7,692,030 square kilometres (2,969,909 square miles)
19,546,792 (the 2002 official estimate)
2.54 people per square kilometre
Canberra. Population: (official estimate 1999).
309,900 (the 1999 official estimate).
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.
coastline covers 36,738 kilometres (which is 22,814 miles).
of the population has settled along the eastern and south eastern
is the largest island and the smallest continent in the world.
40 % of the continent is within the tropics and Australia is almost
the same size as the mainland of the United States of America.
terrain is extremely diverse, ranging from lush green rainforest
to tortured red desert.
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.
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.
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.
is the driest land on Earth, however, it has enormous snowfields
the size of Switzerland.
are vast mineral deposits.
Note: More detailed geographical descriptions of
each State can be found in the individual State sections.
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
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).
The official language is English, but any other
languages are retained by minorities, including Greek, Vietnamese,
German, Italian, Chinese dialects and Aboriginal languages.
26 % Roman Catholic, 24 % Protestant and smaller minorities of all
other major religions.
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).
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.
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.