Australia ( or , or more
formally as ), officially the Commonwealth of
Australia, is a country in the
Hemisphere comprising the continental mainland (the world's smallest), the island of Tasmania, and
islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East
Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and
Caledonia to the
north-east, and New
Zealand to the southeast.
For some 40,000 years before European settlement commenced in the
late 18th century, the Australian mainland and Tasmania were
inhabited by around 250 individual nations of indigenous Australians
. After sporadic visits
by fishermen from the immediate north, and European discovery by
Dutch explorers in 1606, the eastern
half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of
Wales, founded on 26 January 1788.
grew steadily in the following years; the continent was explored,
and during the 19th century another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation
, and the
Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since Federation, Australia
has maintained a stable liberal
political system and remains a Commonwealth realm
. The population is
22.0 million, with approximately 60% concentrated in and
around the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. The nation's capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian
Capital Territory (ACT).
Australia is a developed country
with a prosperous multicultural
society and has excellent results in many international comparisons
of national performance such as health care, life expectancy,
quality of life, human development, public education, economic
freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political
rights. Australian cities routinely rank among the world's highest
in terms of cultural offerings and quality of life. It is a member
of the United Nations
, G-20 major economies
, Commonwealth of Nations
and the WTO
The name Australia
is derived from the Latin australis
meaning "southern". Legends of an "unknown land of the south"
(terra australis incognita
date back to Roman times and were commonplace in medieval geography
but were not based on any documented knowledge of the
The first recorded use of the word Australia
was in 1625, in "A note of Australia del Espíritu Santo, written by
Master Hakluyt", published by Samuel
in Hakluytus Posthumus
.The Dutch adjectival
form Australische was used by Dutch East India Company officials
in Batavia to refer to
the newly discovered land to the south in 1638.
was used in a 1693 translation of Les
Aventures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Découverte et le Voyage de la
, a 1676 French novel by Gabriel de Foigny
under the pen-name
Jacques Sadeur. Alexander
then used it in An Historical Collection of
Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean
refer to the entire South Pacific region. In 1793, George Shaw
and Sir James Smith
published Zoology and
Botany of New Holland
, in which they wrote of "the vast
island, or rather continent, of Australia, Australasia or New Holland
". It also appeared on a
1799 chart by James Wilson
The name Australia
was popularised by Matthew Flinders
, who, as early as 1804,
pushed for the name to be formally adopted. When preparing his
manuscript and charts for his 1814 A Voyage to Terra
, he was persuaded by his patron Sir Joseph Banks
to use the term Terra
as this was the name most familiar to the public.
Flinders did so, but allowed himself the footnote: This is the only
occurrence of the word Australia
in that text; but in
Appendix III, Robert Brown
General remarks, geographical and systematical, on the botany of
, Brown makes use of the adjectival form
throughout, this being the first known use of
that form. Despite popular conception, the book was not
instrumental in the adoption of the name: the name came gradually
to be accepted over the following ten years. Lachlan Macquarie
, a Governor of New South Wales
subsequently used the word in his dispatches to England, and on 12
December 1817 recommended to the Colonial Office that it be
formally adopted. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent
should be known officially as Australia
The word Australia
in Australian English
is pronounced . Since
early in the 20th century, the country has been sometimes referred
to locally and internationally as Oz
(less frequently spelt Ozzie
better representing the pronunciation) is common colloquially as an
adjective, and as a noun referring to an Australian.
Human habitation of Australia is estimated to have begun between
42,000 and 48,000 years ago. These first Australians may have been
ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians; they may have arrived
via land bridges
and short sea-crossings
from what is now Southeast Asia
of these people were hunter-gatherers
, with a complex oral culture
and spiritual values based on
reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime
. The Torres Strait Islanders
, were originally
horticulturalists & hunter-gatherers.
recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland was made by
the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon,
who sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606.
During the 17th century, the Dutch
charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines of what
they called New Holland, but they made no attempt at settlement. In
1770, James Cook
sailed along and mapped
the east coast of Australia, which he named New South Wales and
claimed for Great Britain. Cook's discoveries prepared the way for
establishment of a new penal colony
British Crown Colony of
New South Wales began a settlement at Port Jackson by Captain Arthur
Phillip on 26 January 1788.
This date was later to
become Australia's national day
. Van Diemen's
Land, now known as Tasmania, was settled in 1803 and
became a separate colony in 1825.
The United Kingdom
formally claimed the western part of Australia in 1829.
colonies were created from parts of New South Wales: South
Australia in 1836,
Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.
