Australia, island continent located southeast of Asia and forming, with the nearby
island of Tasmania, the commenwealth of Australia, a self governing member of the
Commenwealth of Nations. The commenwealth of Australia is made up of six states--
News south Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Wester n
Australia--and two territories--the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern
Australia, including Tasmania but excluding external territories, covers a land
area of 7,682,300 sq. km, extending from Cape York (100 41' S) in the north some
3,680 km to Tasmania (430 39' S), and from Cape Byron (1530 39' E) in the east some
4,000 km west to Western Australia (1130 9' E).
Population (estimates), July 1995, 18,322,231, with the age structure under 15
(female 1,929,366; male 2,032,238), 15-64 (female 6,017,362; male 6,181,887), 65
and over(female 1,227,004; male 934,374). Population growth rate is estimated at
1.31% (1995 est.). Literacy rate age 15 and over can read and write (1980 est.).
English is the official language, with modern Australian English a conglomerate of
British, American, and their own phraseology and spelling.
Because Australia is
one of the most multicultural nations in the world it is possible to find vibrant
ethnic communities using almost every other world language.Australian school
children have the highest rate of learning Asian languages, particularly Japanese
and Chinese, of any industrialized western nation - in recognition of their future
as a member of the Asia-Pacific region.
Labor force is 8.63 million(september 1991) by occupation of finance and service
33.8%, public and community services 22.3%, wholesale and reatail trade 20.1%,
manufacturing and industry 16.2%, agriculture 6.1%(1987).
Australia has a federal system of government, and a long history as a multiparty
There is no written Bill of Rights, but fundamental
rights are ensured by law and respected in practice.
The Commonwealth (federal) government and the six state governments operate under
written constitutions that draw on the British tradition of a Cabinet Government,
led by a Prime Minister, which is responsible to a majority in Parliament's lower
The Federal Constitution, however, also contains some elements that
resemble American practice (e.g., a Senate, in which each state has equal
The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British
monarch, but she exercises her functions through personal representatives who live
in Australia (i.e., Australian citizens who serve as the Governor-General of
Australia, and the Governors of the six states). Australians are debating whether
their country should become a republic, give up ties with the Queen, revise the
constitution, and adopt a new flag.
Members of the Federal House of Representatives are elected for three years, and
national elections were last held in March, 1993.
Lower-house elections, thus, are