web analytics

Overview of Australia

Australia, officially Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. This is the 6th biggest country in the world in terms of land size. Australia shares the borders with East Timor and Papua New Guinea (North); the island of Solomon, Vanuatu, and Nouvelle-Calédonie (France) (Northeast); and New Zealand (Southeast).

  • Total area: 7.692.024 km2
  • Time zone: UTC +8 to +10.5 (Winter); UTC +9 to +11.5 (Summer)
  • Capital: Canberra
  • The biggest city: Sydney
  • Official languages: none
  • Other language: English
  • Population (2018): 25.072.500

Geography and climate

The total land area of Australia is 7.617.930 km2 (2.941.300 sq mi). Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas, with the Coral Sea lying between Australia and New Zealand. 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’s size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with tropical rainforests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and desert in the centre. The desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. Australia is the driest inhabited continent; its annual rainfall averaged over continental area is less than 500mm. The population density is 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, the world’s lowest, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline.

Eastern Australia is marked by the Great Dividing Range, which runs parallel to the coast of Queensland, New South Wales and much of Victoria. 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 cause rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical, predominantly summer-rainfall (monsoon). The south-west corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate. Most of the south-east (including Tasmania) has a mild climate.

States and territories

Australia has six states:

New South Wales (NSW)

Queensland (QLD)

South Australia (SA)

Tasmania (TAS)

Victoria (VIC)

Western Australia (WA)

And two mainland territories: the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Northern Territory (NT)

Government and Economy

Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, which is a federation of separation of powers. The country has a parliamentary government, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as the head of state as Queen of Australia – a role separate from the monarchy of other countries in the Commonwealth. The Queen resides in the UK, the viceroys represent her in Australia (Governor at the federal level and Governor at the state level), by convention they act on the advice of ministers. The Australian Constitution grants the monarch supreme executive power, but the power to enforce it is vested in the Constitution exclusively with the Governor-General.

A wealthy country, Australia has a market economy, a high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, Australia ranked first in the world in 2013, but the poverty rate increased from 10.2% to 11.8% during the period of time from 2000/01 to 2003. It was identified by the Credit Suisse Research Institute as the nation with the highest median wealth in the world and the second-highest average wealth per adult in 2013.

Ranked third in the Index of Economic Freedom (2010), Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy.  The country was ranked third in the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index and ranked first in Legatum 2008 Prosperity Index.


School attendance, or registration for home schooling, is compulsory throughout Australia. Education is the responsibility of the individual states and territories so the rules vary between states, but in general children are required to attend school from the age of about 5 until about 16. In some states (e.g., Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales), children aged 16–17 are required to either attend school or participate in vocational training, such as an apprenticeship.

Australia has an adult literacy rate that was estimated to be 99% in 2003. However, a 2011–2012 report for the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Tasmania has a literacy and numeracy rate of only 50%. Australia has 37 government-funded universities and three private universities, as well as a number of other specialist institutions that provide approved courses at the higher education level.

The OECD places Australia among the most expensive nations to attend university. There is a state-based system of vocational training, known as TAFE. About 58% of Australians aged from 25 to 64 have vocational or tertiary qualifications, and the tertiary graduation rate of 49% is the highest among OECD countries. Australia’s population has attained a higher education qualification, which is among the highest percentages in the world.


Since 1788, Australian culture has primarily been a Western culture strongly influenced by early Anglo-Celtic settlers. Distinctive cultural features also emerge from Australia’s natural environment and indigenous culture. Since the mid-twentieth century, American popular culture has had a strong influence on Australia, especially through television and film. Other cultural influences come from neighboring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English speaking countries.