Territory was founded in 1911 when it was excised from South
South Australia was founded as a "free
province"—that is, it was never a penal colony. Victoria and
Western Australia were also founded "free" but later accepted
transported convicts. The transportation of convicts
to the colony of New South
Wales ceased in 1848 after a campaign by the settlers.
The Indigenous Australian population, estimated at 350,000 at the
time of European settlement, declined steeply for 150 years
following settlement, mainly because of infectious disease
. The "Stolen Generations
" (removal of
Aboriginal children from their families), which historians such as
argued could be considered genocide by some definitions, may have
contributed to the decline in the indigenous population. Such
interpretations of Aboriginal history are disputed by some
conservative commentators, such as former Prime Minister Howard
, as being exaggerated or fabricated for
political or ideological reasons. This debate is known within
Australia as the History Wars
Following the 1967 referendum
the Federal government gained the power to implement policies and
make laws with respect to Aborigines. Traditional ownership
of land—native title—was not recognised
until 1992, when the High Court case Mabo v
Queensland overturned the notion of Australia as
terra nullius (literally "no
one's land", effectively "empty land") at the time of European
A gold rush
began in Australia in the
early 1850s, and the Eureka Stockade
rebellion against mining licence fees in 1854 was an early
expression of civil disobedience
Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained
managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the
. The Colonial Office
in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign
affairs, defence, and international shipping. On 1 January 1901,
federation of the colonies
was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation, and voting.
The Commonwealth of Australia was born and it became a dominion
of the British Empire in 1907.
Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the Australian
Capital Territory) was formed from a part of New South Wales in 1911
to provide a location for the proposed new federal capital of
(Melbourne was the temporary seat of government
from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being constructed.) The
Northern Territory was transferred from the control of the South
Australian government to the Commonwealth in 1911. In 1914
Australia joined Britain in fighting World
, with support from both the outgoing Liberal Party and
the incoming Labor Party. The Australians took part in many of the
major battles fought on the Western Front
. Many Australians
regard the defeat of the Australian and New Zealand
(ANZACs) at Gallipoli
as the birth of the nation—its
first major military action. The Kokoda Track campaign
is regarded by
many as an analogous nation-defining event during World War II
Britain's Statute of
formally ended most of the constitutional
links between Australia and the UK. Australia adopted it
but backdated it to the beginning of World War II to confirm the
validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during
the war. The shock of the UK's defeat in Asia in 1942
threat of Japanese invasion caused Australia to turn to the
States as a new ally and protector.
Australia has been a formal military ally of the US, under the
treaty. After World War II, Australia
since the 1970s and the abolition of the White Australia policy
from Asia and elsewhere was also encouraged. As a result,
Australia's demography, culture, and self-image have been
transformed. The final constitutional ties between Australia and
the UK were severed with the passing of the Australia Act 1986
, ending any British
role in the government of the Australian States, and ending
judicial appeals to the UK Privy
. At the 1999 referendum
, 54% of
Australian voters rejected a proposal to become a republic with a
president appointed by two-thirds vote of both houses of the
Australian Parliament. Since the election of the Whitlam Government
in 1972, there has been an
increasing focus on the expansion of ties with other Pacific Rim
nations while maintaining close ties
with Australia's traditional allies and trading partners.
The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional democracy
based on a
division of powers. The form of
government used in Australia is a constitutional monarchy
is the Queen of
, a role that is distinct from her position as monarch
of the other Commonwealth realms
The Queen is represented by the Governor-General
level and by the Governors at state level. Although the Constitution
Governor-General, these are normally exercised only on the advice
of the Prime Minister
The most notable exercise of the Governor-General's reserve powers
outside the Prime Minister's
direction was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the
crisis of 1975
There are three branches of
consists of the Queen, the Senate
(the upper house) of 76 senators, and a House of Representatives
(the lower house) of 150 members. Members of the lower house are
elected from single-member constituencies, commonly known as
"electorates" or "seats", allocated to states on the basis of
population, with each original state guaranteed a minimum of five
seats. In the Senate, each state is represented by twelve senators,
and each of the territories (the Australian Capital Territory and
the Northern Territory) by two. Elections for both chambers are
normally held every three years, simultaneously; senators have
overlapping six-year terms, since only half of places in the Senate
are put to each election unless the cycle is interrupted by a
. The party
with majority support in the House of Representatives forms
government and its leader becomes Prime Minister.
There are two major political groups that form government,
federally and in the states: the Australian Labor Party
, and the
which is a formal
grouping of two parties: the Liberal Party
and its minor
partner, the National
. Independent members and several minor parties—including
and the Australian Democrats
representation in Australian parliaments, mostly in upper houses.
