Languages: English 78.5%, Chinese 2.5%, others 19%
Capital: Canberra
Largest cities: Sydney
Currency: Australian dollar
National Holiday: Australia Day, January 26
Literacy rate: 99%
Ethnicity: Caucasian 92%, Asian 7%, others 1%
Religions: Protestant 27.4%, Catholic 25.8%, Eastern Orthodox 2.7%, other Christian 7.9%, Buddhist 2.1%, Muslim 1.7%, others 32.4%

Economic summary

GDP/PPP $917.7 billion (2011 est.); per capita $40,800. Real growth rate: 1.8%. Inflation: 3.4%. Unemployment: 5.1%. Arable land: 6.15%. Agriculture: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry. Labor force: 12.05 million; agriculture 3.6%, industry 21.1%, services 70.4% (2011 est.). Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel. Natural resources: bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum. Exports: $266 billion (2011 est.): coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment. Imports: $236.3 billion (2011 est.): machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products. Major trading partners: China, US, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, India, Germany, Malaysia (2010).


Telephones: main lines in use: 8.66 million (2011); mobile cellular: 22.5 million (2011). Broadcast media: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) runs multiple national and local radio networks and TV stations, as well as Australia Network, a TV service that broadcasts throughout the Asia-Pacific region and is the main public broadcaster; Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a second large public broadcaster, operates radio and TV networks broadcasting in multiple languages; several large national commercial TV networks, a large number of local commercial TV stations, and hundreds of commercial radio stations are accessible; cable and satellite systems are available (2008). Internet hosts: 16.952 million (2011). Internet users: 15.81 million (2011).


Railways: total: 38,445 km. Highways: total: 818,356 km (2011). Waterways: 2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2006). Ports and terminals: Brisbane, Cairns, Dampier, Darwin, Fremantle, Gladstone, Geelong, Hay Point, Hobart, Jervis Bay, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Adelaide, Port Dalrymple, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Lincoln, Port Walcott, Sydney. Airports: 465 (2012).


The continent of Australia, with the island state of Tasmania, is approximately equal in area to the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Mountain ranges run from north to south along the east coast, reaching their highest point in Mount Kosciusko (7,308 ft; 2,228 m). The western half of the continent is occupied by a desert plateau that rises into barren, rolling hills near the west coast. The Great Barrier Reef, extending about 1,245 mi (2,000 km), lies along the northeast coast. The island of Tasmania (26,178 sq mi; 67,800 sq km) is off the southeast coast.


Democracy. Symbolic executive power is vested in the British monarch, who is represented throughout Australia by the governor-general.