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Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
country comprising the mainland of the
Australian continent The continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in ...
, the island of
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Eart ...

Oceania
and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Its population of nearly million is highly
urbanised Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000.">South_Karelia.html" ;"title="Lappeenranta, South Karelia">Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finla ...
and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

Canberra
, and its largest
city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a ...
is
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
. The country's other major
metropolitan areas A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated core city, urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories sharing Industry (economics), industries, commercial areas, transport infrastructure, transport net ...
are
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
,
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...

Brisbane
,
Perth Perth () is the list of Australian capital cities, capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's list of cities in Australia by population, fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 mi ...

Perth
, and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
.
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continen ...
inhabited the continent for about 65,000 years prior to the first arrival of
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
explorers in the early 17th century, who named it New Holland. In 1770, Australia's eastern half was claimed by
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
and initially
settled A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their or ...
through
penal transportation Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convict A convict is "a person found guilty Guilty or The Guilty may refer to: * Guilt (emotion), an experience that occurs when a person believes they have violated a moral st ...
to the colony of
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's
national day A national day is a day on which celebrations mark the nationhood A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural s ...

national day
. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the time of an 1850s
gold rush cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 California Gold Rush, Gold Rush. A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare-earth miner ...
, most of the continent had been explored by European settlers and an additional five self-governing
crown colonies Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administ ...
established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable
liberal democratic Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is tru ...
political system that functions as a
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
, comprising six states and ten territories. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
s. It has a landmass of . A , its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with
deserts upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab ...
in the centre, tropical
rainforests Rainforests are forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological func ...
in the north-east, and mountain ranges in the south-east. Australia generates its income from various sources, including mining-related exports,
telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, Optical system, optical, or other Electromagnetism, electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication ov ...
,
banking A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), stat ...
,
manufacturing Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity), labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation. It is the essence of secondary sector ...
, and international education. Australia is a
developed country A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized governm ...
, with the world's thirteenth-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income. It is considered a
regional power In international relations since the late 20th century, a regional power is a term used for a state that has power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit ti ...
and has the world's thirteenth-highest military expenditure.
Immigrants Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective ident ...
account for 30% of the population, the highest proportion in any country with a population over 10 million. The country ranks highly in measures of health, education,
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and against ...
, and
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgat ...
. Australia is a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
,
G20 The G20 or Group of Twenty is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located ...

G20
,
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
,
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the sys ...
,
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD),
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through ...
,
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC; ) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim The Pacific Rim comprises the lands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean. The ''Pacific Ocean, Pacific Basin'' include ...
,
Pacific Islands Forum The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comp ...

Pacific Islands Forum
, and the ASEAN Plus Six.


Etymology

The name ''Australia'' (pronounced in
Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the Lan ...
) is derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''
Terra Australis Terra Australis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
'' ("southern land"), a name used for a hypothetical continent in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name ''Terra Australis'' was naturally applied to the new territories. Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as " New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer
Abel Tasman Abel Janszoon Tasman (; 160310 October 1659) was a Dutch sea explorer, seafarer, exploration, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known Europ ...

Abel Tasman
in 1644 (as ''Nieuw-Holland'') and subsequently anglicised. ''Terra Australis'' still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts. The name ''Australia'' was popularised by the explorer
Matthew Flinders Captain (Royal Navy), Captain Matthew Flinders (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was a British navigator and cartographer who led the first littoral zone, inshore circumnavigate, circumnavigation of the landmass that is now known as Australia. H ...

Matthew Flinders
, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the Earth". Several famous early cartographers also made use of the word Australia on maps.
Gerardus Mercator Gerardus Mercator (; 5 March 1512 – 2 December 1594) was a 16th-century geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist or humanist whose area of study is geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', lite ...

Gerardus Mercator
used the phrase ''climata '' on his double cordiform map of the world of 1538, as did
Gemma Frisius Gemma Frisius (; born Jemme Reinerszoon; December 9, 1508 – May 25, 1555) was a Dutch physician, mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) inclu ...

Gemma Frisius
, who was Mercator's teacher and collaborator, on his own cordiform wall map in 1540. Australia appears in a book on astronomy by Cyriaco Jacob zum Barth published in Frankfurt am Main in 1545. The first time that ''Australia'' appears to have been officially used was in April 1817, when Governor
Lachlan Macquarie Major-general (United Kingdom), Major General Lachlan Macquarie, Companion of the Order of the Bath, CB (; gd, Lachann MacGuaire; 31 January 1762 – 1 July 1824) was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. Macquarie se ...
acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from
Lord Bathurst Image:Earl Bathurst coa.png, 300px, Coat of arms of the Earls Bathurst, from: the English Peerage, Charles Catton, 1790 Earl Bathurst, of Bathurst in the County of Sussex, is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. The medieval English word was B ...
. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the
Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretariat, office, or directorate are designations used by a first-level executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive ( ...
that it be formally adopted. In 1824, the
Admiralty Admiralty usually refers to: * Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank ...
agreed that the continent should be known officially by that name. The first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of ''The Australia Directory'' by the
Hydrographic Office , the International Hydrographic Organization The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred ...
. Colloquial names for Australia include " Oz" and "the Land Down Under" (usually shortened to just "
Down Under The term ''Down Under'' is a colloquialism Colloquialism or colloquial language is the linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") ...

