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Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''superānus'', meaning "above". The roles of a sovereign va ...
country comprising the mainland of the
Australian continent The continent of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul (), Australinea, or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, consists of the landmasses which sit on Australia's continental plate. The ...
, the island of
Tasmania Tasmania (; abbreviated as Tas, nicknamed Tassie, xpz, Lutruwita; Palawa kani: ''Lutruwita'') is an island state of Australia. It is located to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main i ...
, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, ...
and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Its population of nearly million is highly
urbanised Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural to urban areas, the decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predominantly the process by wh ...
and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. Unusual am ...

Canberra
, and its largest
city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a pe ...
is
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug: ) is the capital city of the state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about on its periphery toward ...

Sydney
. The country's other major
metropolitan areas A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories under the same administrative division, sharing industry, infrastructure and housing. A metro area usually comp ...
are
Melbourne Melbourne ( ; wyi, Naarm) is the capital and most-populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of , comprising a metropolitan area with ...
,
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital of and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.6 million, and it lies at the centr ...
,
Perth Perth () is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 million living in Greater Perth in 2018. Perth is part of the South West Land Divi ...
, and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city of the state of South Australia, and the fifth-most populous city of Australia. The demonym is used to denote the city and the residents of Adelaide. Adelaide is situated on the Adelaide Plains north of the Fl ...

Adelaide
.
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia before British colonisation. They include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. The term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander p ...
inhabited the continent for about 65,000 years prior to the first arrival of
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * D ...
explorers in the early 17th century, who named it New Holland. In 1770, Australia's eastern half was claimed by
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The isl ...
and initially
settled A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. A settler who migrates to an area previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited may be described as a pioneer. Settlers ...
through
penal transportation Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony, for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their de ...
to the colony of
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state on the east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Coral and Tasman Seas to the east. The Australian ...
from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's
national day#REDIRECT National day#REDIRECT National day {{Rcat shell, {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Rcat shell, {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...
. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the time of an 1850s
gold rush cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 Gold Rush. A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare-earth minerals—that brings an o ...
, most of the continent had been explored by European settlers and an additional five self-governing
crown colonies Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony administered by the Government of the United Kingdom (the Crown). There was usually a Governor, appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the ''Home'' (UK) Government, with or ...
established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable
liberal democratic Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is a political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of liberalism. It is characterised by elections between multiple distinct ...
political system that functions as a
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance of a state (or subordinate entity) where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the confidence of the legislature, typi ...
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch holds absolute ...
, comprising six states and ten territories. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile
soil Soil (often stylized as SOiL) is an American rock band that was formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1997. After some independent releases, the band was the first rock group signed to J Records and achieved mainstream success with their major label debut ...
s. It has a landmass of . A
megadiverse country
megadiverse country
, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with
deserts upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for ...
in the centre, tropical
rainforests Rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the ...
in the north-east, and
mountain ranges#REDIRECT Mountain range {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
in the south-east. Australia generates its income from various sources, including mining-related exports,
telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication over a distance greater than that feasi ...
,
banking A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans. Lending activities can be directly performed by the bank or indirectly through capital markets. Because b ...
,
manufacturing Manufacturing is the production of goods through the use of labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation. It is the essence of secondary sector of the economy. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from h ...
, and
international education#REDIRECT International education ...
. Australia is a
developed country 450px, Classifications by the IMF and the UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed country (MDC), or more economically developed country (MEDC), is a sovereign state that has a high q ...
, with the world's thirteenth-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income. It is considered a
regional power In international relations since the late 20th century, a regional power is a term used for a state that has power within a geographic region.Joachim Betz, Ian Taylor"The Rise of (New) Regional Powers in Asia, Africa, Latin America..." German Ov ...
and has the world's thirteenth-highest military expenditure.
Immigrants Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle as permanent residents or naturalized citizens. Commuters, tourists, and ot ...
account for 30% of the population, the highest proportion in any country with a population over 10 million. The country ranks highly in measures of health, education,
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debates as well as in the philosophy of economics. One approach to economic freedom comes from the lib ...
, and
civil liberties#REDIRECT Civil liberties#REDIRECT Civil liberties {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
. Australia is a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
, G20,
Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates ...

Commonwealth of Nations
,
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security non-binding agreement between Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States, to co-operate on military ...
,
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to sti ...

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD),
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. It officially commenced operations on 1 January 1995, pursuant to the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, thus rep ...
,
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC; ) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
,
Pacific Islands Forum The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental organization that aims to enhance cooperation between countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean, including formation of a trade bloc and regional peacekeeping operations. It was founde ...
, and the ASEAN Plus Six.


Etymology

The name ''Australia'' (pronounced in
Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the first language of the major ...
) is derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
''
Terra Australis Terra Australis (Latin for ''South Land'') was a hypothetical continent first posited in antiquity and which appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. The existence of Terra Australis was not based on any survey or direct observatio ...
'' ("southern land"), a name used for a hypothetical continent in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere) of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents (Antarctica, Australia, about 90% of South America, one third of Africa, and several islands off the continenta ...
since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name ''Terra Australis'' was naturally applied to the new territories. Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as " New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer
Abel Tasman Abel Janszoon Tasman (; 160310 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach the is ...
in 1644 (as ''Nieuw-Holland'') and subsequently anglicised. ''Terra Australis'' still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts. The name ''Australia'' was popularised by the explorer
Matthew Flinders Captain Matthew Flinders (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was an English navigator and cartographer who led the first inshore circumnavigation of the landmass that is now known as Australia. He is also credited as being the first person to util ...
, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the Earth". Several famous early cartographers also made use of the word Australia on maps.
Gerardus Mercator Gerardus Mercator (; 5 March 1512 – 2 December 1594) was a 16th-century geographer, cosmographer and cartographer from the County of Flanders. He is most renowned for creating the 1569 world map based on a new projection which represented saili ...

Gerardus Mercator
used the phrase ''climata '' on his double cordiform map of the world of 1538, as did
Gemma Frisius Gemma Frisius (; born Jemme Reinerszoon; December 9, 1508 – May 25, 1555) was a Dutch physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day an ...
, who was Mercator's teacher and collaborator, on his own cordiform wall map in 1540. Australia appears in a book on astronomy by Cyriaco Jacob zum Barth published in Frankfurt am Main in 1545. The first time that ''Australia'' appears to have been officially used was in April 1817, when Governor
Lachlan Macquarie Major General Lachlan Macquarie, CB (; gd, Lachann MacGuaire; 31 January 1762 – 1 July 1824) was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. Macquarie served as the fifth and last autocratic Governor of New South Wales from ...
acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the
Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a government department of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the United Kingdom, first created to deal with the colonial affairs of British North America but needed also to oversee the increasing number of colonies ...
that it be formally adopted. In 1824, the
Admiralty Admiralty usually refers to: *Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral *Admiralty law Admiralty can also refer to: Buildings *Admiralty, Trafalgar Square, a pub in Lond ...
agreed that the continent should be known officially by that name. The first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of ''The Australia Directory'' by the
Hydrographic Office__NOTOC__ , the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) comprises 93 member states, four of which are suspended because of their lapsed annual financial contribution. The IHO identifies its representative member organisations as the respe ...
. Colloquial names for Australia include " Oz" and "the Land Down Under" (usually shortened to just "
Down Under The term ''Down Under'' is a colloquialism which is variously construed to refer to Australia and New Zealand. The term comes from the fact that these countries are in the Southern Hemisphere, "below" almost all other countries, on the usual arra ...
"). Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", " the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", and "the Wide Brown Land". The latter two both derive from
Dorothea Mackellar ''Dunara'', Mackellar's childhood home in Point Piper Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar (better known as Dorothea Mackellar), (1 July 1885 – 14 January 1968) was an Australian poet and fiction writer. Her poem ''My Country'' is widely known ...

Dorothea Mackellar
's 1908 poem "
My Country Mackellar's notebook with first two verses "My Country" is a poem about Australia, written by Dorothea Mackellar (1885–1968) at the age of 19 while homesick in the United Kingdom. After travelling through Europe extensively with her father ...
".


History


Prehistory

Human habitation of the Australian continent is known to have begun at least 65,000 years ago, with the migration of people by
land bridge 300px, The Isthmus of Panama is a land bridge whose appearance 3 million years ago allowed the Great American Interchange ">Great American Interchange">Panama is a land bridge whose appearance 3 million years ago allowed the Great American Inter ...
s and short sea-crossings from what is now
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions that are geographically south of China, east of the Indian subcontinent and north-west of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north b ...

Southeast Asia
. The
Madjedbebe Madjedbebe (formerly known as Malakunanja II) is a sandstone rock shelter in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia, said to be the site of the oldest evidence of human habitation in the country. It is located about from the coas ...
rock shelter in
Arnhem Land Arnhem Land is a historical region of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around from the territory capital, Darwin. In 1623, Dutch East India Company captain Willem Joosten van C ...
is recognised as the oldest site showing the presence of humans in Australia. The oldest human remains found are the
Lake Mungo remains The Lake Mungo remains are three prominent sets of human remains that are possibly Aboriginal Australian: Lake Mungo 1 (also called Mungo Woman, LM1, and ANU-618), Lake Mungo 3 (also called Mungo Man, Lake Mungo III, and LM3), and Lake Mungo 2 ...
, which have been dated to around 41,000 years ago. These people were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Australian mainland and many of its islands, such as Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt, but excluding the Torres Strait Islands. T ...
culture is one of the oldest continual cultures on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 71% is covered with water, mostly by oceans, seas, gulfs, an ...
. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals). Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on dome ...
s with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained.1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2002
Australian Bureau of Statistics The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the independent statutory agency of the Australian Government responsible for statistical collection and analysis, and for giving evidence-based advice to federal, state and territory governments ...
25 January 2002
Indigenous Australians have an
oral culture Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved, and transmitted orally from one generation to another.Vansina, Jan: ''Oral Tradition as History'' (1985), ...
with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the
Dreamtime The Dreaming, also referred to as Dreamtime, is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Gillen, quickly adopted by his collea ...
. The
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are often grouped with them ...
, ethnically
Melanesia Melanesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It extends from the island of New Guinea in the west to Tonga in the east, and includes the Arafura Sea. The region includes the four independent countries of Fiji, V ...

Melanesia
n, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited sporadically by
Makassan Makassar () is the capital of the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi. It is the largest city in the region of Eastern Indonesia and the country's fifth-largest urban center after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Medan.Ministry of Internal Affa ...
fishermen from what is now
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of more than seventeen thousand islands, including Sumatra, ...

Indonesia
.


European arrival

The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent, are attributed to the
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * D ...
. The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the ''
Duyfken ''Duyfken'' (; Little Dove), also in the form ''Duifje'' or spelled ''Duifken'' or ''Duijfken'', was a small ship built in the Dutch Republic. She was a fast, lightly armed ship probably intended for shallow water, small valuable cargoes, bring ...
'' captained by Dutch navigator,
Willem Janszoon Willem Janszoon (; ), sometimes abbreviated to Willem Jansz., was a Dutch navigator and colonial governor. Janszoon served in the Dutch East Indies in the periods 16031611 and 16121616, including as governor of Fort Henricus on the island of Solo ...
. He sighted the coast of
Cape York Peninsula Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia.Mittermeier, R.E. et al. (2002). Wilderness: Earth’s last wild places. Mexico City: Agrupa ...
in early 1606, and made landfall on 26 February 1606 at the
Pennefather River The Pennefather River is a river located on the western Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, Australia. Location and features Formed by the confluence of a series of waterways including the Fish Creek in the Port Musgrave Aggregation es ...
near the modern town of
Weipa Weipa is a coastal mining town in the local government area of Weipa Town in Queensland, Australia. It is the largest town on the Cape York Peninsula. It exists because of the enormous bauxite deposits along the coast. The ''Port of Weipa'' is ...
on Cape York. Later that year, Spanish explorer
Luís Vaz de Torres Luís Vaz de Torres (Galician and Portuguese), or Luis Váez de Torres in the Spanish spelling (born c. 1565; fl. 1607), was a 16th- and 17th-century maritime explorer of a Spanish expedition noted for the first recorded European navigation of th ...
sailed through, and navigated,
Torres Strait The Torres Strait () is a strait between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost extremity of the Australian mainland. To the north is the Wes ...

Torres Strait
islands. The Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines and named the island continent "New Holland" during the 17th century, and although no attempt at settlement was made, a number of shipwrecks left men either stranded or, as in the case of the '' Batavia'' in 1629, marooned for mutiny and murder, thus becoming the first Europeans to permanently inhabit the continent.
William Dampier William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651; died March 1715) was an English explorer, pirate, privateer, navigator, and naturalist who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnaviga ...
, an English explorer and privateer, landed on the north-west coast of New Holland in 1688 (while serving as a crewman under pirate Captain John Read) and again in 1699 on a return trip. In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain. With the loss of its American colonies in 1783, the British Government sent a fleet of ships, the "
First Fleet The First Fleet comprised the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787 to New South Wales, the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The First Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, thre ...
", under the command of Captain
Arthur Phillip Admiral Arthur Phillip (11 October 1738 – 31 August 1814) was an English Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who led the British settlement and colonisation of Australia. He established a British penal colony that later ...
, to establish a new
penal colony A penal colony or exile colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Although the term can be used to refer to a ...
in New South Wales. A camp was set up and the
Union flag The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom. Though no law has been passed officially making the Union Jack the national flag of the United Kingdom, it has effectively become the national flag through prec ...
raised at
Sydney Cove Sydney Cove (Aboriginal: ''Warrane'') is a bay on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, one of several harbours in Port Jackson, on the coast of Sydney, New South Wales. Sydney Cove is a focal point for community celebrations, due to its centra ...
,
Port Jackson Port Jackson, consisting of the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour, North Harbour and the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, is the ria or natural harbour of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The harbour is an inlet of the Tasman Sea (pa ...
, on 26 January 1788, a date which later became Australia's national day,
Australia Day Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. Observed annually on 26 January, it marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and raising of the Union Flag by Arthur Phillip following days of exploration of Port Jackson ...
. Most early
convicts A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison". Convicts are often also known as "prisoners" or "inmates" or by the slang term "con", while a common label for former convicts, e ...
were
transported ''Transported'' is an Australian convict melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It is considered a lost film. Plot In England, Jessie Grey is about to marry Leonard Lincoln but the evil Harold Hawk tries to force her to marry him and she woun ...
for petty crimes and assigned as labourers or servants upon arrival. While the majority settled into colonial society once emancipated, convict rebellions and uprisings were also staged, but invariably suppressed under martial law. The 1808
Rum Rebellion The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was a coup d'état in the then-British penal colony of New South Wales, staged by the New South Wales Corps in order to depose Governor William Bligh. Australia's first and only military coup, it is named after early S ...

Rum Rebellion
, the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia, instigated a two-year period of military rule. The indigenous population declined for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease. Thousands more died as a result of frontier conflict with settlers. A government policy of "assimilation" beginning with the ''
Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 The ''Aboriginal Protection Act 1869'' was an Act of the colony of Victoria, Australia that established the Victorian Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines, to replace the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigi ...
'' resulted in the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families and communities—referred to as the
Stolen Generations The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen Children) were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian federal and state government agencies and church missio ...
— a practice which also contributed to the decline in the indigenous population. As a result of the
1967 referendum The 1967 Australian referendum occurred on 27 May 1967 under the Holt Government. It contained three topics asked about in two questions, regarding the passage of two bills to alter the Australian Constitution. The first question (''Constitution ...
, the Federal government's power to enact special laws with respect to a particular race was extended to enable the making of laws with respect to Aboriginals. Traditional ownership of land ("
native title Aboriginal title is a common law doctrine that the land rights of indigenous peoples to customary tenure persist after the assumption of sovereignty under settler colonialism. The requirements of proof for the recognition of aboriginal title, the ...
") was not recognised in law until 1992, when the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and t ...

