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| Commonwealth of Australia
| Federal Multiparty Parliamentary State with Sovereign Monarchy
7,686,850 Sq Km (2,967,710 Sq Mi)
is the smallest continent in the world. Lying southeast of Asia, it is
bound by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Coral Sea to the northeast,
the Timor Sea to the northwest, the Indian Ocean to the west and the
Tasman Sea to the southeast. The continent consists largely of plains and
plateaux, and can be divided into three principal topographical regions.
(1.) The Western Plateau which is a vast desert and semidesert region that
covers almost 66% of the land area and is comprised of ancient rocks
similar to those of Africa. The Western Plateau has an average elevation
of 305 metres (1,000 feet) and is relieved by the Hamersley Range to the
west, the Kimberley Ranges and the valleys of Arnhem Land to the
north-central as well as the Macdonnell, Musgrave and Petermann Ranges to
the East. Also located on the plateau are the country's four major deserts
- the Gibson, Great Sandy, Great Victoria and Simpson as well as a massive
monolith known as Ayers Rock which rises over 335 metres (1,100 feet). The
plateau is also surrounded by escarpments, of which the most unusual is
the Nullarbor Plain a flat, smooth, barren lowland that stretches inland
along the Great Australian Bight. (2.) The Central Eastern Lowlands which
comprises Lake Eyre as well as the Murray, Darling and Gulf of Carpentaria
drainage basins stretch from the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north to
Western Victoria in the south. The average elevation of the Central
Eastern Lowlands is only 152 metres (500 feet) and falls to 12 metres (40
feet) below sea-level at Lake Eyre. The Great Artesian Basin also found
beneath the Central Eastern Lowlands is the largest artesian basin in the
world and accounts for approximately 20% of the continent. (3.) The
Eastern Highlands also described as the Great Dividing Range consist of a
complex belt of tablelands, ridges and coastal ranges stretching from Cape
York in northern Queensland to southern Victoria, and again resurfacing
across Bass Strait in Tasmania. The Eastern Highlands have an average
elevation of under 914 metres (3,000 feet) and are low and broad in the
north, while tablelands characterized by the New England Plateau and the
Blue Mountains are located in the central region. In the south the
highlands pass through the Australian Alps and the Snowy Mountains, and
across Victoria. The Eastern Highlands also contain a number of rivers,
although many are short and swift with the Murray River the longest while
its chief tributaries are the Darling, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Rivers.
Major Cities (pop. est.); Sydney 3,739,000, Melbourne 3,198,000, Brisbane
1,455,000, Perth 1,239,000, Adelaide 1,076,000, Newcastle 460,000,
Canberra 328,000, Gold Coast 314,000, Woollongong 251,000, Hobart 194,000
(1994). Land Use; pastures 54%, agricultural-cultivated 6%, other
including forests, deserts and urban 40% (1993).
climatic conditions are characterized by warmth, little rain, clear skies
and sunshine while temperature ranges are moderate with the absence of an
intense cold winter. The continent can be divided into several climatic
zones, an arid and semiarid interior, the monsoonal north and the
sub-humid to humid east. Australia can experience hurricanes and cyclones
on both coasts mainly on the northeast and northwest while droughts are
also common. Although droughts are generally limited, severe national
droughts have occurred. More than 33% of the country has an average annual
precipitation under 260 mm (10 inches) while less than 33% receives over
500 mm (19.5 inches). Average temperature ranges in Sydney are from 8 to
16 degrees Celsius (46 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 18 to 26
degrees Celsius (64 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
The principal ethnic majority are the Whites who account for 95% of the
population and are principally of British descent. However, around 22% of the
population were born abroad with principal ethnic groups including Italians,
Croats, Serbs, Greeks, Maltese, Germans, Dutch, Asians, New Zealanders, North
Americans and South Africans. The native Aboriginal population accounts for
around 1.5% of the population while Asians account for 1.3%
| Density; 2.3 persons per sq km (6 persons per sq mi) (1993).
Urban-Rural; 85.4% urban, 14.6% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 49.9% male,
50.1% female (1991). Life Expectancy at Birth; 74.4 years male, 80.3 years
female (1991). Age Breakdown; 22% under 15, 24% 15 to 29, 23% 30 to 44, 15% 45
to 59, 11% 60 to 74, 5% 75 and over (1991). Birth Rate; 15.1 per 1,000 (1992).