Down Under
"). Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "
the Lucky Country ''The Lucky Country'' is a 1964 book by Donald Horne. The title has become a nickname for Australia and is generally used favourably, although the origin of the phrase was negative in the context of the book. Among other things, it has been used i ...
", "the Sunburnt Country", and "the Wide Brown Land". The latter two both derive from
Dorothea Mackellar Image:(1)Dunara.jpg, ''Dunara'', Mackellar's childhood home in Point Piper, New South Wales, Point Piper Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar (better known as Dorothea Mackellar), (1 July 1885 – 14 January 1968) was an List of Australian poets, ...

Dorothea Mackellar
's 1908 poem "
My Country Image:My Country part 1.jpg, Mackellar's notebook with first two verses "My Country" is a poem about Australia, written by Dorothea Mackellar (1885–1968) at the age of 19 while homesick in the United Kingdom. After travelling through Europ ...
".


History


Prehistory

Human habitation of the Australian continent is known to have begun at least 65,000 years ago, with the migration of people by
land bridge In biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A sp ...
s and short sea-crossings from what is now
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. The
Madjedbebe Madjedbebe (formerly known as Malakunanja II) is a sandstone rock shelter in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Aus ...
rock shelter in
Arnhem Land Arnhem Land is a historical region of the Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern region ...
is recognised as the oldest site showing the presence of humans in Australia. The oldest human remains found are the
Lake Mungo remains The Lake Mungo remains are three prominent sets of human remains that are possibly Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Australian: Lake Mungo 1 (also called Mungo Woman, LM1, and ANU-618), Lake Mungo 3 (also called Mungo Man, Lake Mungo III, and ...
, which have been dated to around 41,000 years ago. These people were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific ...
culture is one of the oldest continual cultures on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained.1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2002
Australian Bureau of Statistics The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the independent statutory agency of the Australian Government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Austra ...
25 January 2002
Indigenous Australians have an
oral culture Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as w ...
with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the
Dreamtime The Dreaming, also referred to as Dreamtime, is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal mythology, Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Ja ...
. The
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are ...
, ethnically
Melanesia Melanesia (, ) is a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabi ...

Melanesia
n, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited sporadically by
Makassan Makassar () is the capital city, capital of the Indonesian Provinces of Indonesia, province of South Sulawesi. It is the largest city in the region of Eastern Indonesia and the country's fifth-largest urban center after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandun ...
fishermen from what is now
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
.


European arrival

The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent, are attributed to the
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...

Dutch
. The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the ''
Duyfken ''Duyfken'' (; Little Dove), also in the form ''Duifje'' or spelled ''Duifken'' or ''Duijfken'', was a small ship built in the Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the S ...
'' captained by Dutch navigator,
Willem Janszoon Willem Janszoon (; ), sometimes abbreviated to Willem Jansz., was a Dutch Republic, Dutch navigator and colonial governor. Janszoon served in the Dutch East Indies, Dutch East Indies in the periods 16031611 and 16121616, including as governor of ...
. He sighted the coast of
Cape York Peninsula Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding w ...
in early 1606, and made landfall on 26 February 1606 at the
Pennefather River The Pennefather River is a river located on the western Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, Far North Queensland, Australia. Location and features Formed by the confluence of a series of waterways including the Fish Creek in the Port M ...
near the modern town of
Weipa Weipa is a coastal mining town in the local government area of Weipa Town in Queensland, Australia. It is the largest town on the Cape York Peninsula. It exists because of the enormous bauxite deposits along the coast. The ''Port of Weipa'' is ...
on Cape York. Later that year, Spanish explorer
Luís Vaz de Torres Luís Vaz de Torres ( Galician and Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a cou ...
sailed through, and navigated,
Torres Strait The Torres Strait (), also known as Zenadh Kes, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both s ...

Torres Strait
islands. The Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines and named the island continent "New Holland" during the 17th century, and although no attempt at settlement was made, a number of shipwrecks left men either stranded or, as in the case of the '' Batavia'' in 1629, marooned for mutiny and murder, thus becoming the first Europeans to permanently inhabit the continent.
William Dampier William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651; died March 1715) was an English explorer Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; i ...

William Dampier
, an English explorer and privateer, landed on the north-west coast of New Holland in 1688 (while serving as a crewman under pirate Captain John Read) and again in 1699 on a return trip. In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain. With the loss of its American colonies in 1783, the British Government sent a fleet of ships, the "
First Fleet The First Fleet was a fleet of 11 ships A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, r ...
", under the command of Captain
Arthur Phillip Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer ...

Arthur Phillip
, to establish a new
penal colony A penal colony or exile colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Although the term can be used to refer t ...
in New South Wales. A camp was set up and the
Union flag The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom. Though no law has been passed officially making the Union Jack the national flag of the United Kingdom, it has effectively become the national flag through prec ...

Union flag
raised at
Sydney Cove Sydney Cove, officially dual-named with its original Aboriginal Aborigine, aborigine or aboriginal may refer to: * Indigenous peoples, ethnic groups who are the original or earliest known inhabitants of an area **List of indigenous peoples, i ...

Sydney Cove
,
Port Jackson Port Jackson, consisting of the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour Middle Harbour (or ''Warring-Ga''), a semi–mature tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple ...