High Court of Australia
held in ''
Mabo v Queensland (No 2)''Mabo v Queensland'' may refer to: * ''Mabo v Queensland (No 1)'', decided 8 December 1988, overturned the ''Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985'' as incompatible with the ''Racial Discrimination Act 1975'' * ''Mabo v Queensland (No 2)
'' that the legal doctrine that Australia had been ''
terra nullius ''Terra nullius'' (, plural ''terrae nullius'') is a Latin expression meaning "nobody's land". It was a principle sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state's occupation of it. History Ma ...
'' ("land belonging to no one") did not apply to Australia at the time of British settlement.


Colonial expansion

The expansion of British control over other areas of the continent began in the early 19th century, initially confined to coastal regions. A settlement was established in
Van Diemen's Land Van Diemen's Land was the name of the British crown colony and a name for the island of Tasmania. The name of the colony was changed to Tasmania in 1856. History Exploration The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first known European to lan ...
(present-day
Tasmania Tasmania (; abbreviated as Tas, nicknamed Tassie, xpz, Lutruwita; Palawa kani: ''Lutruwita'') is an island state of Australia. It is located to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main i ...
) in 1803, and it became a separate colony in 1825. In 1813,
Gregory Blaxland Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778 – 1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted especially for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers. Early life Gre ...

Gregory Blaxland
, William Lawson and
William Wentworth William Charles Wentworth (13 August 179020 March 1872) was an Australian explorer, journalist, politician and author, and one of the leading figures of early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native-born Australian to achieve a reputati ...

William Wentworth
crossed the Blue Mountains west of
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug: ) is the capital city of the state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about on its periphery toward ...

Sydney
, opening the interior to European settlement. The British claim was extended to the whole Australian continent in 1827 when Major
Edmund Lockyer Edmund Lockyer, (21 January 1784 – 10 June 1860) was a British soldier and explorer of Australia. Born in Plymouth, Devon, Lockyer was the son of Thomas Lockyer, a sailmaker, and his wife Ann, ''née Grose''. Lockyer began his army career as ...
established a settlement on
King George Sound King George Sound is the name of a sound on the south coast of Western Australia. Originally named King George the Third's Sound, it was referred to as King George's Sound from 1805 (Sydney Gazette 13/10/1805). The name "King George Sound" gradua ...
(modern-day Albany). The
Swan River Colony The Swan River Colony, also known as the Swan River Settlement, or just Swan River, was a British colony established in 1829 on the Swan River, in Western Australia. This initial settlement place on the Swan River was soon named Perth, and it bec ...
(present-day
Perth Perth () is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 million living in Greater Perth in 2018. Perth is part of the South West Land Divi ...
) was established in 1829, evolving into the largest Australian colony by area,
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northe ...
. In accordance with population growth, separate colonies were carved from parts of New South Wales:
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, a ...
in 1836,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of . New Zealand ...
in 1841, Victoria in 1851, and
Queensland Queensland ( ,) is a state situated in northeastern Australia, and is the second-largest and third-most populous Australian state. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south r ...
in 1859. The
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. Northern Territory shares its borders with Western Australia to the west (129th merid ...
was excised from South Australia in 1911. South Australia was founded as a "free province" — it was never a penal colony. Western Australia was also founded "free" but later accepted transported convicts, the last of which arrived in 1868, decades after transportation had ceased to the other colonies. In the mid-19th century, explorers such as
Burke and Wills#REDIRECT Burke and Wills expedition {{R from other capitalisation ...
went further inland to determine its agricultural potential and answer scientific questions. A series of gold rushes beginning in the early 1850s led to an influx of new migrants from
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million m ...
,
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
and
continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent, – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and, by some, s ...
, and also spurred outbreaks of bushranging and civil unrest; the latter peaked in 1854 when
Ballarat Ballarat () is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. In 2018, Ballarat had a population of 105,471, making it the third-largest city in both Victoria and inland Australia. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018. Within ...
miners launched the
Eureka Rebellion The Eureka Rebellion occurred in 1854, instigated by gold miners in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, who revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. It culminated in the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, which was fought between ...
against gold license fees. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained
responsible government Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments (the equivalent of the executive branch ...
, managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the
British Empire#REDIRECT British Empire#REDIRECT British Empire {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
. The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign affairs and defence.


Nationhood

On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation and voting. After the
1907 Imperial Conference The 1907 Imperial Conference was convened in London on 15 April 1907 as the 1907 Colonial Conference and concluded on 14 May 1907. During the sessions a resolution was passed renaming this and future meetings Imperial Conferences. The chairman of ...
, Australia and the other self-governing British colonies were given the status of "
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free St ...
" within the British Empire. The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. It is located in the south-ea ...
) was formed in 1911 as the location for the future federal capital of Canberra.
Melbourne Melbourne ( ; wyi, Naarm) is the capital and most-populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of , comprising a metropolitan area with ...
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 federal parliament in 1911. Australia became the colonial ruler of the
Territory of Papua The Territory of Papua comprised the southeastern quarter of the island of New Guinea from 1883 to 1975. In 1883, the Government of Queensland annexed this territory for the British Empire. The United Kingdom Government refused to ratify the an ...

Territory of Papua
(which had initially been annexed by Queensland in 1883) in 1902 and of the
Territory of New Guinea The Territory of New Guinea was an Australian-administered territory on the island of New Guinea from 1914 until 1975. In 1949, the Territory and the Territory of Papua were established in an administrative union by the name of the Territory of ...
(formerly
German New Guinea German New Guinea (german: link=no, Deutsch-Neuguinea) consisted of the northeastern part of the island of New Guinea and several nearby island groups and was the first part of the German colonial empire. The mainland part of the territory, call ...
) in 1920. The two were unified as the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea The Territory of Papua and New Guinea was established by an administrative union between the Australian-administered territories of Papua and New Guinea in 1949. In December 1971, the name of the Territory changed to "Papua New Guinea" and in 1 ...
in 1949 and gained independence from Australia in 1975. In 1914, Australia joined Britain in fighting World War I, with support from both the outgoing
Commonwealth Liberal Party The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Party, The Fusion, or the Deakinite Liberal Party) was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a ...
and the incoming
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two major parties in Australian politics, along with the centre-right Liberal Party of Aus ...
. Australians took part in many of the major battles fought on the Western Front. Of about 416,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 152,000 were wounded. Many Australians regard the defeat of the
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It was formed in Egypt in December 1914, and operated during the Gallipoli campaign. General William Birdwood commanded ...
(ANZACs) at
Gallipoli The Gallipoli peninsula (; tr, Gelibolu Yarımadası; gr, Χερσόνησος της Καλλίπολης, ''Chersónisos tis Kallípolis'') is located in the southern part of East Thrace, the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to th ...
as the birth of the nation — its first major military action. The
Kokoda Track campaign The Kokoda Track campaign or Kokoda Trail campaign was part of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 in what was then the Australian Territory of Papua. It was primaril ...
is regarded by many as an analogous nation-defining event during World War II. Britain's
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that sets the basis for the relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Statute, established the legislative indep ...
formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
. Australia adopted it in 1942, but it was backdated to 1939 to confirm the validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing milit ...
. The shock of Britain's defeat in Asia in 1942, followed soon after by the
bombing of Darwin The Bombing of Darwin, also known as the Battle of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town, ships in D ...
and other Japanese attacks, led to a widespread belief in Australia that an invasion was imminent, and a shift towards the United States as a new ally and protector. Since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
, under the
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security non-binding agreement between Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States, to co-operate on military ...
treaty. After World War II, Australia encouraged immigration from mainland
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
. Since the 1970s and following the abolition of the
White Australia policy The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical racial policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigrating to Australia, starting in 1901. Subsequen ...
, immigration from
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
and elsewhere was also promoted. As a result, Australia's demography, culture, and self-image were transformed. The ''
Australia Act 1986 The Australia Act 1986 is the short title of each of a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth (i.e. federal) Parliament of Australia, the other an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In Aus ...

