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Facts

    Full name:Commonwealth of Australia
    Population:21.5 million (UN, 2009)
    Capital:Canberra
    Largest city:Sydney
    Area:7.7 million sq km (2.9 million sq miles)
    Major language:English
    Major religion:Christianity
    Life expectancy:79 years (men), 84 years (women) (UN)
    Monetary unit:1 Australian dollar = 100 cents
    Main exports:Ores and metals; wool, food and live animals; fuels, transport machinery and equipment
    GNI per capita:US $32,220 (World Bank, 2006)
    Internet domain:.au
    International dialling code:+61

History

Despite the great age of the Australian continent, its recorded history is only very recent. It is usually held that the earliest human population arrived over 50,000 years ago when Australia's indigenous tribes migrated from an unknown region of Asia.

European exploration of Australia began in 1606 when a Spanish navigator sailed through the Torres Strait, which separates Australia from Papua New Guinea. He was soon followed by Dutch, French and English explorers who began to chart the continent.

The settlement of Australia began in 1788 when a British penal colony was established at Botany Bay, in what was to become the city of Sydney in New South Wales. The colony grew rapidly as free settlers, hoping to make a better life for themselves, followed convicts, and soon Australia started making its mark in the world.

Geography

Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral reefs rich with marine life, tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, vast grazing lands and sparse deserts.

One of the oldest continents, Australia is as wide as the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei and as long as the distance from Singapore to Manila. It is the only country to occupy an entire continent.

Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique on the planet. The surface geology is typically old and flat.

Government

The government is divided into three levels: Federal, State and Local. The Federal government is the national system and is headed by the Prime Minister. Its responsibilities are defined in the Australian Constitution.

Each state/territory also has its own government system, headed by the Premier. The state government provides leadership for areas not covered at the federal level, although the two work together when it is agreed there needs to be national co-operation.

Apart from the Australian Capital Territory, which is wholly governed by the federal and state governments, each other state and territory is divided into different regions, which form the local government. This level takes care of domestic issues in each area, such as rubbish collection, public and community services.

Culture

Australia’s culture was greatly derived from the European lineage, but there are some distinctive Australian characteristics grown from the atmosphere, aboriginal culture and influence of its neighbourhood. Since the past 50 years, the culture of Australia was strongly influenced by the American popular culture, especially movies and television. Literature, movies, opera, music, dance, painting, theatre and crafts are the dynamism and creative arts of Australia, which has achieved global appreciation. The most of the immigrants are from Asian and European countries.

Climate

Australian climate varies widely based on the region, which was significantly influenced by ocean currents. Largest part of Australia was outback, which is desert or semi-dry. The southern region has a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil and the northern region has a tropical climate, which was partly rainforests, grasslands and deserts. Large number of population lives within the south-eastern coastline in a temperate atmosphere. All a whole, people from any country can have a pleasant atmosphere in Australia.

Economy

While traditionally Australia has exploited its abundant natural resources and great mineral wealth, the largest area of export growth is now in manufactured goods. However, it is still a major supplier of wool, cereals, dairy produce, meat, sugar and fruit along with metals, minerals and gems to the world.

Australia, island continent located southeast of Asia and forming, with the nearby island of Tasmania, the Commonwealth of Australia, a self-governing member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The continent is bounded on the north by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Torres Strait; on the east by the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea; on the south by the Bass Strait and the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Indian Ocean. The commonwealth extends for about 4,000 km (about 2,500 mi) from east to west and for about 3,700 km (about 2,300 mi) from north to south. Its coastline measures some 25,760 km (about 16,010 mi). The area of the commonwealth is 7,682,300 sq km (2,966,200 sq mi), and the area of the continent alone is 7,614,500 sq km (2,939,974 sq mi), making Australia the smallest continent in the world, but the sixth largest country

Food

The traditional cuisine of Australia was rooted from the European gastronomy, which was bought from the early settlers. It usually consists of pies, roasted cuts of meat, grilled steak and chops and few other cuisines of meat accompanied with vegetables. With the emphasis of multiculturalism many other cuisines has influenced the Australian food culture. They include Mediterranean and Asian foods formerly brought up by the settlers. In the recent times, Australians consume a lot of take-away food.

The common breakfast in Australia include cereals, toast, fruits and fried bacon, egg, mushroom, baked beans and sausages. Tea, coffee, flavoured milk or juice is the drink with breakfast. The common choices in dinner are roast meat and vegetables, pasta, pizza, casseroles, barbecue meat, vegetables and salads, soup, stir-fries. Try some good Australian food so as to enjoy a pleasure of dining in Australian style.

Multiculturalism

The people in Australia came from over 100 different countries around the world with their own cultures, ethics and languages. They formed different cultural groups that made Australia a multicultural nation, which was adopted since 1970. As there are different cultural groups, Australian government implemented the cultural policy in the country to control the society and its ethics. There is a multicultural national literature in Australia. There are 26.4% of Catholics, 20.5% of Anglicans, 20.5% of other Christians, 1.9% of Buddhists, 1.5% of Muslims, 1.2% of other religions, 12.7%, of unspecified religions in Australia. This has resulted students from different countries with different cultures to choose Australia for their higher education.
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