Port Jackson
, on 26 January 1788, a date which later became Australia's national day,
Australia Day Australia Day is the official of . Observed annually on 26 January, it marks the 1788 landing of the at and raising of the by following days of exploration of in . In present-day Australia, celebrations aim to reflect the diverse society ...

Australia Day
. Most early
convicts A convict is "a person found Guilt (law), guilty of a crime and Sentence (law), sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison". Convicts are often also known as "prisoners" or "inmates" or by the slang term "con", while a common ...
were
transported ''Transported'' is an Australian convict melodrama film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It is considered a lost film. Plot In England, Jessie Grey is about to marry Leonard Lincoln but the evil Harold Hawk tries to force her to marry him and she woun ...
for petty crimes and assigned as labourers or servants upon arrival. While the majority settled into colonial society once
emancipated Emancipation is any effort to procure economic and social rights, political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally, in discussion of many matters. Among others, Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx ...
, convict rebellions and uprisings were also staged, but invariably suppressed under martial law. The 1808
Rum Rebellion The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was a coup d'état in the then-British penal colony of New South Wales, staged by the New South Wales Corps in order to depose Governor of New South Wales, Governor William Bligh. Australia's first and only military co ...

Rum Rebellion
, the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia, instigated a two-year period of military rule. The indigenous population declined for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease. Thousands more died as a result of frontier conflict with settlers. A government policy of "assimilation" beginning with the ''
Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 The ''Aboriginal Protection Act 1869'' was an Act of the colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of ...
'' resulted in the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families and communities—referred to as the
Stolen Generations The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen Children) were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state ...
— a practice which also contributed to the decline in the indigenous population. As a result of the
1967 referendum The 1967 Australian referendum occurred on 27 May 1967 under the Holt Government. It contained three topics asked about in two questions, regarding the passage of two bills to alter the Australian Constitution. The first question (''Constitution ...

1967 referendum
, the Federal government's power to enact special laws with respect to a particular race was extended to enable the making of laws with respect to Aboriginals. Traditional ownership of land ("
native title Aboriginal title is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
") was not recognised in law until 1992, when the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's . It exercises and on matters specified within . The High Court was established following passage of the '. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it ...

High Court of Australia
held in ''
Mabo v Queensland (No 2)''Mabo v Queensland'' may refer to: * '' Mabo v Queensland (No 1)'', decided 8 December 1988, overturned the ''Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985'' as incompatible with the ''Racial Discrimination Act 1975'' * '' Mabo v Queensland (No 2)< ...
'' that the legal doctrine that Australia had been ''
terra nullius ''Terra nullius'' (, plural ''terrae nullius'') is a Latin expression meaning "no man's land, nobody's land". It was a principle sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state's Acquisition of ...
'' ("land belonging to no one") did not apply to Australia at the time of British settlement.


Colonial expansion

The expansion of British control over other areas of the continent began in the early 19th century, initially confined to coastal regions. A settlement was established in
Van Diemen's Land Van Diemen's Land was the original name of the island of Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainl ...
(present-day
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
) in 1803, and it became a separate colony in 1825. In 1813,
Gregory Blaxland Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778 – 1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted especially for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers. Early life ...

Gregory Blaxland
, William Lawson and
William Wentworth William Charles Wentworth (13 August 179020 March 1872) was an Australian explorer, journalist, politician and author, and one of the leading figures of early colonial New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State ...

William Wentworth
crossed the
Blue MountainsBlue Mountains may refer to: Geography *Blue Mountains (New South Wales), Australia **City of Blue Mountains, a local government area west of Sydney **Blue Mountains Line, a railway line **Blue Mountains National Park **Blue Mountains walking track ...
west of
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
, opening the interior to European settlement. The British claim was extended to the whole Australian continent in 1827 when Major
Edmund Lockyer Edmund Lockyer, (21 January 1784 – 10 June 1860) was a British soldier and explorer of Australia. Born in Plymouth, Devon, Lockyer was the son of Thomas Lockyer, a sailmaker, and his wife Ann, ''née Grose''. Lockyer began his army career a ...
established a settlement on
King George Sound King George Sound is the name of a sound In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time ...
(modern-day ). The
Swan River Colony The Swan River Colony, also known as the Swan River Settlement, or just Swan River, was a British colony established in 1829 on the Swan River, in Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a States and territories of Austra ...
(present-day
Perth Perth () is the list of Australian capital cities, capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's list of cities in Australia by population, fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 mi ...

Perth
) was established in 1829, evolving into the largest Australian colony by area,
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
. In accordance with population growth, separate colonies were carved from parts of New South Wales:
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Austral ...

South Australia
in 1836,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
in 1841,
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
in 1851, and
Queensland Queensland ( ) is a state situated in northeastern Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the ...

Queensland
in 1859. The
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
was excised from South Australia in 1911. South Australia was founded as a "free province" — it was never a penal colony. Western Australia was also founded "free" but later accepted transported convicts, the last of which arrived in 1868, decades after transportation had ceased to the other colonies. In the mid-19th century, explorers such as Burke and Wills went further inland to determine its agricultural potential and answer scientific questions. A series of gold rushes beginning in the early 1850s led to an influx of new migrants from
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
,
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
and
continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical region ...

continental Europe
, and also spurred outbreaks of bushranging and civil unrest; the latter peaked in 1854 when
Ballarat Ballarat () is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Vic ...