The Labor Party came to office with Kevin
as Prime Minister following the November 2007 election
Australian parliament (federal, state, and territory) then had a
Labor government until September 2008 when
the Liberal Party formed a minority government in association with
the National Party in Western Australia.
In the 2004 election
previous governing coalition led by John
won control of the Senate—the first time in more than 20
years that a party (or a coalition) has done so while in
government. Voting is compulsory
for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over, in each state and
territory and at the federal level. Enrolment to vote is compulsory
in all jurisdictions except South Australia.
States and territories
has six states—New South
Wales, Queensland, South
Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia—and two major mainland territories—the Northern
Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
In most respects these two
territories function as states, but the Commonwealth Parliament can
override any legislation of their parliaments. By contrast, federal
legislation only overrides state legislation in certain areas that
are set out in Section 51 of the
; state parliaments retain all residual
legislative powers, including powers over education, police, the
judiciary, roads, public transport, and local government.
Each state and major mainland territory has its own legislature
or parliament: unicameral
Northern Territory, the ACT, and Queensland, and bicameral in the
remaining states. The states are sovereign, though subject to
certain powers of the Commonwealth as defined by the Constitution.
The lower house
is known as the Legislative Assembly
(House of Assembly
in South Australia and
Tasmania) and the upper house
as the Legislative Council
head of the government
state is the Premier
, and in each
territory the Chief Minister
Queen is represented in each state by a Governor
; an Administrator
Northern Territory, and the Australian Governor-General in the ACT,
have analogous roles.
The federal government directly administers the following
Island is also technically an external territory; however,
under the Norfolk Island Act 1979 it has been granted more autonomy
and is governed locally by its own legislative assembly.
is represented by an
currently Owen Walsh
Foreign relations and military
Over recent decades, Australia's foreign relations
have been driven by a close association with the United States
through the ANZUS pact
, and by a desire to
develop relationships with Asia and the Pacific, particularly
and the Pacific Islands Forum
. In 2005
Australia secured an inaugural seat at the East Asia Summit
following its accession to
the Treaty of
Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia
. Australia is a member
of the Commonwealth of
, in which the Commonwealth Heads of
meetings provide the main forum for cooperation.
Australia has energetically pursued the cause of international
trade liberalisation. It led the formation of the Cairns Group
and Asia-Pacific Economic
. Australia is a member of the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization, and has
pursued several major bilateral free trade agreements, most
recently the Australia
– United States Free Trade Agreement and Closer Economic Relations with
Zealand. Australia is also negotiating a free trade
agreement with Japan, with whom
Australia has close economic ties as a trusted partner in the
along with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore
are party to the Five
Power Defence Arrangements
, a regional defence agreement.
founding member country of the United
Nations, Australia is strongly committed to multilateralism along with its middle power allies Canada and the
Nordic countries, and maintains an
international aid program under which some 60 countries receive
The 2005–06 budget provides A$2.5 billion
for development assistance; as a percentage of GDP, this
contribution is less than that recommended in the UN Millennium Development Goals
Australia ranks 7th overall in the Center for Global
's 2008 Commitment to Development
Australia's armed forces—the Australian Defence Force
(ADF)—comprise the Royal
(RAN), the Australian Army
, and the Royal Australian Air Force
(RAAF), in total numbering 73,000 personnel (including 53,000
regulars and 20,000 reservists). Australia's military is 68th largest in
, but one of the world's smallest in per
. All branches of the ADF have been involved
in UN and regional peacekeeping (most recently in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, and Sudan), disaster
relief, and armed conflict, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
government appoints the Chief of the Defence
from one of the armed services; the current Chief of the
Defence Force is Air Chief Marshal Angus
. In the 2006–07 budget, defence spending was
A$22 billion, accounting for less than 1% of
global military spending
. Australia was placed 27th on the 2008
Global Peace Index
, primarily due
to its presence in Afghanistan
the Governor-General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian
Defence Force, he or she does not play an active part in the ADF's
command structure as the elected Australian Government controls the
Australia's landmass of is on the Indo-Australian Plate
. Surrounded by the
Indian and Pacific oceans, Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor
The world's smallest continent
largest country by total area
, Australia – owing to its size
and isolation – is often dubbed the 'island
continent' and variably considered the world's largest island
has of coastline (excluding all offshore islands) and claims an
extensive Exclusive Economic
of . This exclusive economic zone does not include the
Australian Antarctic Territory.
Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral
reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast and
extends for over . Mount Augustus, claimed to be the world's largest monolith, is located in Western Australia.
Kosciuszko on the Great Dividing Range is the highest mountain on the Australian mainland,
Peak on the remote Australian territory of Heard
Island is taller at .
The Commonwealth of Australia seen
By far the largest part of Australia is desert
or semi-arid lands commonly
known as the outback
. Australia is the
flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils, and is
the driest inhabited continent. Only the south-east and south-west
corners of the continent have a temperate climate
. The population
, 2.8 inhabitants per square
, is among the lowest in the world, although a great
proportion of the population lives along the temperate
The landscapes of the northern part of the country, with a tropical
climate, consist of rainforest
swamps, and desert. The climate is
significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole
and the El Niño-Southern
, which is correlated with periodic drought
, and the seasonal tropical low
pressure system that produces cyclones
Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a
diverse range of habitats from alpine
heaths to tropical rainforests
and is recognised as a megadiverse
. Because of the continent's great age, its extremely
variable weather patterns, and its long-term geographic isolation,
much of Australia's biota
and diverse. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more
than 45% of birds
89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemic
. Australia has the greatest number of
reptiles of any country, with 755 species.
Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those
regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced
plant and animal
species. The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999
is a legal framework for the protection
of threatened species. Numerous protected areas
created under the national Biodiversity Action Plan
and preserve unique ecosystems; 64 wetlands are registered under
the Ramsar Convention
, and 15
natural World Heritage Sites
have been established. Australia was ranked 46th of 149 countries
in the world on the 2008 Environmental Performance
. Australian forests
often contain a wide variety of eucalyptus
trees and are mostly located in higher
Most Australian woody plant species are evergreen and many are
adapted to fire and drought, including many eucalypts
Australia has a rich variety of endemic legume
species that thrive in nutrient-poor soils
because of their symbiosis with rhizobia
bacteria and mycorrhizal
well-known Australian fauna
and the echidna
host of marsupials
, including the kangaroo
, the koala
, and the
; the saltwater
crocodiles; and birds such
as the emu
and the kookaburra
. Australia is home to many dangerous animals
some of the most venomous snakes
in the world.
was introduced by Austronesian
people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 BCE
. Many plant and animal species became extinct
soon after first human settlement, including the Australian megafauna
; others have
become extinct since European settlement, among them the thylacine
become an increasing concern in Australia in recent years, with
many Australians considering protection of the environment to be
the most important issue facing the country. The first Rudd Ministry
several emission reduction activities; Rudd's first official act,
on his first day in office, was to sign the instrument of
ratification of the Kyoto Protocol
Nevertheless Australia's carbon
dioxide emissions per capita
are one of the highest in the
world, lower than only a few other industrialised nations including
the United States and Canada. Rainfall in Australia has slightly
increased over the past century, both nationwide and for two
quadrants of the nation, while annual mean temperatures increased
significantly over the past decades. Water restrictions
currently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in
response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and
Australian dollar is the currency
of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos
(Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent
Pacific Island state of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu.
After the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange
the Sydney Futures Exchange
, the Australian Securities
is now the 9th largest in the World.
Australia is one of the most laissez-faire free
economies, according to indices of economic
. Australia's per capita GDP is slightly higher than that of
States, UK, Germany, and France.
The country was ranked second in the United Nations
2009 Human Development Index
, first in
, and sixth
in The Economist
2005. All of Australia's major cities fare well in global
comparative liveability surveys; Melbourne reached 2nd place on
s 2008 World's Most Livable Cities
list, followed by Perth at 4th, Adelaide at 7th, and Sydney at
An emphasis on exporting commodities
rather than manufactures
has underpinned a significant
increase in Australia's terms of
during the rise in commodity prices since the start of
the century. Australia has a balance of payments
more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large
deficits for more
than 50 years. Australia has grown at an average annual rate of
3.6% for over 15 years, a period in which the OECD annual average
was 2.5%. Australia did not fall into a technical recession during
the late 2000s recession
affected most other Western countries
Destination and value of Australian
exports in 2006
The Hawke Government
Australian dollar in 1983 and partially deregulated the financial
system. The Howard Government
followed with a partial deregulation of the
and the further privatisation
of state-owned businesses, most
notably in the telecommunications
The indirect tax system was substantially changed in July 2000 with
the introduction of a 10% Goods and Services Tax
(GST), which has slightly reduced the reliance on personal and
company income tax that characterises Australia's tax system
In January 2007, there were 10,033,480 people employed, with
an unemployment rate of 4.6%. Over the past decade, inflation has
typically been 2–3% and the base interest rate 5–6%. The service sector
of the economy, including
tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for 69% of
GDP. Although agriculture
and natural resources account for only 3% and 5% of GDP
respectively, they contribute substantially to export performance
. Australia's largest
export markets are Japan, China, the US, South Korea, and New
||Non Indigenous population
Most of the estimated 22.0 million Australians are descended
from colonial-era settlers and post-Federation immigrants from
, with almost 90% of the population
being of European
generations, the vast majority of both colonial-era settlers and
post-Federation immigrants came almost exclusively from the
Isles, and the people of Australia are still mainly of
British or Irish ethnic origin.