Australia Act 1986
'' severed the remaining constitutional ties between Australia and the United Kingdom. In a 1999 referendum, 55% of voters and a majority in every state rejected a proposal to become a
republic A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is a form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public matter", not the private concern ...
with a president appointed by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of the Australian Parliament. There has been an increasing focus in foreign policy on ties with other
Pacific Rim The Pacific Rim comprises the lands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean. The ''Pacific Basin'' includes the Pacific Rim and the islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Rim roughly overlaps with the geologic Pacific Ring of Fire. List of coun ...
nations while maintaining close ties with Australia's traditional allies and trading partners.


Geography and environment


General characteristics

Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and
Timor Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor on the eastern part and Indonesia on the western part. The Indonesian part, also k ...

Timor
seas, with the
Coral Sea The Coral Sea () is a marginal sea of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia, and classified as an interim Australian bioregion. The Coral Sea extends down the Australian northeast coast. The sea was the location for the Battl ...

Coral Sea
lying off the Queensland coast, and the
Tasman Sea The Tasman Sea (Māori: ''Te Tai-o-Rehua'', ) is a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand. It measures about across and about from north to south. The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel ...

Tasman Sea
lying between Australia and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of . New Zealand ...
. The world's smallest continent "Most people recognize seven continents —
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
,
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
,
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be described as a southern subcontinent of the Americas. The ref ...
,
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oce ...

Antarctica
,
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
, and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixt ...

Australia
, from largest to smallest — although sometimes Europe and Asia are considered a single continent,
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to th ...
".
and sixth largest country by total area, "Smallest continent and sixth largest country (in area) on Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans". Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the "island continent" and is sometimes considered the world's largest island. Australia has of coastline (excluding all offshore islands), and claims an extensive
Exclusive Economic Zone#REDIRECT Exclusive economic zone#REDIRECT Exclusive economic zone {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
of . This exclusive economic zone does not include the
Australian Antarctic Territory The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of East Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of the Environment and Energy. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby Land m ...
. Mainland Australia lies between latitudes and 44° South, and longitudes 112° and 154° East. Australia's size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with tropical
rainforest Rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the ...
s in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and desert in the centre. The desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the
outback The Outback is a vast, sparsely populated area of Australia. The Outback is more remote than the bush, which includes any location outside the main urban areas. While often envisaged as being arid, the Outback regions extend from the northern t ...
makes up by far the largest portion of land. Australia is the driest inhabited continent; its annual rainfall averaged over continental area is less than 500 mm. The
population density#REDIRECT Population density#REDIRECT Population density {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
is 3.2 inhabitants per square kilometre, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline. The
Great Barrier Reef The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over over an area of approximately . The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Aus ...

Great Barrier Reef
, the world's largest coral reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast and extends for over . Mount Augustus, claimed to be the world's largest monolith, is located in Western Australia. At ,
Mount Kosciuszko Mount Kosciuszko ( ; Ngarigo: , ), previously spelled Mount Kosciusko, is mainland Australia's highest mountain, at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. It is located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park ...
is the highest mountain on the Australian mainland. Even taller are
Mawson Peak Mawson Peak is an active volcanic summit of the Big Ben massif on Heard Island, an external Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. With an elevation of , it is the third highest peak in any state or territory of Australia, higher than the ...
(at ), on the remote Australian external territory of
Heard Island The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is an Australian external territory comprising a volcanic group of mostly barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. The group's overall size is ...
, and, in the Australian Antarctic Territory,
Mount McClintock Mount McClintock is the highest mountain (3,490 m / 11,456 ft) in the Britannia Range in Antarctica, surmounting the south end of Forbes Ridge, east of Mount Olympus. It was discovered by the ''Discovery'' expedition (1901–04) and named fo ...
and Mount Menzies, at and respectively. Eastern Australia is marked by the
Great Dividing Range The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the fifth longest land-based range in the world. It runs roughly parallel to the East Coast of Australia and stretches more than from Dauan ...
, which runs parallel to the coast of
Queensland Queensland ( ,) is a state situated in northeastern Australia, and is the second-largest and third-most populous Australian state. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south r ...
,
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state on the east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Coral and Tasman Seas to the east. The Australian ...
and much of Victoria. The name is not strictly accurate, because parts of the range consist of low hills, and the highlands are typically no more than in height. The coastal uplands and a belt of Brigalow grasslands lie between the coast and the mountains, while inland of the dividing range are large areas of grassland and shrubland. These include the western plains of New South Wales, and the
Mitchell Grass Downs The Mitchell Grass Downs is a tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion in northeastern Australia. It is a mostly treeless grassland, characterised by Mitchell grasses (''Astrebla'' spp.). Location and description ...
and
Mulga Lands The Mulga Lands are an interim Australian bioregion of eastern Australia consisting of dry sandy plains with low mulga woodlands and shrublands that are dominated by ''Acacia aneura'' (mulga). The Eastern Australia mulga shrublands ecoregion is c ...
of inland Queensland. The northernmost point of the mainland is the tropical
Cape York Peninsula Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia.Mittermeier, R.E. et al. (2002). Wilderness: Earth’s last wild places. Mexico City: Agrupa ...
. The landscapes of the Top End and the Gulf Country—with their tropical climate—include forest, woodland, wetland, grassland,
rainforest Rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the ...
and desert. At the north-west corner of the continent are the sandstone cliffs and gorges of Kimberley (Western Australia), The Kimberley, and below that the Pilbara. The Victoria Plains tropical savanna lies south of the Kimberley tropical savanna, Kimberly and Arnhem Land tropical savanna, Arnhem Land savannas, forming a transition between the coastal savannas and the interior deserts. At the heart of the country are the Central Ranges xeric scrub, uplands of central Australia. Prominent features of the centre and south include Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), the famous sandstone monolith, and the inland Simpson Desert, Simpson, Tirari-Sturt stony desert, Tirari and Sturt Stony, Gibson Desert, Gibson, Great Sandy-Tanami desert, Great Sandy, Tanami, and Great Victoria Desert, Great Victoria deserts, with the famous Nullarbor Plain on the southern coast. The Western Australian mulga shrublands lie between the interior deserts and Mediterranean-climate Southwest Australia (ecoregion), Southwest Australia.


Geology

Lying on the Indo-Australian Plate, the Australian mainland, mainland of Australia is the lowest and most primordial landmass on Earth with a relatively stable geological history. The landmass includes virtually all known list of rock types , rock types and from all geological time periods spanning over 3.8 billion years of the History of Earth, Earth's history. The Pilbara Craton is one of only two pristine Archean, Archaean 3.6–2.7 Ga (billion years ago) crusts identified on the Earth. Having been part of all major supercontinents, the
Australian continent The continent of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul (), Australinea, or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, consists of the landmasses which sit on Australia's continental plate. The ...
began to form after the breakup of Gondwana in the Permian, with the separation of the continental landmass from the
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
n continent and Indian subcontinent. It separated from
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oce ...

Antarctica
over a prolonged period beginning in the Permian and continuing through to the Cretaceous. When the last glacial period ended in about 10,000 BC, rising sea levels formed Bass Strait, separating
Tasmania Tasmania (; abbreviated as Tas, nicknamed Tassie, xpz, Lutruwita; Palawa kani: ''Lutruwita'') is an island state of Australia. It is located to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main i ...
from the mainland. Then between about 8,000 and 6,500 BC, the lowlands in the north were flooded by the sea, separating New Guinea, the Aru Islands, and the mainland of Australia. The Australian continent is moving toward
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to th ...
at the rate of 6 to 7 centimetres a year. The Australian mainland's continental crust, excluding the thinned margins, has an average thickness of 38km, with a range in thickness from 24 km to 59 km. Australia's geology can be divided into several main sections, showcasing that the continent grew from west to east: the Archaean cratonic shields found mostly in the west, Proterozoic orogeny, fold belts in the centre and Phanerozoic sedimentary basins, metamorphic and igneous rocks in the east. The Australian mainland and Tasmania are situated in the middle of the tectonic plate and have no active volcanoes, but due to passing over the East Australia hotspot, recent volcanism has occurred during the Holocene, in the Newer Volcanics Province of western Victoria and southeastern South Australia. Volcanism also occurs in the island of New Guinea (considered geologically as part of the Australian continent), and in the Australian external territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. List of earthquakes in Australia, Seismic activity in the Australian mainland and Tasmania is also low, with the greatest number of fatalities having occurred in the 1989 Newcastle earthquake.