Ballarat
miners launched the
Eureka Rebellion The Eureka Rebellion occurred in 1854, instigated by gold miners in Ballarat Ballarat () is a city in the Central Highlands (Victoria), Central Highlands of Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia. In 2018, Ballarat had a population of 1 ...
against gold license fees. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained
responsible government Responsible government is a conception of a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ' ...
, managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign affairs and defence.


Nationhood

On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation and voting. After the
1907 Imperial Conference The 1907 Imperial Conference was convened in London on 15 April 1907 as the 1907 Colonial Conference and concluded on 14 May 1907. During the sessions a resolution was passed renaming this and future meetings Imperial Conferences. The chairman of ...
, Australia and the other self-governing British colonies were given the status of "
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

dominion
" within the British Empire. The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
) was formed in 1911 as the location for the future federal capital of Canberra.
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

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 federal parliament in 1911. Australia became the colonial ruler of the
Territory of Papua The Territory of Papua comprised the southeastern quarter of the island of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-largest island, and with an area of , ...

Territory of Papua
(which had initially been annexed by Queensland in 1883) in 1902 and of the
Territory of New Guinea The Territory of New Guinea was an Australian-administered territory on the island of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-largest island, and with an ...
(formerly
German New Guinea German New Guinea (german: link=no, Deutsch-Neuguinea) consisted of the northeastern part of the island of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-larges ...

German New Guinea
) in 1920. The two were unified as the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea The Territory of Papua and New Guinea, officially the Administrative Union of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, was established by an administrative union between the Australian-administered territories of Territory of Pap ...
in 1949 and gained independence from Australia in 1975. In 1914, Australia joined Britain in fighting World War I, with support from both the outgoing
Commonwealth Liberal Party The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Party, The Fusion, or the Deakinite Liberal Party) was a political movement active in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign sta ...
and the incoming
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major , one of two in , along with the . It has been in in the since the . The ALP is a federal party, with in each . They are currently i ...
. Australians took part in many of the major battles fought on the
Western FrontWestern Front or West Front may refer to: Military frontiers *Western Front (World War I), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (World War II), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (Russian Empire), a major ...

Western Front
. Of about 416,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 152,000 were wounded. Many Australians regard the defeat of the
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was a First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 Nov ...
(ANZACs) at
Gallipoli The Gallipoli peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical bod ...
as the birth of the nation — its first major military action. The
Kokoda Track campaign The Kokoda Track campaign or Kokoda Trail campaign was part of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 in what was then the Australian Territory of Papua. It was primar ...
is regarded by many as an analogous nation-defining event during World War II. Britain's
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom an Act of Parliament is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and ...
formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. Australia adopted it in 1942, but it was backdated to 1939 to confirm the validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The shock of Britain's defeat in Asia in 1942, followed soon after by the
bombing of Darwin The Bombing of Darwin, also known as the Battle of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sov ...
and other Japanese attacks, led to a widespread belief in Australia that an invasion was imminent, and a shift towards the United States as a new ally and protector. Since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, under the
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the sys ...
treaty. After World War II, Australia encouraged immigration from mainland
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
. Since the 1970s and following the abolition of the
White Australia policy The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical racial policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Australia, immigrating to Australia, s ...
, immigration from
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
and elsewhere was also promoted. As a result, Australia's demography, culture, and self-image were transformed. The ''
Australia Act 1986 The Australia Act 1986 is the short title of each of a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth (i.e. federal) Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parl ...

Australia Act 1986
'' severed the remaining constitutional ties between Australia and the United Kingdom. In a 1999 referendum, 55% of voters and a majority in every state rejected a proposal to become a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
with a president appointed by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of the Australian Parliament. There has been an increasing focus in foreign policy on ties with other
Pacific Rim The Pacific Rim comprises the lands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support li ...
nations while maintaining close ties with Australia's traditional allies and trading partners.


Geography and environment


General characteristics

Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and
Timor Timor is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerry, s ...
seas, with the
Coral Sea The Coral Sea () is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Coral Sea
lying off the Queensland coast, and the
Tasman Sea The Tasman Sea (Māori Māori or Maori can refer to: Relating to the Māori people * Māori people of New Zealand, or members of that group * Māori language, the language of the Māori people of New Zealand * Māori culture * Cook Islanders ...

Tasman Sea
lying between Australia and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
. The world's smallest continent "Most people recognize seven continents —
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
,
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
,
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
,
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
,
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, from largest to smallest — although sometimes Europe and Asia are considered a single continent,
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
".
and sixth largest country by total area, "Smallest continent and sixth largest country (in area) on Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans". Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the "island continent" and is sometimes considered the world's largest island. Australia has of coastline (excluding all offshore islands), and claims an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone of . This exclusive economic zone does not include the
Australian Antarctic Territory The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of East Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of the Environment and Energy. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby La ...

Australian Antarctic Territory
. Mainland Australia lies between latitudes and 44° South, and longitudes 112° and 154° East. Australia's size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with tropical
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
s in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and desert in the centre. The desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the
outback The Outback is a remote, vast, sparsely populated area of Australia. The Outback is more remote than Australian bush, the bush, which includes any location outside the main urban areas. While often envisaged as being arid, the Outback regions ...

outback
makes up by far the largest portion of land. Australia is the driest inhabited continent; its annual rainfall averaged over continental area is less than 500 mm. The
population density Population density (in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise tr ...
is 3.2 inhabitants per square kilometre, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline. The
Great Barrier Reef The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystems, ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of Colony (biology), colonies of coral polyp (zoology), polyps held tog ...