In the 2006
Australian Census, the most commonly nominated ancestry was
Australian (37.13%), followed by English
(3.37%), and Greek
Australia's population has quadrupled since the end of World War I
,spurred by an ambitious immigration
World War II
and through to 2000,
almost 5.9 million of the total population settled in the
country as new immigrants, meaning that nearly two out of every
seven Australians were born overseas. Most immigrants are skilled,
but the immigration quota includes categories for family members
In 2001, the five largest groups of the 23.1% of Australians who
were born overseas were from the United Kingdom
, New Zealand,
, and China
. Following the abolition of the
White Australia policy
1973, numerous government initiatives have been established to
encourage and promote racial harmony based on a policy of multiculturalism
.In 2005–06, more than
131,000 people emigrated to Australia, mainly from Asia
. The migration
target for 2006–07 was 144,000. The total immigration quota for
2008–09 is around 300,000—its highest level since the Immigration
Department was created after World War II.
Nearly three quarters of Australians
live in metropolitan cities and coastal areas.
Indigenous population—mainland Aborigines and Torres
Strait Islanders—was counted at 410,003 (2.2% of the total
population) in 2001, a significant increase from the 1976 census,
which counted an indigenous population of 115,953.
The beach is an integral part of the Australian
number of Indigenous people are not identified in the Census due to
undercount and cases where their Indigenous status is not recorded
on the form; after adjusting for these factors, the ABS estimated
the true figure for 2001 to be approximately 460,140 (2.4% of the
Indigenous Australians experience higher than average rates of
imprisonment and unemployment, lower levels of education, and life
expectancies for males and females that are 11–17 years lower than
those of non-indigenous Australians. Some remote Indigenous
communities have been described as having "failed state
(3rd last paragraph).
In common with many other developed countries, Australia is
experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with
more retirees and fewer people of working age. In 2004, the
of the civilian
population was 38.8 years. A large number of Australians (759,849
for the period 2002–03) live outside their home country.
is the national language
. Australian English
is a major variety of
the language, with its own distinctive accent and vocabulary (some
of which has found its way into other varieties of English), but
less internal dialectal variation (apart from small regional
pronunciation and lexical variations) than either British or
American English. Grammar and spelling are largely based on those
of British English
. According to the
2001 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for
around 80% of the population. The next most common languages spoken
at home are Chinese
(1.9%), and Greek
A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants
are bilingual. It is believed that there were between 200 and 300
at the time of first European contact. Only about 70
of these languages have survived, and many are only spoken by older
people; only 18 Indigenous languages are still spoken by all age
groups. An indigenous language remains the main language for about
50,000 (0.25%) people. Australia has a sign language
known as Auslan
, which is the main language of about 6,500
Australia has no state religion
the 2006 census, 64% of Australians were listed as Christian
of any denomination, including 26% as
19% as Anglican
. "No religion
" (which includes
) accounted for 19% and is
the fastest growing group (refer difference in census 2006 versus
census 2001 results) and a further 12% declined to answer or did
not give a response adequate for interpretation. The second largest
religion in Australia is Buddhism
followed by Islam
(1.7%) and Hinduism
(0.8%). Overall less than 6% of
Australians identify with non-Christian religions. Weekly
attendance at church services in 2004 was about 1.5 million: about
7.5% of the population, and religion does not play a central role
in the lives of a large portion of the population.
School attendance is compulsory throughout Australia. In most
Australian States at 5–6 years of age all children receive 11 years
of compulsory education, then can move on to complete two more
years (Years 11 and 12), contributing to an adult literacy rate
that is assumed to be 99%. The Programme for
International Student Assessment
, coordinated by the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development
ranks Australia's education as the eighth best in the world.
Government grants have supported the establishment of Australia's
38 universities the majority of universities receive government
funding. There is a state-based system of vocational training,
higher than colleges, known as TAFE Institutes
, and many
trades conduct apprenticeships for training new tradespeople.