Climate

The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, which is correlated with periodic Drought in Australia , drought, and the seasonal tropical low-pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia. These factors cause rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical, predominantly summer-rainfall (monsoon). The Southwest corner of Western Australia, south-west corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate. The south-east ranges from oceanic climate, oceanic (Tasmania and coastal Victoria) to humid subtropical (upper half of New South Wales), with the highlands featuring alpine climate, alpine and subpolar oceanic climates. The interior is arid to semi-arid. Driven by climate change, average temperatures have risen Climate change in Australia, more than 1°C since 1960. Associated changes in rainfall patterns and climate extremes exacerbate existing issues such as drought and Bushfires in Australia, bushfires. 2019 was Australia's warmest recorded year, and the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, 2019–2020 bushfire season was the country's worst List of Australian bushfire seasons, on record. Greenhouse gas emissions by Australia, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita, highest in the world. Water restrictions in Australia, Water restrictions are frequently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localised drought. Throughout much of the continent, Floods in Australia, major flooding regularly follows extended periods of drought, flushing out inland river systems, overflowing dams and inundating large inland flood plains, as occurred throughout Eastern Australia in the early 2010s after the 2000s Australian drought.


Biodiversity

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, the continent includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine climate, alpine heaths to tropical rainforests. Fungi typify that diversity—an estimated 250,000 species—of which only 5% have been described—occur in Australia. Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota (ecology) , biota is unique. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of List of birds of Australia, birds, and 89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemism, endemic. Australia has at least 755 species of reptile, more than any other country in the world. Besides Antarctica, Australia is the only continent that developed without Felidae, feline species. Feral cats may have been introduced in the 17th century by Dutch shipwrecks, and later in the 18th century by European settlers. They are now considered a major factor in the decline and extinction of many vulnerable and endangered native species. Australia is also one of 17 megadiverse countries. Forests of Australia, Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions; Acacia, wattles replace them as the dominant species in drier regions and deserts. Among well-known fauna of Australia, Australian animals are the monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra. Australia is home to Animal attacks in Australia, many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world. The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 Common Era, BCE. Many animal and plant species became extinct soon after first human settlement, including the Australian megafauna; others have disappeared since European settlement, among them the thylacine. Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and Invasive species in Australia, introduced animal, chromistan, fungal and plant species. All these factors have led to Australia's having the highest mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. The federal ''Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999'' is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species. Numerous Protected areas of Australia, protected areas have been created under the Biodiversity action plan, National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity to protect and preserve unique ecosystems; 65 wetlands are List of Ramsar sites in Australia, listed under the Ramsar Convention, and 16 natural World Heritage Sites have been established. Australia was ranked 21st out of 178 countries in the world on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. There are more than 1,800 animals and plants on Australia's threatened species list, including more than 500 animals.


Government and politics

Australia is a federalism, federal parliamentary system, parliamentary
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch holds absolute ...
. The country has maintained a stable liberal democracy, liberal democratic political system under its Constitution of Australia, constitution, which is List of national constitutions, one of the world's oldest, since Federation of Australia, Federation in 1901. It is also one of the world's oldest federations, in which power is divided between the Government of Australia, federal and States and territories of Australia, state and territorial governments. The Australian system of government combines elements derived from the political systems of the Westminster system, United Kingdom (a Fusion of powers, fused executive,
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch holds absolute ...
and strong party discipline) and the United States Government, United States (federalism, a written constitution and bicameralism, strong bicameralism with an elected upper house), along with distinctive indigenous features. The federal government is Separation of powers in Australia, separated into three branches: * Legislature: the bicameral Parliament of Australia, Parliament, comprising the Monarchy of Australia, monarch (represented by the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general), the Australian Senate, Senate, and the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives; * Executive: the Federal Executive Council (Australia), Federal Executive Council, which in practice gives legal effect to the decisions of the Cabinet of Australia, cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister and other ministers of state appointed by the governor-general on the advice of Parliament; * Judiciary: the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and t ...

High Court of Australia
and other Australian court hierarchy, federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the governor-general on advice of Parliament Elizabeth II reigns as Queen of Australia and is represented in Australia by the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general at the federal level and by the Governors of the Australian states , governors at the state level, who by convention act on the advice of her ministers. Thus, in practice the governor-general acts as a legal figurehead for the actions of the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister and the Federal Executive Council (Australia), Federal Executive Council. The governor-general does have extraordinary reserve powers which may be exercised outside the prime minister's request in rare and limited circumstances, the most notable exercise of which was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, constitutional crisis of 1975. In the Senate (the upper house), there are 76 senators: twelve each from the states and two each from the mainland territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). The Australian House of Representatives , House of Representatives (the lower house) has 151 members elected from single-member Divisions of the Australian House of Representatives, electoral divisions, commonly known as "electorates" or "seats", allocated to states on the basis of population, with each original state guaranteed a minimum of five seats. Elections for both chambers are normally held every three years simultaneously; senators have overlapping six-year terms except for those from the territories, whose terms are not fixed but are tied to the electoral cycle for the lower house; thus only 40 of the 76 places in the Senate are put to each election unless the cycle is interrupted by a double dissolution. Australia's electoral system of Australia, electoral system uses Instant-runoff voting, preferential voting for all lower house elections with the exception of Tasmania and the ACT which, along with the Senate and most state upper houses, combine it with proportional representation in a system known as the single transferable vote. Compulsory voting, Voting is compulsory for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over in every jurisdiction, as is enrolment. The party with majority support in the House of Representatives forms the government and its leader becomes Prime Minister. In cases where no party has majority support, the Governor-General has the constitutional power to appoint the Prime Minister and, if necessary, dismiss one that has lost the confidence of Parliament. There are two major political groups that usually form government, federally and in the states: the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two major parties in Australian politics, along with the centre-right Liberal Party of Aus ...
and the Coalition (Australia), Coalition which is a formal grouping of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party and its minor partner, the National Party of Australia, National Party. Within Australian political culture, the Coalition is considered centre-right and the Labor Party is considered centre-left. Independent members and several minor parties have achieved representation in Australian parliaments, mostly in upper houses. The Australian Greens are often considered the "third force" in politics, being the third largest party by both vote and membership. The 2019 Australian federal election, most recent federal election was held on 18 May 2019 and resulted in the Coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, retaining Government of Australia , government.


States and territories

Australia has six states —
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state on the east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Coral and Tasman Seas to the east. The Australian ...
(NSW),
Queensland Queensland ( ,) is a state situated in northeastern Australia, and is the second-largest and third-most populous Australian state. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south r ...
(QLD),
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, a ...
(SA),
Tasmania Tasmania (; abbreviated as Tas, nicknamed Tassie, xpz, Lutruwita; Palawa kani: ''Lutruwita'') is an island state of Australia. It is located to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main i ...
(TAS), Victoria (VIC) and
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northe ...
(WA) — and two major mainland territories—the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. It is located in the south-ea ...
(ACT) and the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. Northern Territory shares its borders with Western Australia to the west (129th merid ...
(NT). In most respects, these two territories function as states, except that the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to modify or repeal any legislation passed by the territory parliaments. Under the constitution, the states essentially have Plenary power, plenary legislative power to legislate on any subject, whereas the Commonwealth (federal) Parliament may legislate only within the subject areas enumerated under Section 51 of the Australian Constitution, section 51. For example, state parliaments have the power to legislate with respect to education, criminal law and state police, health, transport, and local government, but the Commonwealth Parliament does not have any specific power to legislate in these areas. However, Commonwealth laws prevail over state laws to the extent of the inconsistency. Each state and major mainland territory has its own Parliaments of the Australian states and territories, parliament — unicameralism, unicameral in the Northern Territory, the ACT and Queensland, and bicameral in the other states. The states are sovereign entities, although subject to certain powers of the Commonwealth as defined by the Constitution. The lower houses are known as the Legislative Assembly (the House of Assembly in South Australia and Tasmania); the upper houses are known as the Legislative council, Legislative Council. The head of government, head of the government in each state is the Premiers of the Australian states, Premier and in each territory the Chief Minister. The Queen is represented in each state by a Governors of the Australian states, governor; and in the Northern Territory, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, administrator. In the Commonwealth, the Queen's representative is the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general. The Commonwealth Parliament also directly administers the external territories of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and the Territorial claims in Antarctica, claimed region of
Australian Antarctic Territory The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of East Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of the Environment and Energy. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby Land m ...
, as well as the internal Jervis Bay Territory, a naval base and sea port for the national capital in land that was formerly part of New South Wales. The external territory of Norfolk Island previously exercised considerable autonomy under the ''Norfolk Island Act 1979'' through its own legislative assembly and an List of administrative heads of Norfolk Island, Administrator to represent the Queen. In 2015, the Commonwealth Parliament abolished self-government, integrating Norfolk Island into the Australian tax and welfare systems and replacing its legislative assembly with a council. Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania, and Lord Howe Island of New South Wales.