Great 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. At ,
Mount Kosciuszko Mount Kosciuszko ( ; Ngarigo: , ), previously spelled Mount Kosciusko, is mainland Australia's highest mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A ...

Mount Kosciuszko
is the highest mountain on the Australian mainland. Even taller are
Mawson Peak Mawson Peak is an active volcanic summit A summit is a point on a surface that is higher in elevation than all points immediately adjacent to it. The topographic terms acme, apex, peak (mountain peak), and zenith are synonymous. The term ...
(at ), on the remote Australian external territory of
Heard Island The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is an Australian States and territories of Australia, external territory comprising a volcanic group of mostly barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Ant ...
, and, in the Australian Antarctic Territory,
Mount McClintock Mount McClintock is the highest mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is lar ...
and
Mount MenziesMount Menzies is the culminating Summit (topography), peak (3,355 m; 11,007 ft) on the large massif between Mount Mather (Antarctica), Mount Mather and Mount Bayliss, standing on the south side of Fisher Glacier, Antarctica. It was sighted ...
, at and respectively. Eastern Australia is marked by the
Great Dividing Range The Great Dividing Range, also known as the East Australian Cordillera or the Eastern Highlands, is a cordillera A cordillera is an extensive chain of mountains A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust 350px, Plates in t ...

Great Dividing Range
, which runs parallel to the coast of
Queensland Queensland ( ) is a state situated in northeastern Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the ...

Queensland
,
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
and much of
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
. The name is not strictly accurate, because parts of the range consist of low hills, and the highlands are typically no more than in height. The coastal uplands and a belt of Brigalow grasslands lie between the coast and the mountains, while inland of the dividing range are large areas of grassland and shrubland. These include the
western plains The Great Plains, sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flat land (a plain), much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, located in the interior of North America. It lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie ...
of New South Wales, and the
Mitchell Grass Downs The Mitchell Grass Downs is a tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion in northeastern Australia. It is a mostly treeless grassland, characterised by Astrebla, Mitchell grasses (''Astrebla'' spp.). Location and de ...
and
Mulga Lands The Mulga Lands are an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia, interim Australian bioregion of eastern Australia consisting of dry sandy plains with low mulga (habitat), mulga woodlands and shrublands that are dominated by ''Acacia a ...
of inland Queensland. The northernmost point of the mainland is the tropical
Cape York Peninsula Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding w ...
. The landscapes of the
Top End The Top End of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List o ...
and the
Gulf Country The Gulf Country is the region of woodland and savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem characterised by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the Canopy (forest), canopy does not close. The open ...
—with their tropical climate—include forest,
woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade (see d ...

woodland
,
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
,
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
,
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
and
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
. At the north-west corner of the continent are the sandstone cliffs and gorges of
The Kimberley The Kimberley is the northernmost of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea, on the south by the Great Sandy Desert, Great Sandy and Tanami Desert, Tanami deserts ...
, and below that the
Pilbara The Pilbara () is a large, dry, thinly populated regions of Western Australia, region in the north of Western Australia. It is known for its Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal peoples; its ancient landscapes; the red earth; and its vast miner ...
. The
Victoria Plains tropical savanna The Victoria Plains tropical savanna is a tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is ...
lies south of the Kimberly and
Arnhem Land Arnhem Land is a historical region of the Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern region ...

Arnhem Land
savannas, forming a transition between the coastal savannas and the interior deserts. At the heart of the country are the uplands of central Australia. Prominent features of the centre and south include
Uluru Uluru (; pjt, Uluṟu ), also known as Ayers Rock ( ) and officially gazetted A gazette is an official journal, a newspaper of record File:Le Figaro, boulevard Haussmann.JPG, The headquarters of ''Le Figaro'', France's centre-right news ...

Uluru
(also known as Ayers Rock), the famous sandstone monolith, and the inland
Simpson Simpson most often refers to: * Simpson (name), a British surname Simpson may also refer to: Arts and entertainment *''The Simpsons'', an animated American sitcom **The Simpson family, central characters of the series ''The Simpsons'' Organ ...
, Tirari and Sturt Stony,
Gibson Gibson may refer to: Businesses * Gibson (guitar company) Gibson Brands, Inc. (formerly Gibson Guitar Corporation) is an American manufacturer of guitars The guitar is a fretted musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created ...
, Great Sandy, Tanami, and Great Victoria deserts, with the famous
Nullarbor Plain The Nullarbor Plain ( ; Latin: feminine of , 'no', and , 'tree') is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its ...

Nullarbor Plain
on the southern coast. The
Western Australian mulga shrublands The Western Australian Mulga shrublands is a deserts and xeric shrublands ecoregion of inland Western Australia. It is one of Australia's two mulga (habitat), mulga ecoregions, characterized by dry woodlands of mulga trees (''Acacia aneura'' and r ...
lie between the interior deserts and Mediterranean-climate
Southwest Australia Southwest Australia is a ecoregion, biogeographic region in Western Australia. It includes the Mediterranean climate, Mediterranean-climate area of southwestern Australia, which is home to a diverse and distinctive flora and fauna. The region is ...
.