Approximately 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. The ratio of international to
local students in tertiary education in Australia is the highest in
the OECD countries.
Since 1788, the primary basis of Australian culture has been
Anglo-Celtic Western culture
. Distinctive Australian
cultural features have also arisen from the country's natural
environment and Indigenous cultures. Since the middle of the 20th
century, Australian culture has been strongly influenced by
, particularly through television and cinema. Other
cultural influences are from neighbouring Asian countries, and
through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking
Australian visual arts
thought to have begun with the cave
and bark paintings of its Indigenous peoples. The traditions of
Indigenous Australians are largely transmitted orally and are tied
to ceremony and the telling of the stories of the Dreamtime
. From the time of European settlement, a
theme in Australian art
been the Australian landscape, seen for example in the works of
, Arthur Streeton
and others associated with
the Heidelberg School
. The country's landscape
remains sources of inspiration for Australian modernist artists
; it has been depicted in
acclaimed works by artists such as Sidney
, Grace Cossington
, Fred Williams
, Sydney Long
, and Clifton
. Australian artists influenced by the modern American and
European art include cubist Grace Crowley
, surrealist James
expressionist Brett Whiteley
pop artist Martin
. The National Gallery of Australia and the various state galleries maintain Australian
and overseas collections, from early in the 20th century until the
Many of Australia's performing arts companies (see Theatre of Australia
and Dance in Australia
) receive funding
through the federal government's Australia Council
. There is a
symphony orchestra in each of the states' capital cities, and a
national opera company, Opera
, which became prominent through the singer Joan Sutherland
. Nellie Melba
was her famous predecessor. Ballet
and dance are represented by The
and various state dance companies. Each state
has a publicly funded theatre company.
The Australian cinema industry
began with the 1906 release of the The Story of the Kelly
, which is regarded as being the world's first
film. The New Wave of Australian cinema
1970s brought provocative and successful films, some exploring the
nation's colonial past, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock
and Breaker Morant
Later hits included Mad Max
recent successes included Shine
, Rabbit-Proof Fence
. Australia's diverse
landscapes and cities have served as primary locations for many
other films, such as The Matrix
well-known Australian actors include Judith Anderson
, Errol Flynn
, Hugh Jackman
, Heath Ledger
, Toni Collette
, Naomi Watts
, and current joint director of the
Sydney Theatre Company
been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as
, Henry Lawson
, and Dorothea Mackellar
experience of the Australian bush
character of colonial Australia, as represented in early
literature, is popular with modern Australians. In 1973, Patrick White
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
only Australian to have achieved this. Colleen McCullough
, Thomas Keneally
, David Williamson
, and David Malouf
are also renowned writers.
has two public broadcasters (the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service),
three commercial television
networks, several pay-TV services, and numerous public,
non-profit television and radio stations (see Television in Australia and Media of Australia).
city has daily newspapers, and there are two national daily
newspapers, The Australian
and The Australian
. According to Reporters Without Borders
Australia was in 25th position on a list of 173 countries ranked by
, behind New
Zealand (7th) and the United Kingdom (23rd) but ahead of the United
States (48th). This low ranking is primarily because of the limited
diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia; in
particular, most Australian print media
are under the control of News
Australian food traditions
been shaped by those that have settled in Australia. Throughout the
majority of Australian history, Australian cuisine was based on
traditional British food
, brought to
the country by the first British settlers. Later, in the 19th
and especially 20th century, food began to reflect the influences
of Mediterranean and Asian culture,
introduced by many immigrants who arrived in Australia during this
Approximately 24% Australians over the age of 15 regularly
participate in organised sporting
activities in Australia
. Australia has strong international
teams in cricket
, soccer / football
, field hockey
, rugby union
, and performs
well in cycling, rowing, and swimming. Some of Australia's most
successful sportspersons are swimmers Dawn
, Murray Rose
, and Ian Thorpe
, sprinter Betty Cuthbert
, tennis players Rod Laver
, and cricketer Donald
. Nationally, other popular sports include Australian rules football
racing, surfing, football
(soccer), and motor racing. Australia has participated in every
summer Olympic Games
of the modern
era, and every Commonwealth
. Australia hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics
in Melbourne and
the 2000 Summer Olympics
Sydney, and has ranked among the top six medal-takers since 2000.
Australia has also hosted the 1938
, and 2006 Commonwealth Games
major international events held in Australia include the Grand Slam Australian Open tennis tournament, international cricket matches,
and the Formula One Australian Grand Prix.
