Australia 1999Australia

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Australia - Introduction 1999
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Background: Australia became a British commonwealth in 1901. Blessed by rich natural resources, the country enjoyed rapid gains in herding, agriculture, and manufacturing and made a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Australia subsequently developed its minerals, metals, and fossil fuel markets, all of which have become key Australian exports. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef. Sydney will host the 2000 summer Olympics.

Australia - Geography 1999
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Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

Geographic coordinates: 27 00 S, 133 00 E

Map referenceOceania

Total: 7,686,850 km²
Land: 7,617,930 km²
Water: 68,920 km²
Note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island
Comparative: slightly smaller than the US

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 25,760 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

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

Extremes lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
Extremes highest point: Mount Kosciusko 2,229 m

Natural resources: bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 6%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 54%
Forests and woodland: 19%
Other: 21% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 21,070 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts

Note: world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; regular, tropical, invigorating, sea breeze known as "the Doctor" occurs along the west coast in the summer

Australia - People 1999
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Population: 18,783,551 (July 1999 est.)
Growth rate: 0.9% (1999 est.)
Below poverty line: NA%

Noun: Australian(s)
Adjective: Australian

Ethnic groups: Caucasian 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%

Languages: English, native languages

Religions: Anglican 26.1%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24.3%, non-Christian 11%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 21% (male 2,023,569; female 1,926,901)
15-64 years: 66% (male 6,317,045; female 6,172,735)
65 years and over: 13% (male 1,022,485; female 1,320,816) (1999 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 0.9% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 13.21 births/1000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 6.9 deaths/1000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 2.66 migrant(s)/1000 population (1999 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

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
International agreements party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
International agreements signed but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 5.11 deaths/1000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 80.14 years
Male: 77.22 years
Female: 83.23 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.81 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 100%
Male: 100%
Female: 100% (1980 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Australia - Government 1999
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Country name
Conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
Conventional short form: Australia

Government type: democratic, federal-state system recognizing the British monarch as sovereign

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: (6) Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island

Independence: 1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)

National holiday: Australia Day, 26 January (1788)

Constitution: 9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901

Legal system: based on English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir William DEANE (since 16 February 1996)
Head of government: Prime Minister John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996); Deputy Prime Minister Timothy Andrew FISCHER (since 11 March 1996)
Cabinet: Cabinet selected from among the members of Federal Parliament by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
Elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general for a three-year term

Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats_12 from each of the six states and two from each of the two territories; one-half of the members elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (148 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve three-year terms; no state can have fewer than five representatives)
Elections: Senate_last held 3 October 1998 (next to be held by October 2001); House of Representatives_last held 3 October 1998 (next to be held by October 2001)
Election results: Senate_percent of vote by party_NA; seats by party_Liberal-National 35, Labor 29, Australian Democrats 9, Greens 1, One Nation 1, independent 1; House of Representatives_percent of vote by party_NA; seats by party_Liberal-National 80, Labor 67, independent 1

Judicial branch: High Court, the Chief Justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ANZUS, APEC, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MTCR, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Andrew Sharp PEACOCK
In the us chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,036
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 797-3,000
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 797-3,168
In the us consulates general: Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Genta Hawkins HOLMES
From the us embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2,600
From the us mailing address: APO AP 96,549
From the us telephone: [61] (6) 6,214-5,600
From the us FAX: [61] (6) 6,214-5,970
From the us consulates general: Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney

Flag descriptionflag of Australia: blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant; the remaining half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Australia - Economy 1999
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Economy overview: Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP at the level of the four dominant West European economies. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Commodities account for 57% of the value of total exports, so that a downturn in world commodity prices can have a big impact on the economy. The government is pushing for increased exports of manufactured goods, but competition in international markets continues to be severe. Australia has suffered from the low growth and high unemployment characterizing the OECD countries in the early 1990s, but the economy has expanded at reasonably steady rates in recent years. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is a key factor behind the economy's resilience to the regional crisis and its stronger than expected growth rate that reached 4.5% last year. After a slow start in 1998, exports rebounded in the second half of the year because of a sharp currency depreciation and a redirection of sales to Europe, North America, and Latin America.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 4.5% (1998 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 4%
Industry: 31%
Services: 65% (1997 est.)

Agriculture products: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry

Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel

Industrial production growth rate: 1.2% (1995)

Labor force: 9.2 million (December 1997)
By occupation services: 73%
By occupation industry: 22%
By occupation agriculture: 5% (1997est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 8.1% (1998)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA%

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $90.73 billion
Expenditures: $89.04 billion, including capital expenditures of $N/A (FY98/99 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: 1 July_30 June

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $56 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)
Commodities: coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Partners: Japan 20%, ASEAN 16%, EU 10%, South Korea 9%, US 9%, NZ 8%, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China (1997)

Imports: $61 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)
Commodities: machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products
Partners: EU 25%, US 23%, Japan 13%, China, NZ (1997)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $156 billion (June 1997)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Australian dollars ($A) per US$1: 1.56 (February 1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997), 1.2773 (1996), 1.3486 (1995), 1.3668 (1994)

Australia - Energy 1999
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 166.683 billion kWh (1996)
By source fossil fuel: 91.14%
By source hydro: 8.84%
By source nuclear: 0%
By source other: 0.02% (1996)

Electricity consumption: 166.683 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity exports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity imports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Australia - Communication 1999
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: excellent domestic and international service
Domestic: domestic satellite system
International: submarine cables to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia; satellite earth stations_10 Intelsat (4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean), 2 Inmarsat (Indian and Pacific Ocean Regions)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Australia - Military 1999
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $6.9 billion (FY97/98)
Percent of gdp: 1.9% (FY97/98)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Australia - Transportation 1999
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 408 (1998 est.)
With paved runways total: 262
With paved runways over 3047 m: 11
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 11
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 112
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 120
With paved runways under 914 m: 8 (1998 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 146
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 19
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 114
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 13 (1998 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 262
Over 3047 m: 11
2438 to 3047 m: 11
15-24 to 2437 m: 112
914 to 1523 m: 120
Under 914 m: 8 (1998 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 146
15-24 to 2437 m: 19
914 to 1523 m: 114
Under 914 m: 13 (1998 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 2,500 km; petroleum products 500 km; natural gas 5,600 km

Total: 38,563 km (2,914 km electrified)
Broad gauge: 6,083 km 1.600-m gauge
Standard gauge: 16,752 km 1.435-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 15,728 km 1.067-m gauge
Dual gauge: 172 km NA gauges


Waterways: 8,368 km; mainly by small, shallow-draft craft

Merchant marine
Total: 57 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,767,387 GRT/2,426,710 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 29, cargo 3, chemical tanker 4, container 4, liquefied gas tanker 4, oil tanker 8, passenger 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 4 (1998 est.)

Ports and terminals

Australia - Transnational issues 1999
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Disputes international: territorial claim in Antarctica (Australian Antarctic Territory)

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: Tasmania is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate


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