Geology

Lying on the
Indo-Australian Plate #REDIRECT Indo-Australian Plate The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers app ...
, the mainland of Australia is the lowest and most primordial landmass on Earth with a relatively stable geological history. The landmass includes virtually all known rock types and from all geological time periods spanning over 3.8 billion years of the Earth's history. The
Pilbara Craton upright=1.3, Map of Australia with the Pilbara Region highlighted in red. The Pilbara Craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere located in Pilbara, Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a States and ...
is one of only two pristine 3.6–2.7 Ga (billion years ago) crusts identified on the Earth. Having been part of all major
supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...
s, the
Australian continent The continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in ...
began to form after the breakup of
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (ge ...

Gondwana
in the
Permian The Permian ( ) is a and which spans 47 million years from the end of the Period million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Period 251.902 Mya. It is the last period of the Era; the following Triassic Period belongs to the Era. The c ...
, with the separation of the continental landmass from the
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n continent and Indian subcontinent. It separated from
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
over a prolonged period beginning in the
Permian The Permian ( ) is a and which spans 47 million years from the end of the Period million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Period 251.902 Mya. It is the last period of the Era; the following Triassic Period belongs to the Era. The c ...
and continuing through to the
Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place. These periods form elements of a hierarchy of division ...

Cretaceous
. When the last glacial period ended in about 10,000 BC, rising sea levels formed
Bass Strait Bass Strait () is a sea strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland, specifically the state of Victoria (Australia), Victoria. Formed 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels, the Bass Strait was named after explorer and physician Georg ...

Bass Strait
, separating
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
from the mainland. Then between about 8,000 and 6,500 BC, the lowlands in the north were flooded by the sea, separating
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
, the
Aru Islands The Aru Islands Regency ( id, Kabupaten Kepulauan Aru) are a group of about ninety-five low-lying island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very smal ...
, and the mainland of Australia. The Australian continent is moving toward
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
at the rate of 6 to 7 centimetres a year. The Australian mainland's
continental crust Continental crust is the layer of igneous Igneous rock (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...
, excluding the thinned margins, has an average thickness of 38km, with a range in thickness from 24 km to 59 km. Australia's geology can be divided into several main sections, showcasing that the continent grew from west to east: the Archaean
craton A craton (, , or ; from el, κράτος ''kratos'' "strength") is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere A lithosphere ( grc, λίθος [] for "rocky", and [] for "sphere") is the rigid, outermost shell of a terrestrial p ...
ic shields found mostly in the west, Proterozoic orogeny, fold belts in the centre and
Phanerozoic The Phanerozoic Eon is the current in the , and the one during which abundant and has existed. It covers million years to the present, and it began with the Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. The ...
sedimentary basins Sedimentary basins are regions of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining ...
, metamorphic and
igneous rocks Igneous rock (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...

igneous rocks
in the east. The Australian mainland and Tasmania are situated in the middle of the
tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibri ...
and have no active volcanoes, but due to passing over the East Australia hotspot, recent volcanism has occurred during the
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
, in the
Newer Volcanics Province 250px, Mount Napier The Newer Volcanics Province is a geological area which is a volcanic field A volcanic field is an area of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. Ab ...
of western Victoria and southeastern South Australia. Volcanism also occurs in the island of New Guinea (considered geologically as part of the Australian continent), and in the Australian external territory of
Heard Island and McDonald Islands The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is an Australian external territory comprising a volcanic group of mostly barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), ...
.
Seismic activity An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that ...
in the Australian mainland and Tasmania is also low, with the greatest number of fatalities having occurred in the 1989 Newcastle earthquake.


Climate

The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the
Indian Ocean Dipole The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), also known as the Indian Niño, is an irregular oscillation Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value (often a point of equilibrium) or between two or more d ...
and the
El Niño–Southern Oscillation El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an irregular periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the Tropics, tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics. The warming phase of th ...
, which is correlated with periodic
drought A drought is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorolog ...
, and the seasonal tropical low-pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia. These factors cause rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical, predominantly summer-rainfall (monsoon). The Southwest corner of Western Australia, south-west corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate. The south-east ranges from oceanic climate, oceanic (Tasmania and coastal Victoria) to humid subtropical (upper half of New South Wales), with the highlands featuring alpine climate, alpine and subpolar oceanic climates. The interior is arid to semi-arid. Driven by climate change, average temperatures have risen Climate change in Australia, more than 1°C since 1960. Associated changes in rainfall patterns and climate extremes exacerbate existing issues such as drought and Bushfires in Australia, bushfires. 2019 was Australia's warmest recorded year, and the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, 2019–2020 bushfire season was the country's worst List of Australian bushfire seasons, on record. Greenhouse gas emissions by Australia, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita, highest in the world. Water restrictions in Australia, Water restrictions are frequently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localised drought. Throughout much of the continent, Floods in Australia, major flooding regularly follows extended periods of drought, flushing out inland river systems, overflowing dams and inundating large inland flood plains, as occurred throughout Eastern Australia in the early 2010s after the 2000s Australian drought.