The highest-rating television programs
include sports coverage such as the summer Olympic Games, State of Origin
, and the
of the National Rugby League
and Australian Football League
- Australia also has a royal anthem,
"God Save the Queen ", which is
played in the presence of a member of the Royal family when they are in Australia. In all
other appropriate contexts, the national
anthem of Australia, "Advance
Australia Fair", is played.
- English does not have de
- There are minor variations from these three time zones, see
Time in Australia.
- Australia describes the body of water south
of its mainland as the Southern Ocean, rather than the Indian Ocean as defined by the International
Hydrographic Organization (IHO). In 2000, a vote of IHO
member nations defined the term "Southern Ocean" as applying only
to the waters between Antarctica and 60 degrees south latitude.
- The Oxford English
Dictionary records a first occurrence in 1908, in the form
- Oz is often taken as an oblique reference to the
fictional Land of Oz in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939),
based on L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
(1900). Australians' "image of Australia as a 'Land of Oz' is not
new, and dedication to it runs deep". The spelling Oz is
likely to have been influenced by the 1939 film, though the
pronunciation was probably always with a /z/, as it is also for
Aussie, sometimes spelt Ozzie. The Baz Luhrmann film Australia (2008) makes repeated
reference to The Wizard of Oz, which appeared just before
the wartime action of Australia. One reviewer writes: "You
even nod with approval at Luhrmann's audacity for cribbing from
'The Wizard of Oz' in his depiction of his Land of Oz, Australia,
as a magical place over the rainbow." Some critics have even
speculated that Baum was inspired by Australia, in naming the
Land of Oz: "In Ozma of Oz (1907) Dorothy gets
back to Oz as the result of a storm at sea while she and Uncle
Henry are traveling by ship to Australia. So, like Australia, Oz is
somewhere to the west of California. Like Australia, Oz is an
island continent. Like Australia, Oz has inhabited regions
bordering on a great desert. One might almost imagine that Baum
intended Oz to be Australia, or perhaps a magical land in the
center of the great Australian desert."
- "Ocker, n2 Austral.
slang. ... A rough, uncultivated, or aggressively boorish
Australian man (esp. as a stereotype)" SOED.
- "Smallest continent and sixth largest country (in area) on
Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans."
- "Most people recognize seven continents—Asia, Africa, North
America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia, from
largest to smallest—although sometimes Europe and Asia are
considered a single continent, Eurasia."
- First Australians Documentary (Episode 1), Special
Broadcasting Service, Australia, 2008.
- Both Australian Aborigines and Europeans Rooted in
Africa - 50,000 years ago.
- MacKnight, CC (1976). The Voyage to Marege: Macassan
Trepangers in Northern Australia. Melbourne University
- Purchas, vol. iv, pp. 1422–32, 1625. This appears to be
variation of the original Spanish "Austrialia"
[sic]. A copy at the Library of Congress can be read
- Sidney J. Baker, The Australian Language, second
- Estensen p. 450.
- Weekend Australian, 30–31 December 2000, p. 16
- Australian pronunciations: Macquarie
Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The
Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3.
- Gillespie, R. (2002). Dating the first Australians.
- Convict Records Public Record office of
Victoria; State Records Office of Western Australia.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 1998 Special
Article—The State of New South Wales.
- Smith, L. (1980), The Aboriginal Population of Australia,
University Press, Canberra.
- Bain Attwood, Telling the Truth about Aboriginal
History. (2005) online edition.
- Stuart Macintyre, The Oxford History of Australia: vol
4 (1986), p. 142; C. Bean Ed. (1941). Volume I - The Story of Anzac: the first phase, First
World War Official Histories, Eleventh Edition.
- Macintyre, 151–3; Liz Reed, Bigger than Gallipoli: war,
history, and memory in Australia (2004) p. 5 online.
- Hank Nelson, "Gallipoli, Kokoda and the Making of National
Identity", Journal of Australian Studies, (1997) v. 53#1
pp. 148–160 online edition.
- Australia Act text.
- Parliamentary Library (1997). The Reserve Powers of the Governor-General.
- Japan-Australia Relations, www.mofa.go.jp.
- Australian Government. (2005). Budget
- Center for Global Development. Commitment to Development Index: Australia,
www.cgdev.org. Retrieved on 5 January 2008.
- (pp. 99–100).
- Australian Department of Defence (2006). Portfolio Budget Statements 2006–07. p.
- Everingham, Sara. Australia ranks 27th on peace index (2008),
www.abc.net.au Retrieved on 23 January 2008.
