Population: 22,843,820 (est.)
- The Australian dollar is the official currency of Australia.
- Religion in Australia is predominantly Christian. In the 2011 Census, 61.14% of the Australian population were recorded as adhering to Christianity with about 22.3% of people having no religious affiliation.
- Australia is one of the most obese countries in the world.
- It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area.
- Just over 25% of Australians were born in another country, making it the developed country with the highest proportion of migrant settlers in the world.
- Many visitors to Australia are surprised to discover kangaroo meat is actually eaten. While nowhere near as mainstream as chicken or beef, it nevertheless pops up on some restaurant menus.
- Australia was once a British penal colony for convicts from the United Kingdom.
Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories. The population of 22.7 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states due to geography and climate.
A highly developed country and one of the wealthiest, Australia is the world’s 12th-largest economy and has the world’s fifth-highest per capita income. Australia’s military expenditure is the world’s 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, 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.