Death Rate; 7.1 per 1,000 (1992). Increase Rate; 8.0 per 1,000 (1992). Infant
Mortality Rate; 7.0 per 1,000 live births (1992).
Mostly Christians, of which 52% of the population are Protestant or Anglican,
25% are Roman Catholic and 3% are Greek Orthodox. Other minorities include
Muslims as well as Buddhists and both account for less than 1% each.
The official language is English, although Aboriginal and other numerous ethnic
immigrant languages are also spoken.
Aged 15 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 0.3%, primary and
secondary 56.1%, post secondary 34.0%, university 9.6% (1992). Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 99.5% (1990).
HISTORY - WWII TO 1993:
| After World War II Australia had an open door policy
towards displaced European refugees which resulted in an influx of immigrants.
In 1947 Prime Minister Ben Chifley unsuccessfully attempted to nationalize the
country's banks and Australia became one of the original members of the UN. In
1949 Sir Robert Menzies was elected Prime Minister of a Liberal coalition
government and in the same year Australia contributed forces to a UN command in
the Korean War. In 1950 Australia became a member of the Colombo Plan to aid
underdeveloped South and South East Asian countries. In 1951 Australia signed
the ANZUS Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
In 1954 Australia became a member of South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO)
and in 1965 Australian troops were sent to Vietnam. During the late 1960's
Aborigines were granted the right to vote and to claim social benefits. In 1966
Prime Minister Menzies retired and Harold Holt replaced him as head of the
coalition government. In 1967 Harold Holt mysteriously disappeared and was
presumed to have died during a swimming accident when swept out to sea. Prime
Minister Holt was replaced by John Gorton who was in turn succeeded by William
McMahon in 1971. In 1972 Gough Whitlam leader of the Australian Labor Party
(ALP) won power and in 1974 Prime Minister Whitlam dissolved both houses of
Parliament. In 1975 the Senate blocked the government's money bills and in Nov.
1975 Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed Prime Minister Whitlam and
dissolved the Senate which resulted in angry protests and demonstrations. In
Dec. 1975 Malcolm Fraser who was appointed interim Prime Minister by the
Governor-General was elected as head of another Liberal coalition government
which held office until 1983. In Mar. 1983 Robert (Bob) Hawke was elected Prime
Minister under an ALP government. In Dec. 1983 the government embarked on a
program of economic deregulation and in 1984 legislation was approved which
granted greater protection to sacred Aboriginal sites. In Oct. 1985 Ayers Rock
was transferred to an Mutijulu Aboriginal Community and then leased back to the
government for a period of 99 years. In 1986 the Australian Act gave the country
full independence from Britain while still retaining its Commonwealth membership
and the Queen as its sovereign head of state. In July 1987 Prime Minister Hawke
was re-elected for his third term in office and in the same year a Royal
Commission was set up to investigate the death rates of Aborigines in police
custody. In 1988 Australia celebrated its bi-centenary of colonization. In Mar
1990 the ALP with Prime Minister Hawke was re-elected for another term. In 1990
Australia sent three war ships to the US-led coalition forces that liberated
Kuwait after Iraq had invaded and annexed Kuwait in Aug. 1990. In July 1991 the
government controversially banned the mining of Coronation Hill in the Kakadu
National Park, Northern Territory over Aboriginal land rights. In Dec. 1991 the
former ALP treasurer, Paul Keating replaced Bob Hawke as party leader and Prime
Minister ending several months of internal party conflict. Also during 1991 as a
result of the deepening recession there were spectacular collapses of several
major banks and corporations on a large scale. Royal commissions such as the
infamous "WA Inc" investigating a coalition of corporate and political
corruption and misappropriation of government monies as well as trials of the
more famous bankrupts soon followed. During 1991 foreign relations with the USA
over wheat subsidies and Malaysia over the screening of a television series
called "Embassy" which they saw as mocking their country and
disrespectful to Islam were also damaged. In Feb. 1992 Bob Hawke resigned from
his safe Labor seat of Wills forcing a by-election which resulted in the
election of an independent, Phil Cleary. Also during 1992 Bob Hawke reneged on
his promise not to undermine the Prime Minister, by publicly attacking Keating.