- "Being surrounded by ocean, Australia often is referred to as
an island continent. As a continental landmass it is significantly
larger than the many thousands of fringing islands ..."
- "Mainland Australia, with an area of 7.69 million square
kilometres, is the Earth’s largest island but smallest
- No more drought: it's a "permanent dry";
Australia's epic drought: The situation is
- Lambertini, A Naturalist's Guide to the Tropics,
excerpt at www.press.uchicago.edu.
- "Snake Bite", The Australian Venom Compendium.
- Savolainen, P. et al. 2004. A detailed picture of the origin of
the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United
States of America. 101:12387–12390 PMID.
- Humans to blame for extinction of Australia's
megafauna. The University of Melbourne.
- Atmosphere: Major issue: climate change,
Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2006.
poll finds ‘it’s the environment, stupid’, www.anu.edu.au.
Retrieved on 8 January 2008.
- Australia Sets Target of 15% Carbon Reduction by
2020, Announces 2010 Carbon Market, www.greencarcongress.com.
Retrieved on 8 January 2008.
- Saving Australia's water, BBC News, 23 April
- Melbourne 'world's top city' (2004), The
Age. Retrieved on 31 January 2009.
- " Liveability ranking: Urban idylls.
- Downwonder The Economist, 29 March 2007.
- Australia able to avoid recession, BBC News,
Wednesday, 3 June 2009.
- Macfarlane, I. J. (1998). Australian Monetary Policy in the Last Quarter of
the Twentieth Century. Reserve Bank of Australia
- Parham, D. (2002). Microeconomic reforms and the revival in Australia’s
growth in productivity and living standards. Conference of
Economists, Adelaide, 1 October.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Labour Force Australia.
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2003). Advancing
the National Interest, Appendix 1.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Year Book Australia 2005.
- 19th century figures do not include the indigenous
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics have stated that most who
list "Australian" as their ancestry are part of the Anglo-Celtic group. 
- Australian Immigration Fact Sheet.
- Australian Population: Ethnic Origins.
- Settler numbers on the rise.
- Inflow of foreign-born population by country of
birth, by year; Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 20. Migration Programme
- Immigration intake to rise to 300,000,
- 300,000 skilled workers needed - Evans.
- The Beach, www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au. Retrieved
on 31 January 2009.
- Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library (2005). Australia’s aging workforce.
- Parliament of Australia, Senate (2005). Inquiry into Australian Expatriates.
- "English has no de jure status but it is so entrenched as the
common language that it is de facto the official language as well
as the national language."
- (See subsection titled "Religion").
- NCLS releases latest estimates of church
attendance, National Church Life Survey, Media release, 28
- Morris, Lindy. God's OK, it's just the religion bit we don't
like (2008), Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 5
- OECD 42/8/39700724.
- Education at Glance 2005 by OECD: Percentage of
foreign students in tertiary education.
- Welch, David. " Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery", aaia.com.au. Retrieved
on 2 November 2008.
- Barr, Trevor. " Media Ownership in Australia",
australianpolitics.com. Retrieved on 2 January 2008.
- ABS medal tally: Australia finishes third,
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved on 25 January 2008.
- "Australian Film Commission. What are Australians Watching?"
Free-to-Air, 1999–2004 TV.
- It's an Honour - Symbols - Australian National
Anthem and DFAT
- "The Australian National Anthem";
- Jacobson, H., In the Land of Oz, Penguin, 1988, ISBN
- The Americana Annual: 1988, Americana Corporation,
vol. 13, 1989, p. 66, ISBN 0717202208.
- Partridge, E., et al., The New Partridge Dictionary of
Slang and Unconventional English, Taylor & Francis, 2006,
ISBN 041525938X, entries "Oz" and "Ozzie", p. 1431.
- " 'Australia' too big to be controlled", The Salt Lake
- Algeo, J., "Australia as the Land of Oz", American
Speech, Vol. 65, No. 1, 1990, pp. 86–89.
- Denoon, Donald, et al. (2000). A History of Australia, New
Zealand, and the Pacific. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN
- Hughes, Robert (1986). The Fatal Shore: The Epic of
Australia's Founding. Knopf. ISBN 0394506685.
- Macintyre, Stuart (2000). A Concise History of
Australia. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN
- Powell JM (1988). An Historical Geography of Modern
Australia: The Restive Fringe. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0521256194.
- Robinson GM, Loughran RJ, and Tranter PJ (2000) Australia
and New Zealand: economy, society and environment. London:
Arnold; NY: OUP; 0-340-72033-6 paper 0-340-72032-8 hard).