Foreign relations

Over recent decades, Foreign relations of Australia, Australia's foreign relations have been driven by a close association with the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
through the
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security non-binding agreement between Australia and New Zealand and, separately, Australia and the United States, to co-operate on military ...
pact, and by a desire to develop relationships with Asia and the Pacific, particularly through Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the
Pacific Islands Forum The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental organization that aims to enhance cooperation between countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean, including formation of a trade bloc and regional peacekeeping operations. It was founde ...
and the Pacific Community, of which Australia is a founding member. In 2005, Australia secured an inaugural seat at the East Asia Summit following its accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and in 2011 attended the Sixth East Asia Summit in
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of more than seventeen thousand islands, including Sumatra, ...

Indonesia
. Australia is a member of the
Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates ...

Commonwealth of Nations
, in which the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings provide the main forum for co-operation. Australia has pursued the cause of international trade liberalisation. It led the formation of the Cairns Group and
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC; ) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
. Australia is a member of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to sti ...

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) and the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. It officially commenced operations on 1 January 1995, pursuant to the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, thus rep ...
(WTO), and has pursued several major bilateral free trade agreements, most recently the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement and Closer Economic Relations with New Zealand, with another free trade agreement being negotiated with China — the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement — and Japan, South Korea in 2011, Australia–Chile Free Trade Agreement, and has put the Trans-Pacific Partnership before parliament for ratification. Australia maintains a deeply integrated relationship with neighbouring New Zealand, with free mobility of citizens between the two countries under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement and free trade under the Closer Economic Relations, Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement. New Zealand, Canada and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
are the most favourably viewed countries in the world by Australian people. Along with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore, Australia is party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements, a regional defence agreement. A founding member country of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
, Australia is strongly committed to multilateralism and maintains an international aid program under which some 60 countries receive assistance. The 2005–2006 budget provides AU$2.5 billion for development assistance.Australian Government (2005
Budget 2005–2006
Australia ranks fifteenth overall in the Center for Global Development's 2012 Commitment to Development Index.


Military

Australia's armed forces—the Australian Defence Force (ADF) — comprise the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), in total numbering 81,214 personnel (including 57,982 regulars and 23,232 reservists) . The titular role of Commander-in-Chief is vested in the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General, who appoints a Chief of the Defence Force (Australia), Chief of the Defence Force from one of the armed services on the advice of the government. In a diarchy, the CDF serves as co-chairman of the Defence Committee (Australia), Defence Committee, conjointly with the Department of Defence (Australia)#Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Defence, in the command and control of the Australian Defence Organisation. In the 2016–2017 budget, defence spending comprised 2% of GDP, representing the world's List of countries by military expenditures, 12th largest defence budget. Australia has been involved in
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
and regional peacekeeping, disaster relief and armed conflict, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq; Australia Current Australian Defence Force deployments, currently has deployed about 2,241 personnel in varying capacities to 12 international operations in areas including Operation Okra, Iraq and War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Afghanistan.


Economy

A wealthy country, Australia has a market economy, a high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, Australia ranked second in the world after Switzerland from 2013 until 2018. In 2018, Australia overtook Switzerland and became the country with the highest average wealth. Australia's poverty rate is 13.6%. It was identified by the Credit Suisse Research Institute as the nation with the highest median wealth in the world and the second-highest average wealth per adult in 2013. The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Islands, Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. With the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange became the ninth largest in the world. Ranked fifth in the Index of Economic Freedom (2017), Australia is the List of countries by GDP (nominal), world's 13th largest economy and has the List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, tenth highest per capita GDP (nominal) at US$55,692. The country was ranked third in the United Nations 2017 Human Development Index. Melbourne reached top spot for the fourth year in a row on ''The Economist''s 2014 list of the World's most livable cities, world's most liveable cities, followed by Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth in the fifth, seventh, and ninth places respectively. Total government debt in Australia is about A$190 billion—20% of Gross domestic product, GDP in 2010. Australia has among the highest house prices and some of the highest household debt levels in the world. An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the 21st century, due to rising commodity prices. Balance of payments of Australia, Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large Current account (balance of payments), current account deficits for more than 50 years. Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6% for over 15 years, in comparison to the OECD annual average of 2.5%. Australia was the only advanced economy not to experience a recession due to the Late-2000s recession, global financial downturn in 2008–2009. However, the economies of six of Australia's major trading partners were in recession, which in turn affected Australia, significantly hampering its economic growth. From 2012 to early 2013, Australia's national economy grew, but some non-mining states and Australia's non-mining economy experienced a recession. The Bob Hawke, Hawke Government Floating exchange rate, floated the Australian dollar in 1983 and partially deregulated the financial system. The Howard Government followed with a WorkChoices, partial deregulation of the labour market and the further privatisation of state-owned businesses, most notably in the telecommunications in Australia, telecommunications industry. The indirect tax system was substantially changed in July 2000 with the introduction of a 10% Goods and Services Tax (Australia), Goods and Services Tax (GST). In Taxation in Australia, Australia's tax system, personal and company Income tax in Australia, income tax are the main sources of government revenue. , there were 12,640,800 people employed (either full- or part-time), with an unemployment rate of 5.2%. Data released in mid-November 2013 showed that the number of welfare recipients had grown by 55%. In 2007 228,621 Newstart Allowance, Newstart unemployment allowance recipients were registered, a total that increased to 646,414 in March 2013. According to the Graduate Careers Survey, full-time employment for newly qualified professionals from various occupations has declined since 2011 but it increases for graduates three years after graduation. interest rates in Australia were set at a record low of 0.1%, targeting an inflation rate of 2 to 3%. The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP. Mining in Australia, Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly wheat and wool, minerals such as iron-ore and gold, and energy in the forms of liquified natural gas and coal. Although Agriculture in Australia, agriculture and natural resources account for only 3% and 5% of GDP respectively, they contribute substantially to export performance. Australia's largest export markets are Japan, China, the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
, South Korea, and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of . New Zealand ...
. Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, and the wine industry contributes A$5.5 billion per year to the nation's economy. Access to biocapacity in Australia is much higher than world average. In 2016, Australia had 12.3 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, much more than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 Australia used 6.6 global hectares of biocapacity per person – their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use half as much biocapacity as Australia contains. As a result, Australia is running a biocapacity reserve. In 2020 ACOSS released a new report revealing that poverty is growing in Australia, with an estimated 3.2 million people, or 13.6% of the population, living below an internationally accepted poverty line of 50% of a country's median income. It also estimated that there are 774,000 (17.7%) children under the age of 15 that are in poverty.


Demographics

Australia has an average population density of persons per square kilometre of total land area, which makes it is one of the List of countries by population density, most sparsely populated countries in the world. The population is heavily concentrated on the east coast, and in particular in the south-eastern region between South East Queensland to the north-east and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city of the state of South Australia, and the fifth-most populous city of Australia. The demonym is used to denote the city and the residents of Adelaide. Adelaide is situated on the Adelaide Plains north of the Fl ...

Adelaide
to the south-west. Australia is highly urbanised, with 67% of the population living in the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (metropolitan areas of the state and mainland territorial capital cities) in 2018. Metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants are
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug: ) is the capital city of the state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about on its periphery toward ...

