australians have at least one German ancestor. Since the "white" Immigration Politics has gradually changed in the 1960ies especially immigration from Asian countries has increased. In the 90ies the population growth reached 1.4 % yearly. More than a fourth of the population was not born in the country.

Climate

Australia is temperate, most of the country receiving more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. In summer (December to March) the average temperature is 84°F (29°C). The hottest region is the northern two-thirds of the continent, which experiences humid and wet conditions in summer. Further south summer is warm with occasional hot spells and mild nights. Winter (June to August) averages 56°F (13°C) for the country as a whole, with warm days and mild nights in the northern areas, becoming cool and showery in the south (although there are still plenty of sunny days).

History

  • 50.000  60.000 years ago: Settlement by the Aborigine
  • 1606: Discovery of  the Cape York Insula by Willem Jansz
  • 1616: Dirk Hartog steps on the West coast
  • 1642: Exploration by the Dutch East India Company
  • 1642: Dicovery of Tasmania by Abel Tasman
  • 1770: James Cook reaches Australia and takes it into the possession of the Monarchy
  • 1788: first fleet with settlers and sentenced convicts arrives in Australia
  • 1788: the first settlement is called Sydney
  • 1788 - 1868: in total 160.000 convicts are banished to Australia
  • 1824: City of Brisbane is proclaimed and the name Australia is being used for the continent officially
  • 1831: the colony of West Australia is founded, Settlement in future Perth
  • 1836: Colony South Australia founded
  • 1840: first settlers reach future Queensland
  • 1841: independent colony Victoria
  • 1851: gold is found in Victoria, begin of the gold rush
  • 1859: Queensland is proclaimed independent
  • 1901: Constitution Act: Founding of the Australian Commonwealth
  • 1914: Australia supports Great Britain in WW I
  • 1939: Australia participates in WW II
  • 1945: Australia becomes member of the UN
  • 1962: Right to vote for Aborigine
  • 1986: Australia Act: Australia now totally independent

Economy and Politics

Australia is a directed economy, which was in recent years increasingly deregulated and privatized. Since the 1980s the government began to modernize Australia's economy.

After a economic downturn, Keating called him "the recession we had to have" Australia quickly recovered and has since the 1990s, one of the highest economic growth rates among the OECD countries.Unemployment dropped sharply. The Liberals under John Howard held since 1996 firmly in the liberal economic policy. The Liberals under John Howard adhere to the liberal economic policy. Critics say that this is at the expense of workers and of the socially weaker population.

Politics

The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional monarchy based on parliamentary democracy. The state is federally organized, each individual state has its own parliament with extensive power to legislate. The bicameral legislature of the Australian Parliament consists of the House of Representatives, the Senate and Queen Elizabeth as head of state. The queen, as in any Commonwealth realm, is represented by a Governor General (since 11. August 2003: Major General Michael Jeffery). The 150 members of the House of Representatives are elected every three years in the constituencies. The parliamentary seats are distributed according to the population of the states and territories. In the Senate, each state is represented by twelve senators, each of the two territories by two. The senators are elected for six years. Elections are held every three years for half of the seats in the Senate. For all elections at the federal and state level, there is a duty to vote.