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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Australia General Info
Australia General Information - TravelPuppy.com
Area

7,692,030 square kilometres (2,969,909 square miles)

Population

19,546,792 (the 2002 official estimate)

Population Density

2.54 people per square kilometre

Capital

Canberra. Population: (official estimate 1999).

Population of Canberra

309,900 (the 1999 official estimate).

Geography

Some key geographical facts:

Australia is bordered by the Arafura Sea and Timor Seas to the north, the Coral and Tasman Seas of the South Pacific to the east, the Southern Ocean to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the west.

 Its coastline covers 36,738 kilometres (which is 22,814 miles).

 Most of the population has settled along the eastern and south eastern coastal strip.

 Australia is the largest island and the smallest continent in the world.

 About 40 % of the continent is within the tropics and Australia is almost the same size as the mainland of the United States of America.

 The terrain is extremely diverse, ranging from lush green rainforest to tortured red desert.

 Australia’s surfing and beaches are world known, while the country is also rich in reminders of its mysterious past. These range from Victorian colonial architecture to prehistoric Aboriginal art.

 The landscape consists mainly of a low terrain spotted with lakes and rivers and skirted with coastal mountain ranges, highest in the east with the Great Dividing Range.

 There are rainforests in the far north east, (Cape York Peninsula) and the south east is a huge fertile plain. Further to the north lies the enormous Great Barrier Reef, a 2000 kilometre (1200 mile) strip of coral that covers a total area of 345,000 square kilometres.

 Australia is the driest land on Earth, however, it has enormous snowfields the size of Switzerland.

 There are vast mineral deposits.

Note: More detailed geographical descriptions of each State can be found in the individual State sections.


Government

Australia has a Constitutional Monarchy. It gained independence from the UK in 1901.

The Head of State is HM Queen Elizabeth II, whom is represented locally by Governor General Michael Jeffrey since 2003.

The Head of Government is Prime Minister John Winston Howard since 1996.

Each individual States and Territories has their own autonomous legislative, executive and judicial systems (though certain powers remain under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government).

Language

The official language is English, but any other languages are retained by minorities, including Greek, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Chinese dialects and Aboriginal languages.

Religion

26 % Roman Catholic, 24 % Protestant and smaller minorities of all other major religions.

Time Zone

Australia is broken into 3 time zones:

North east and south east: Greenich Mean Time + 10 (GMT + 11 October to March, except Queensland).

Central: Greenich Mean Time + 9.5 (GMT + 10.5 October to March, except Northern Territory).

West: Greenich Mean Time + 8.

Some States operate daylight saving time during the summer in Australia.

Clocks in these States are put forward by 1 hour in October and put back again in March.

Electricity

220 / 240 volts AC, 50Hz. 3 pin plugs are in use, however sockets are different from those found in most countries and an adaptor socket may be needed. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances are available in most hotels.
Useful travel links
CIA Factbook - Australia information on the geography, people & maps