Biodiversity

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, the continent includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine climate, alpine heaths to tropical rainforests. Fungi typify that diversity—an estimated 250,000 species—of which only 5% have been described—occur in Australia. Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota (ecology) , biota is unique. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of List of birds of Australia, birds, and 89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemism, endemic. Australia has at least 755 species of reptile, more than any other country in the world. Besides Antarctica, Australia is the only continent that developed without Felidae, feline species. Feral cats may have been introduced in the 17th century by Dutch shipwrecks, and later in the 18th century by European settlers. They are now considered a major factor in the decline and extinction of many vulnerable and endangered native species. Australia is also one of 17 megadiverse countries. Forests of Australia, Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions; Acacia, wattles replace them as the dominant species in drier regions and deserts. Among well-known fauna of Australia, Australian animals are the monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra. Australia is home to Animal attacks in Australia, many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world. The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 Common Era, BCE. Many animal and plant species became extinct soon after first human settlement, including the Australian megafauna; others have disappeared since European settlement, among them the thylacine. Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and Invasive species in Australia, introduced animal, chromistan, fungal and plant species. All these factors have led to Australia's having the highest mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. The federal ''Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999'' is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species. Numerous Protected areas of Australia, protected areas have been created under the Biodiversity action plan, National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity to protect and preserve unique ecosystems; 65
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
s are List of Ramsar sites in Australia, listed under the Ramsar Convention, and 16 natural World Heritage Sites have been established. Australia was ranked 21st out of 178 countries in the world on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. There are more than 1,800 animals and plants on Australia's threatened species list, including more than 500 animals.


Government and politics

Australia is a federalism, federal parliamentary system, parliamentary
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
. The country has maintained a stable liberal democracy, liberal democratic political system under its Constitution of Australia, constitution, which is List of national constitutions, one of the world's oldest, since Federation of Australia, Federation in 1901. It is also one of the world's oldest federations, in which power is divided between the Government of Australia, federal and States and territories of Australia, state and territorial governments. The Australian system of government combines elements derived from the political systems of the Westminster system, United Kingdom (a Fusion of powers, fused executive,
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
and strong party discipline) and the United States Government, United States (federalism, a written constitution and bicameralism, strong bicameralism with an elected upper house), along with distinctive indigenous features. The federal government is Separation of powers in Australia, separated into three branches: * Legislature: the bicameral Parliament of Australia, Parliament, comprising the Monarchy of Australia, monarch (represented by the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general), the Australian Senate, Senate, and the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives; * Executive: the Federal Executive Council (Australia), Federal Executive Council, which in practice gives legal effect to the decisions of the Cabinet of Australia, cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister and other ministers of state appointed by the governor-general on the advice of Parliament; * Judiciary: the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's . It exercises and on matters specified within . The High Court was established following passage of the '. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it ...

High Court of Australia
and other Australian court hierarchy, federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the governor-general on advice of Parliament Elizabeth II reigns as Queen of Australia and is represented in Australia by the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general at the federal level and by the Governors of the Australian states , governors at the state level, who by convention act on the advice of her ministers. Thus, in practice the governor-general acts as a legal figurehead for the actions of the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister and the Federal Executive Council (Australia), Federal Executive Council. The governor-general does have extraordinary reserve powers which may be exercised outside the prime minister's request in rare and limited circumstances, the most notable exercise of which was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, constitutional crisis of 1975. In the Senate (the upper house), there are 76 senators: twelve each from the states and two each from the mainland territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). The Australian House of Representatives , House of Representatives (the lower house) has 151 members elected from single-member Divisions of the Australian House of Representatives, electoral divisions, commonly known as "electorates" or "seats", allocated to states on the basis of population, with each original state guaranteed a minimum of five seats. Elections for both chambers are normally held every three years simultaneously; senators have overlapping six-year terms except for those from the territories, whose terms are not fixed but are tied to the electoral cycle for the lower house; thus only 40 of the 76 places in the Senate are put to each election unless the cycle is interrupted by a double dissolution. Australia's electoral system of Australia, electoral system uses Instant-runoff voting, preferential voting for all lower house elections with the exception of Tasmania and the ACT which, along with the Senate and most state upper houses, combine it with proportional representation in a system known as the single transferable vote. Compulsory voting, Voting is compulsory for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over in every jurisdiction, as is enrolment. The party with majority support in the House of Representatives forms the government and its leader becomes Prime Minister. In cases where no party has majority support, the Governor-General has the constitutional power to appoint the Prime Minister and, if necessary, dismiss one that has lost the confidence of Parliament. There are two major political groups that usually form government, federally and in the states: the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major , one of two in , along with the . It has been in in the since the . The ALP is a federal party, with in each . They are currently i ...
and the Coalition (Australia), Coalition which is a formal grouping of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party and its minor partner, the National Party of Australia, National Party. Within Australian political culture, the Coalition is considered centre-right and the Labor Party is considered centre-left. Independent members and several minor parties have achieved representation in Australian parliaments, mostly in upper houses. The Australian Greens are often considered the "third force" in politics, being the third largest party by both vote and membership. The 2019 Australian federal election, most recent federal election was held on 18 May 2019 and resulted in the Coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, retaining Government of Australia , government.


States and territories

Australia has six states —
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
(NSW),
Queensland Queensland ( ) is a state situated in northeastern Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the ...

Queensland
(QLD),
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Austral ...

