World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Australia and South Pacific

Australia Travelling Guide
Australia Travelling Guide

General background: Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef. A referendum to change Australia's status, from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to an independent republic, was defeated in 1999.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states

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

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

Population: 19,546,792 (July 2002 est.)

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

Religions: Anglican 26.1%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24.3%, non-Christian 11%, other 12.6%

Language: English, native languages

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

Capital: Canberra

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

Economic overview: Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. The Australian economy has been resilient in the face of the global economic downturn in 2001 chalking up 2.3% GDP growth, as the domestic economy is offsetting the external slump and business and consumer confidence remains robust. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is a key factor behind the economy's strength, and Australia is expected to outperform its trading partners in 2002, with GDP growth projected to be 3% or better. Australia probably will experience some weakness in mid-2002 as its business cycle tends to lag the US by about six months, and larger problems could emerge if Australia's trade position worsens.

Communication/Telephone system: Excellent domestic and international service, domestic satellite system; much use of radiotelephone in areas of low population density; rapid growth of mobile cellular telephones. 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) (1998).

Places of interest:

Travel Tips: