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States and territories of Australia: Map


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The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states and two major mainland territories. There are also lesser territories that are under the administration of the federal government.

Map showing the creation of the colonies/states and mainland territories.

States and Territories

Reference map for States and Territories of Australia

States and Territories of Australia
Flag State/Territory name ISO Postal Type Capital Population Area (km²)
Ashmore and Cartier Islandsmarker External (West Islet) 0 199
Australian Antarctic Territory External (Mawson Stationmarker) 1,000 5,896,500
Australian Capital Territorymarker AU-ACT ACT Territory Canberramarker 344,200 2,358
Christmas Islandmarker CX External Flying Fish Covemarker 1,493 135
Cocos Islandsmarker CC External West Islandmarker 628 14
Coral Sea Islands Territorymarker External (Willis Islandmarker) 3 10
Heard Island and McDonald Islandsmarker HM External (Atlas Cove) 0 144
Jervis Bay Territorymarker + JBT Territory (Jervis Bay Village) 611 70
New South Walesmarker AU-NSW NSW State Sydneymarker 6,967,200 800,642
Norfolk Islandmarker NF External Kingstonmarker 2,114 35
Northern Territorymarker AU-NT NT Territory Darwinmarker 219,900 1,349,129
Queenslandmarker AU-QLD QLD State Brisbanemarker 4,279,400 1,730,648
South Australiamarker AU-SA SA State Adelaidemarker 1,601,800 983,482
Tasmaniamarker AU-TAS TAS State Hobartmarker 500,000 68,401
Victoriamarker AU-VIC VIC State Melbournemarker 5,297,600 227,416
Western Australiamarker AU-WA WA State Perthmarker 2,163,200 2,529,875
+ Formerly part of ACT

See also: List of State Codes

Australia has had three now-defunct territories in its history:

Background and overview

The states originated as separate British colonies prior to Federation (in 1901). Their powers are protected by the Australian constitution, and Commonwealth legislation only applies to the states where permitted by the constitution. The territories, by contrast, are from a constitutional perspective directly subject to the Commonwealth government. The Australian Parliament has powers to legislate in the territories that it does not possess in the states.

Most of the territories are directly administered by the Commonwealth government, while three (the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island) administer themselves. In the self-governing territories the Australian Parliament retains the full power to legislate, and can override laws made by the territorial institutions, which it has done on rare occasions. For the purposes of Australian (and joint Australia-New Zealand) intergovernmental bodies, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are treated as states.

Furthermore, the distribution of powers between the Commonwealth and the territories is different from that between the Commonwealth and the states. In the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth retains the power to directly administer uranium mining and Aboriginal lands powers which it does not possess with respect to the states.

Each state has a Governor, appointed by the Queen, which by convention she does on the advice of the state Premier. The Administrators of the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island are, by contrast, appointed by the Governor-General. The Australian Capital Territory has neither a Governor nor Administrator, but the Governor-General exercises some powers that in other jurisdictions are exercised by the Governor of a state or Administrator of a territory, such as the power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

Jervis Bay Territorymarker is unique in being the only non-self-governing territory that is not an external territory. Until 1989 it was a part of the ACT, but was separated when the ACT achieved self-government. Residents of the Jervis Bay Territory are not represented in the ACT Legislative Assembly. However, laws made by that assembly generally apply to them. They are represented in the Australian parliament as part of the Division of Fraser in the ACT and by the ACT's two Senators. In other respects, the territory is administered directly by the Federal Government through the Territories portfolio.

Each state has a bicameral Parliament except Queensland, which abolished its upper house in 1922. The lower house is called the Legislative Assembly, except in South Australia and Tasmania, where it is called the House of Assembly. Tasmania is the only state to use proportional representation for elections to its lower house; all others elect members from single member constituencies, using preferential voting. The upper house is called the Legislative Council, and is generally elected from multi-member constituencies using proportional representation. The three self-governing territories, the ACT, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island, have unicameral Legislative Assemblies.

The head of government of each state is called the Premier, appointed by the state's Governor. In normal circumstances the Governor will appoint as Premier whoever leads the party or coalition which exercises control of the lower house (in the case of Queensland, the only house) of the state Parliament. However, in times of constitutional crisis, the Governor can appoint someone else as Premier. The head of government of the self-governing internal territories is called the Chief Minister. The Northern Territory's Chief Minister, in normal circumstances whoever controls the Legislative Assembly, is appointed by the Administrator.