Sydney
,
Melbourne Melbourne ( ; wyi, Naarm) is the capital and most-populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of , comprising a metropolitan area with ...
,
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital of and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.6 million, and it lies at the centr ...
,
Perth Perth () is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 million living in Greater Perth in 2018. Perth is part of the South West Land Divi ...
and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city of the state of South Australia, and the fifth-most populous city of Australia. The demonym is used to denote the city and the residents of Adelaide. Adelaide is situated on the Adelaide Plains north of the Fl ...

Adelaide
. In common with many other developed countries, Australia is experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with more retirees and fewer people of working age. In 2018 the median age, average age of the Australian population was 38.8 years. In 2015, 2.15% of the Australian population Australian diaspora, lived overseas, one of the List of sovereign states and dependent territories by immigrant population#UN 2015 report: emigrant population, lowest proportions worldwide.


Ancestry and immigration

Between 1788 and the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the Anglo-Celtic Australians, British Isles (principally English Australians, England, Irish Australians, Ireland and Scottish Australians, Scotland), although there was significant immigration from
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million m ...
and German Australians, Germany during the 19th century. In the decades immediately following the Second World War, Australia received a Post-war immigration to Australia, large wave of immigration from across European Australians, Europe, with many more immigrants arriving from Southern Europe, Southern and Eastern Europe than in previous decades. Since the end of the
White Australia policy The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical racial policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigrating to Australia, starting in 1901. Subsequen ...
in 1973, Australia has pursued an official policy of multiculturalism, and there has been a large and continuing wave of immigration from across the world, with Asian Australians, Asia being the largest source of immigrants in the 21st century. Today, Australia has the world's List of sovereign states and dependent territories by immigrant population, eighth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 30% of the population, a higher proportion than in any other nation with a population of over 10 million. 160,323 permanent immigrants were admitted to Australia in 2018–2019 (excluding refugees), whilst there was a net population gain of 239,600 people from all permanent and temporary immigration in that year. The majority of immigrants are skilled, but the immigration program includes categories for family members and refugees. In 2019, the largest foreign-born populations were those born in England (3.9%), Mainland China (2.7%), India (2.6%), New Zealand (2.2%), the Philippines (1.2%) and Vietnam (1%). In the 2016 Australian census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were: At the 2016 census, 649,171 people (2.8% of the total population) identified as being Indigenous Australians, Indigenous — Aboriginal Australians and
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are often grouped with them ...
. Indigenous Australians experience higher than average rates of imprisonment and unemployment, lower levels of education, and life expectancies for males and females that are, respectively, 11 and 17 years lower than those of non-indigenous Australians. Some remote Indigenous communities have been described as having "failed state"-like conditions.


Language

Although Australia has no official language, English is the ''de facto'' national language. "English has no de jure status but it is so entrenched as the common language that it is de facto the official language as well as the national language."
Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the first language of the major ...
is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon, and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling."The Macquarie Dictionary", Fourth Edition. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2005. General Australian serves as the standard dialect. According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for 72.7% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic language, Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese language, Vietnamese (1.2%) and Italian language, Italian (1.2%). Over 250 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact,Walsh, Michael (1991) "Overview of indigenous languages of Australia" in of which fewer than twenty are still in daily use by all age groups. About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people. At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 10,112 deaf people who reported that they spoke Auslan language at home in the 2016 census.


Religion

Australia has no state religion; Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prohibits the Federal Government of Australia, federal government from making any law to establish any religion, impose any religious observance, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion. In the 2016 census, 52.1% of Australians were counted as Christians, Christian, including 22.6% as Roman Catholicism in Australia, Catholic and 13.3% as Anglicanism, Anglican; 30.1% of the population reported having "Irreligion in Australia, no religion"; 8.2% identify with non-Christian religions, the largest of these being Islam (2.6%), followed by Buddhism (2.4%), Hinduism (1.9%), Sikhism in Australia, Sikhism (0.5%) and Judaism (0.4%). The remaining 9.7% of the population did not provide an adequate answer. Those who reported having no religion increased conspicuously from 19% in 2006 to 22% in 2011 to 30.1% in 2016. Before European settlement, the animist beliefs of Australia's indigenous people had been practised for many thousands of years. Mainland Aboriginal Australians' spirituality is known as the Dreaming and it places a heavy emphasis on belonging to the land. The collection of stories that it contains shaped Aboriginal law and customs. Indigenous Australian art, Aboriginal art, story and dance continue to draw on these spiritual traditions. The spirituality and customs of
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are often grouped with them ...
, who inhabit the islands between Australia and New Guinea, reflected their Melanesian origins and dependence on the sea. The 1996 Australian census counted more than 7000 respondents as followers of a traditional Aboriginal religion. Since the arrival of the
First Fleet The First Fleet comprised the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787 to New South Wales, the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The First Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, thre ...
of British ships in 1788, Christianity has become the major religion practised in Australia. Christian churches have played an integral role in the development of education, health and welfare services in Australia. For much of Australian history, the Church of England (now known as the Anglican Church of Australia) was the largest religious denomination, with a large Roman Catholic minority. However, multicultural immigration has contributed to a steep decline in its relative position since the Second World War. Similarly, Islam in Australia, Islam, Buddhism in Australia, Buddhism, Hinduism in Australia, Hinduism, Sikhism in Australia, Sikhism and History of the Jews in Australia, Judaism have all grown in Australia over the past half-century. Australia has one of the lowest levels of religious adherence in the world. In 2018, 13% of women and 10% of men reported attending church at least weekly.


Health

Australia's life expectancy is the fourth highest in the world for males and the third highest for females. Life expectancy in Australia in 2014–2016 was 80.4 years for males and 84.6 years for females. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, while Tobacco smoking, cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease, responsible for 7.8% of the total mortality and disease. Ranked second in preventable causes is hypertension at 7.6%, with obesity third at 7.5%. Australia ranks 35th in the world and near the top of Developed country, developed nations for its proportion of Obesity in Australia, obese adults and nearly two thirds (63%) of its adult population is either overweight or obese. Total expenditure on health (including private sector spending) is around 9.8% of GDP. Australia introduced universal health care in 1975. Known as Medicare (Australia), Medicare, it is now nominally funded by an income tax surcharge known as the Medicare levy, currently at 2%. The states manage hospitals and attached outpatient services, while the Commonwealth funds the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (subsidising the costs of medicines) and general practice.


Education

School attendance, or registration for home schooling, is compulsory throughout Australia. Education is the responsibility of the individual states and territories so the rules vary between states, but in general children are required to attend school from the age of about 5 until about 16. In some states (e.g., Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales), children aged 16–17 are required to either attend school or participate in vocational training, such as an apprenticeship. Australia has an adult literacy rate that was estimated to be 99% in 2003. However, a 2011–2012 report for the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Tasmania has a literacy and numeracy rate of only 50%. Australia has 37 government-funded universities and three private universities, as well as a number of other specialist institutions that provide approved courses at the higher education level. The OECD places Australia among the most expensive nations to attend university. There is a state-based system of vocational training, known as Technical and further education, TAFE, and many trades conduct apprenticeships for training new tradespeople. About 58% of Australians aged from 25 to 64 have vocational or tertiary qualifications, and the tertiary graduation rate of 49% is the highest among OECD countries. 30.9% of Australia's population has attained a higher education qualification, which is among the highest percentages in the world. Australia has the highest ratio of International students in Australia, international students per head of population in the world by a large margin, with 812,000 international students enrolled in the nation's universities and vocational institutions in 2019. Accordingly, in 2019, international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities. International education therefore represents one of the country's largest exports and has a pronounced influence on the country's demographics, with a significant proportion of international students remaining in Australia after graduation on various skill and employment visas.


Culture

Since 1788, the primary influence behind Australian culture has been Anglo-Celtic Western culture, with some Indigenous Australians, Indigenous influences. The divergence and evolution that has occurred in the ensuing centuries has resulted in a distinctive Australian culture. The culture of the United States has served as a significant influence, particularly through television and cinema. Other cultural influences come from neighbouring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations.