Further woes for the ALP included damage as a result of a scandal involving the
arrest of a relative of the Labor power-broker Senator Graham Richardson on a
forgery charge. Sen. Richardson was latter forced to resign over his
relationship with this relative while in South Australia the Labor Premier was
also forced to resign over the losses of a State-owned bank. Relations with the
UK also soured in 1992 with Keating calling for the establishment of an
Australian republic and accusations of British abandonment of Australia and
South East Asia to the Japanese in WWII during the Queens royal tour in Feb.
1992. During 1992 Keating also incited hot nationalistic debate over his call
for a new national flag while relations with the USA continued to be strain over
grain subsidies and relations with Malaysia improved after production of the
program "Embassy" ceased. On Mar. 13, 1993 snap elections resulted in
the ALP being re-elected for a record fifth term. Although the opposition were
defeated John Hewson was re-elected as leader of the Liberal Party and appointed
a shadow ministry that included a record number of five women. Also during 1993
Keating setup a Republican Advisory Committee of prominent Australians which
keep the republican issue under debate. Additionally, debate also centered on
the High Court's Mabo decision which recognized native land title and
established a new entitlement to land for the indigenous inhabitants. On Sept.
2, 1993 Keating released a draft of proposed legislation, which included the
establishment of a federal tribunal to grant compensation for dispossessed
Aborigines and Islanders, to deal with the problems that arose with the ruling.
The legislation was ratified by both houses of Parliament on Deck. 22, 1993 to
take effect on Jan. 1, 1994. During 1993 foreign relations were focused on
mending the "trade" rift between Australia and the USA, and cementing
good foreign relations with the US. The economy also show signs of recovery with
the stabilizing factor of low inflation and a steady rise in the stock exchange,
although unemployment remain high and the government had enormous difficulties
with its proposed budget requiring revision three times.
The official currency is the Dollar (AUD) divided into 100 Cents.
Gross National Product; USD $310,050,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; AUD
$80,948,000,000 (1993). Imports; AUD $66,910,000,000 (1994). Exports; AUD
$62,839,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $4,655,000,000 (1993). Balance of
Trade; AUD -$5,021,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 9,003,000 or
49.5% of total population (1995). Unemployed; 7.9% (1995).
|Its main trading partners are China, Japan, Egypt, Indonesia
and the former USSR.
| Barley, Bauxite, Cattle, Coal, Copper, Diamonds, Fish, Fruit,
Gold, Iron Ore, Lead, Maize, Manganese, Natural Gas, Nickel, Oats, Opals, Oil,
Pigs, Rice, Rutile, Sheep, Sorghum, Sugar cane, Timber, Tin, Tobacco, Tungsten,
Uranium, Vegetables, Wheat, Zinc.
| Agriculture, Aluminum Refining and Smelting, Cement, Chemicals,
Fishing, Food Processing, Forestry, Iron and Steel, Light Engineering,
Machinery, Mining, Oil and Gas Production, Textiles and Clothing, Vehicles, Wool
and Hide Processing.
|Alumina, Aluminum, Beef, Coal, Iron Ore, Manufactured Goods, Petroleum
Products, Various Minerals, Veal, Wheat, Wool.
Railroads; route length 37,295 km (23,174 mi) (1991), passenger-km 2,187,120,000
(1,359,013,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 53,163,000,000 (36,411,000,000
short ton-mi) (1991). Roads; length 810,264 km (503,475 mi) (1990). Vehicles;
cars 7,913,200 (1992), trucks and buses 2,041,300 (1992). Merchant Marine;
vessels 695 (1992), deadweight tonnage 3,857,271 (1992). Air Transport;
passenger-km 41,279,000,000 (25,650,000,000 passenger-mi) (1991), cargo ton-km
2,578,029,000 (1,765,692,000 short ton-mi) (1991).
Daily Newspapers; total of 69 with a total circulation of 4,600,000 (1992).
Radio; receivers 20,000,000 (1994). Television; receivers 8,000,000 (1994).
Telephones; units 8,540,000 (1993).
56,100 (1995) total active duty personnel with 42.2% army, 26.7% navy and 31.1%
air force while military expenditure accounts for 2.4% (1993) of the Gross
National Product (GNP).
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Phone: 740-373-2068 Fax: 740-373-2081