Australia is called as Commonwealth of Australia, a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighboring countries include Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
Australia’s landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometers (2,941,300 sq mi) is on the Indo-Australian Plate. Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, it is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas. The world’s smallest continent and sixth largest country by total area, Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the “island continent”, and is sometimes considered the world’s largest island. Australia has 34,218 kilometers (21,262 mi) of coastline (excluding all offshore islands), and claims an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone of 8,148,250 square kilometers (3,146,060 sq mi). This exclusive economic zone does not include the Australian Antarctic Territory. Excluding Macquarie Island, Australia lies between latitudes 9° and 44°S, and longitudes 112° and 154°E.
Australia’s estimated population is currently over 22,662,190. Projected growth rates according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics show:
Australia’s population grew by 1.5% during the year ended 31 December 2010. Natural increase and net overseas migration contributed 47% and 53% respectively to total population growth for the year ended 31 December 2010.
All states and territories experienced positive population growth for the year ended 31 December 2010. Western Australia recorded the fastest growth (2.1%) and Tasmania and the Northern Territory the slowest (both 0.8%).
Geography and Climate
Australia is the flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils; desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate. The population density is 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometer, is among the lowest in the world, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline
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, and the seasonal tropical low pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia. These factors induce rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical predominantly summer rainfall (monsoon) climate. Just under three quarters of Australia lies within a desert or semi-arid zone. The southwest corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate. Much of the southeast (including Tasmania) is temperate.
A highly developed country, Australia is the world’s thirteenth largest economy and has the world’s sixth-highest per capita income. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the G20, OECD, WTO, APEC, UN, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
Australia has six states—New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia—and two major mainland territories—the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
Australia has a market economy with high GDP per capita and low rate of poverty. The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. After the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange is now the ninth largest in the world.
Although Australia has no official language, English is so entrenched that it has become the de-facto national language. According to the 2006 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 79 per cent of the population.
Australia has no state religion. In the 2006 census, 64 per cent of Australians listed themselves as Christian, including 26 per cent as Roman Catholic and 19 per cent as Anglican. About 19 per cent of the population cited “No religion” (which includes humanism, atheism, agnosticism and rationalism), which was the fastest-growing group from 2001 to 2006, and a further 12 per cent did not answer (the question is optional) or did not give a response adequate for interpretation. The largest non-Christian religion in Australia is Buddhism (2.1 per cent), followed by Islam (1.7 per cent), Hinduism (0.8 per cent) and Judaism (0.5 per cent). Overall, fewer than 6 per cent of Australians identify with non-Christian religions.
The culture of Australia is essentially a Western culture influenced by the unique geography of the Australian continent and by the diverse input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and various waves of multi-ethnic migration which followed the British colonization of Australia. The capital cities host internationally renowned cultural institutions as the Sydney Opera House and National Gallery of Victoria, and Australia has contributed many artists to international pop and classical culture, from hard rock’s AC/DC to opera’s Joan Sutherland