Arts

Australia has over 100,000 Indigenous Australian art#Rock painting, Aboriginal rock art sites, and traditional designs, patterns and stories infuse contemporary Indigenous Australian art, "the last great art movement of the 20th century" according to critic Robert Hughes (critic), Robert Hughes; its exponents include Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Early colonial artists showed a fascination with the unfamiliar land. The impressionism, impressionistic works of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and other members of the 19th-century Heidelberg School—the first "distinctively Australian" movement in Western art—gave expression to nationalist sentiments in the lead-up to Federation.Australian art
, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
While the school remained influential into the 1900s, modern art, modernists such as Margaret Preston, and, later, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd, explored new artistic trends. The landscape remained a central subject matter for Fred Williams (artist), Fred Williams, Brett Whiteley and other post-war artists whose works, eclectic in style yet uniquely Australian, moved between the figurative art, figurative and the abstract art, abstract. The National Gallery of Australia, national and state galleries maintain collections of local and international art. Australia has one of the world's highest attendances of art galleries and museums per head of population. Australian literature grew slowly in the decades following European settlement though Indigenous oral traditions, many of which have since been recorded in writing, are much older. In the 1870s, Adam Lindsay Gordon posthumously became the first Australian poet to attain a wide readership. Following in his footsteps, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson captured the experience of Australian bush, the bush using a distinctive Australian vocabulary. Their works are still popular; Paterson's bush poetry, bush poem "Waltzing Matilda" (1895) is regarded as Australia's unofficial national anthem. Miles Franklin is the namesake of Australia's Miles Franklin Award, most prestigious literary prize, awarded annually to the best novel about Australian life. Its first recipient, Patrick White, went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973. Australian Man Booker Prize, Booker Prize winners include Peter Carey (novelist), Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally and Richard Flanagan. Authors David Malouf, Germaine Greer, Helen Garner, playwright David Williamson and poet Les Murray (poet), Les Murray are also renowned. Many of Australia's performing arts companies receive funding through the federal government's Australia Council for the Arts, Australia Council. There is a symphony orchestra in each state, and a national opera company, Opera Australia, well known for its famous soprano Joan Sutherland. At the beginning of the 20th century, Nellie Melba was one of the world's leading opera singers. Ballet and dance are represented by The Australian Ballet and various state companies. Each state has a publicly funded theatre company.


Media

''The Story of the Kelly Gang'' (1906), the world's first feature film, feature-length narrative film, spurred a boom in cinema of Australia, Australian cinema during the silent film era. After World War I, Hollywood monopolised the industry, and by the 1960s Australian film production had effectively ceased. With the benefit of government support, the Australian New Wave of the 1970s brought provocative and successful films, many exploring themes of national identity, such as ''Wake in Fright'' and ''Gallipoli (1981 film), Gallipoli'', while ''Crocodile Dundee'' and the Ozploitation movement's ''Mad Max (franchise), Mad Max'' series became international blockbusters. In a film market flooded with foreign content, Australian films delivered a 7.7% share of the local box office in 2015. The AACTA Awards, AACTAs are Australia's premier film and television awards, and notable List of Australian Academy Award winners and nominees, Academy Award winners from Australia include Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger. Australia has two public broadcasters (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service), three commercial television networks, several pay-TV services, and numerous public, non-profit television and radio stations. Each major city has at least one daily newspaper, and there are two national daily newspapers, ''The Australian'' and ''The Australian Financial Review''. In 2010, Reporters Without Borders placed Australia 18th on a list of 178 countries ranked by freedom of the press, press freedom, behind New Zealand (8th) but ahead of the United Kingdom (19th) and United States (20th). This relatively low ranking is primarily because of the limited diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia; most print media are under the control of News Corporation (1980–2013), News Corporation and, after Fairfax Media was merged with Nine, Nine Entertainment Co.


Cuisine

Most Indigenous Australian groups subsisted on a simple hunter-gatherer diet of native fauna and flora, otherwise called bush tucker. The first settlers introduced British cuisine, British food to the continent, much of which is now considered typical Australian food, such as the Sunday roast. Multicultural immigration transformed Australian cuisine; post-World War II European migrants, particularly from the Mediterranean, helped to build a thriving Australian coffee culture, and the influence of Culture of Asia, Asian cultures has led to Australian variants of their staple foods, such as the Chinese cuisine, Chinese-inspired dim sim and Chiko Roll. Vegemite, pavlova (food), pavlova, lamingtons and meat pie (Australia and New Zealand), meat pies are regarded as iconic Australian foods. Australian wine is produced mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. Australia is also known for its Coffeehouse, cafe and coffee culture in Urban area, urban centres, which has influenced coffee culture abroad, including New York City. Australia was responsible for the flat white coffee–purported to have originated in a Sydney cafe in the mid-1980s.


Sport and recreation

Cricket and football are the predominate sports in Australia during the summer and winter months, respectively. Australia is unique in that it has professional leagues for football in Australia, four football codes. Originating in Melbourne in the 1850s, Australian rules football is the most popular code in all states except New South Wales and Queensland, where rugby league holds sway, followed by rugby union; the imaginary border separating areas where Australian rules football dominates from those were the two rugby codes prevail is known as the Barassi Line. Association football, Soccer, while ranked fourth in popularity and resources, has the highest overall participation rates. Cricket is popular across all borders and has been regarded by many Australians as the national sport. The Australia national cricket team, Australian national cricket team competed against England cricket team, England in the first Test cricket, Test match (1877) and the first One Day International (1971), and against New Zealand cricket team, New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International (2004), winning all three games. It has also participated in every edition of the Cricket World Cup, winning the tournament a record five times. Australia is also notable for water-based sports, such as swimming and surfing in Australia, surfing. The surf lifesaving movement originated in Australia, and the volunteer lifesaver is one of the country's icons. Nationally, other popular sports include horse racing, basketball, and motor racing. The annual Melbourne Cup horse race and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney to Hobart yacht race attract intense interest. In 2016, the Australian Sports Commission revealed that swimming, cycling and soccer are the three most popular participation sports. Australia is one of five nations to have participated in every Summer Olympics of the modern era, and has hosted the Games twice: 1956 Summer Olympics, 1956 in Melbourne and 2000 Summer Olympics, 2000 in Sydney. Australia has also participated in every Commonwealth Games, hosting the event in 1938 British Empire Games, 1938, 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, 1962, 1982 Commonwealth Games, 1982, 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018. Australia made its inaugural appearance at the Pacific Games in 2015 Pacific Games, 2015. As well as being a regular FIFA World Cup participant, Australia has won the OFC Nations Cup four times and the AFC Asian Cup once—the only country to have won championships in two different FIFA confederations. In June 2020, Australia won Australia–New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup bid, its bid to co-host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with New Zealand. The country regularly competes among the world elite basketball teams as it is among the global top three teams in terms of qualifications to the Basketball Tournament at the Summer Olympics. Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam (tennis), grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Grand Prix, Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The highest-rating television programs include sports telecasts such as the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, The Ashes, Rugby League State of Origin, and the grand finals of the National Rugby League and Australian Football League. Skiing in Australia began in the 1860s and snow sports take place in the Australian Alps and parts of Tasmania.


See also

* Outline of Australia * Index of Australia-related articles


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * *


Further reading

* Denoon, Donald, et al. (2000). ''A History of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific''. Oxford: Blackwell. . * Goad, Philip and Julie Willis (eds.) (2011). ''The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture''. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. . * Hughes, Robert (1986). ''The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding''. Knopf. . * Powell, J.M. (1988). ''An Historical Geography of Modern Australia: The Restive Fringe''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Robinson, G.M., Loughran, R.J., and Tranter, P.J. (2000). ''Australia and New Zealand: Economy, Society and Environment''. London: Arnold; New York: Oxford University Press. paperback, hardback. *


External links

* *
About Australia
from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website
Governments of Australia website
(federal, states and territories)
Australian Government website

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Tourism Australia
* {{Featured article Australia, English-speaking countries and territories States and territories established in 1901 G20 nations Member states of the United Nations Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations Countries in Oceania Countries in Australasia Geographical articles missing image alternative text Transcontinental countries