OZ Life

OZ Life
Facts and Figures about Australia

Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef. A referendum to change Australia's status from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to an independent republic was defeated in 1999. 

Map references: Oceania

total: 7,686,850 sq km
land: 7,617,930 sq km
water: 68,920 sq km
note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 25,760 km

Climate: generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north

Terrain: mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m

Population: 20,434,176 (2007 estimate)
Population growth
Population growth rate: 0.82 percent (2007 estimate)
Projected population in 2025: 23,022,980 (2007 estimate)
Projected population in 2050: 24,175,783 (2007 estimate)
Population density: 2.7 persons per sq km (2007 estimate)
Urban/rural distribution
Share urban: 93 percent (2005 estimate)
Share rural: 7 percent (2005 estimate)

Capital: Canberra

Administrative divisions
6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Dependent areas: Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island

Largest cities   
Sydney, New South Wales: 4,119,190 (2006 estimate)
Melbourne, Victoria: 3,592,591 (2006 estimate)
Brisbane, Queensland: 1,763,131 (2006 estimate)
Perth, Western Australia: 1,445,078 (2006 estimate)
Adelaide, South Australia: 1,105,839 (2006 estimate)

Ethnic groups
White: 91 percent
Asian: 7 percent
Aboriginal and other: 2 percent

English (official), indigenous languages

Religious affiliations
Roman Catholic: 29 percent
Anglican: 22 percent
Protestants: 14 percent
Other Christian: 15 percent
nonreligious: 14 percent
Other: 6 percent

Health and Education
Life expectancy    
Total: 80.6 years (2007 estimate)
Female: 83.6 years (2007 estimate)
Male: 77.8 years (2007 estimate)
Infant mortality rate: 5 deaths per 1,000 live births (2007 estimate)
Population per physician: 401 people (2004)
Population per hospital bed: 135 people (2002)

Form of government: Federal parliamentary democracy
Head of state: Governor-general, representing the British monarch
Head of government: Prime minister
Legislature: Bicameral legislature
House of Representatives: 150 members
Senate: 76 senators
Voting qualifications: Universal and compulsory at age 18
Constitution: 9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901
Highest court: High Court of Australia
Armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force
Total number of military personnel: 52,872 (2004)
Military expenditures as a share of gross domestic product (GDP)    2.3 percent (2003)
First-level political divisions    Six states and two territories

Gross domestic product: $ 998, 131,000 (2007)
GDP by economic sector
Agriculture, forestry, fishing    3.4 percent (2003)
Industry    25.7 percent (2003)
Services    70.9 percent (2003)

Workforce share of economic sector
Agriculture, forestry, fishing: 4 percent (2005)
Industry: 21 percent (2005)
Services: 75 percent (2005)
Unemployment rate    4.2 percent (2007)
National budget 2007-08 is $65.673 million

Monetary unit
1 Australian dollar ($A), consisting of 100 cents

Wheat and other grains, wool, beef, vegetables, fruits, cotton, sugarcane

Coal, bauxite, alumina, iron ore, gold, silver, diamonds, petroleum, natural gas, zinc, copper, manganese, titanium, nickel, tin, lead, uranium, zircon, tungsten

Metals and metal products, food products, transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals and chemical products, textiles and clothing, wood and paper products, printed materials

Major exports
Metal ores, coal, gold, nonferrous metals, meat and meat products, textile fibers, petroleum and petroleum products, cereals

Major imports
Road vehicles and other transportation equipment, machinery, office equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles

Major trade partners for exports
Japan, United States, South Korea, China, New Zealand

Major trade partners for imports
United States, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom

Natural hazards
cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

Environment  current issues: soil erosion from overgrazing, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; limited natural fresh water resources

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