Comparative terminology

Entity Head of State Head of Government Upper House of Parliament Lower House of Parliament Member of Parliament*
Australia Governor-General Prime Minister Senate House of Representatives Senator MP
New South Walesmarker Governor Premier Legislative Council Legislative Assembly MLC MLA
Queensland None (abolished 1922) None MP
South Australia Legislative Council House of Assembly MLC MHA
Western Australia Legislative Assembly MLA
Australian Capital Territorymarker Governor-General Chief Minister None None
Northern Territorymarker Administrator
Norfolk Island
Christmas Island Mayor/Shire President Shire Council Councillor
Cocos Islands
*Note: The abbreviation 'MP is an acceptable, and indeed more common term for members of each lower house.

Governors and Administrators of states and territories

Post Incumbent Appointed
Governor of New South Wales
Governor of Queensland
Governor of South Australia
Governor of Tasmania
Governor of Victoria
Governor of Western Australia
Administrator of the Northern Territory

Premiers and Chief Ministers of states and territories

Post Incumbent Political party Appointed
Premier of New South Wales Labor
Premier of Victoria Labor
Premier of Queensland Labor
Premier of South Australia Labor
Premier of Western Australia Liberal
Premier of Tasmania Labor
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory Labor
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Labor
Chief Minister of Norfolk Island

State and territorial parliaments

State and territory supreme courts

State and territory police forces


State/territory Land area (km²) Rank Population (2006) Rank Population density (/km²) Rank % of population in capital Rank
2,358 8th 344,200 7th 137.53 1st 99.6% 1st
800,642 5th 6,967,200 1st 8.44 3rd 63% 5th
227,416 6th 5,297,600 2nd 22 2nd 71% 4th
1,730,648 2nd 4,279,400 3rd 2.26 5th 46% 7th
983,482 4th 1,601,800 5th 1.56 6th 73.5% 2nd
2,529,875 1st 2,163,200 4th 0.79 7th 73.4% 3rd
68,401 7th 498,200 6th 7.08 4th 41% 8th
1,349,129 3rd 219,900 8th 0.15 8th 54% 6th

Distance table

distance in Kilometres.

State and territory codes

Distance Table Australia
2673 Albanymarker
1533 3588 Alice Springsmarker
1578 3633 443 Ulurumarker
2045 4349 3038 3254 Brisbanemarker
2483 1943 2483 1223 3317 Broome
3352 5656 2457 2900 1716 2496 Cairnsmarker
1196 3846 3706 2751 1261 3275 2568 Canberramarker
3022 4614 1489 1932 3463 1803 2882 4195 Darwinmarker
1001 3674 2534 2579 1944 3636 3251 918 4023 Hobartmarker
3219 3787 1686 2129 3660 1045 3079 4392 827 4220 Kununurramarker
2783 5087 2505 2948 976 2840 740 1999 2930 2682 3127 Mackaymarker
731 3404 2264 2309 1674 3124 2981 648 3753 609 3950 2412 Melbournemarker
2742 5106 1209 1652 1829 1834 1248 2561 1634 3075 1831 1296 2805 Mount Isamarker
2781 409 3696 3741 4457 2389 5764 3954 4205 3782 3378 5195 3512 4905 Perthmarker
1412 3970 3830 2875 1001 3373 2495 286 4034 1142 4516 1926 872 2400 4078 Sydneymarker
State/Territory Call signs Postcodes Telephone area codes Time zone
AM/FM TV Amateur Std Summer
Australian Capital Territory 1xx(x) xx(x)Cn VK1xx 02nn*, 26nn, 29nn 02 +10 +11
New South Wales 2xx(x) xx(x)Nn VK2xx 1nnn*, 2nnn 02 +10 +11
Victoria 3xx(x) xx(x)Vn VK3xx 3nnn, 8nnn* 03 +10 +11
Queensland 4xx(x) xx(x)Qn VK4xx 4nnn, 9nnn* 07 +10
South Australia 5xx(x) xx(x)Sn VK5xx 5nnn 08 +9½ +10½
Western Australia 6xx(x) xx(x)Wn VK6xx 6nnn 08 +8
Tasmania 7xx(x) xx(x)Tn VK7xx 7nnn 03 +10 +11
Northern Territory 8xx(x) xx(x)Dn VK8xx 08nn 08 +9½
External Territories
Norfolk Island 2xx(x) VK9xx (NSW) +672 3 +11½
Christmas Island (WA) (WA) +7
Cocos Island +6½
Australian Antarctic Territory none VK0xx (Tas) +672 1 +6 to +8
Macquarie Islandmarker none +10 +11

See also

References and notes

External links

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