South Australia
(SA),
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
(TAS),
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
(VIC) and
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
(WA) — and two major mainland territories—the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
(ACT) and the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
(NT). In most respects, these two territories function as states, except that the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to modify or repeal any legislation passed by the territory parliaments. Under the constitution, the states essentially have Plenary power, plenary legislative power to legislate on any subject, whereas the Commonwealth (federal) Parliament may legislate only within the subject areas enumerated under Section 51 of the Australian Constitution, section 51. For example, state parliaments have the power to legislate with respect to education, criminal law and state police, health, transport, and local government, but the Commonwealth Parliament does not have any specific power to legislate in these areas. However, Commonwealth laws prevail over state laws to the extent of the inconsistency. Each state and major mainland territory has its own Parliaments of the Australian states and territories, parliament — unicameralism, unicameral in the Northern Territory, the ACT and Queensland, and bicameral in the other states. The states are sovereign entities, although subject to certain powers of the Commonwealth as defined by the Constitution. The lower houses are known as the Legislative Assembly (the House of Assembly in South Australia and Tasmania); the upper houses are known as the Legislative council, Legislative Council. The head of government, head of the government in each state is the Premiers of the Australian states, Premier and in each territory the Chief Minister. The Queen is represented in each state by a Governors of the Australian states, governor; and in the Northern Territory, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, administrator. In the Commonwealth, the Queen's representative is the Governor-General of Australia, governor-general. The Commonwealth Parliament also directly administers the external territories of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands,
Heard Island and McDonald Islands The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is an Australian external territory comprising a volcanic group of mostly barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), ...
, and the Territorial claims in Antarctica, claimed region of
Australian Antarctic Territory The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of East Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of the Environment and Energy. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby La ...

Australian Antarctic Territory
, as well as the internal Jervis Bay Territory, a naval base and sea port for the national capital in land that was formerly part of New South Wales. The external territory of Norfolk Island previously exercised considerable autonomy under the ''Norfolk Island Act 1979'' through its own legislative assembly and an List of administrative heads of Norfolk Island, Administrator to represent the Queen. In 2015, the Commonwealth Parliament abolished self-government, integrating Norfolk Island into the Australian tax and welfare systems and replacing its legislative assembly with a council. Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania, and Lord Howe Island of New South Wales.


Foreign relations

Over recent decades, Foreign relations of Australia, Australia's foreign relations have been driven by a close association with the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
through the
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the sys ...
pact, and by a desire to develop relationships with Asia and the Pacific, particularly through Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the
Pacific Islands Forum The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comp ...

Pacific Islands Forum
and the Pacific Community, of which Australia is a founding member. 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, and in 2011 attended the Sixth East Asia Summit in
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
. Australia is a member of the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
, in which the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings provide the main forum for co-operation. Australia has pursued the cause of international trade liberalisation. It led the formation of the Cairns Group and
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC; ) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim The Pacific Rim comprises the lands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean. The ''Pacific Ocean, Pacific Basin'' include ...
. Australia is a member of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) and the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through ...
(WTO), and has pursued several major bilateral free trade agreements, most recently the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement and Closer Economic Relations with New Zealand, with another free trade agreement being negotiated with China — the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement — and Japan, South Korea in 2011, Australia–Chile Free Trade Agreement, and has put the Trans-Pacific Partnership before parliament for ratification. Australia maintains a deeply integrated relationship with neighbouring New Zealand, with free mobility of citizens between the two countries under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement and free trade under the Closer Economic Relations, Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement. New Zealand, Canada and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
are the most favourably viewed countries in the world by Australian people. Along with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore, Australia is party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements, a regional defence agreement. A founding member country of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
, Australia is strongly committed to multilateralism and maintains an international aid program under which some 60 countries receive assistance. The 2005–2006 budget provides AU$2.5 billion for development assistance.Australian Government (2005
Budget 2005–2006
Australia ranks fifteenth overall in the Center for Global Development's 2012 Commitment to Development Index.


Military

Australia's armed forces—the Australian Defence Force (ADF) — comprise the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), in total numbering 81,214 personnel (including 57,982 regulars and 23,232 reservists) . The titular role of Commander-in-Chief is vested in the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General, who appoints a Chief of the Defence Force (Australia), Chief of the Defence Force from one of the armed services on the advice of the government. In a diarchy, the CDF serves as co-chairman of the Defence Committee (Australia), Defence Committee, conjointly with the Department of Defence (Australia)#Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Defence, in the command and control of the Australian Defence Organisation. In the 2016–2017 budget, defence spending comprised 2% of GDP, representing the world's List of countries by military expenditures, 12th largest defence budget. Australia has been involved in
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
and regional peacekeeping, disaster relief and armed conflict, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq; Australia Current Australian Defence Force deployments, currently has deployed about 2,241 personnel in varying capacities to 12 international operations in areas including Operation Okra, Iraq and War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Afghanistan.


Economy

A wealthy country, Australia has a market economy, a high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, Australia ranked second in the world after Switzerland from 2013 until 2018. In 2018, Australia overtook Switzerland and became the country with the highest average wealth. Australia's poverty rate is 13.6%. It was identified by the Credit Suisse Research Institute as the nation with the highest median wealth in the world and the second-highest average wealth per adult in 2013. The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Islands, Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. With the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange became the ninth largest in the world. Ranked fifth in the Index of Economic Freedom (2017), Australia is the List of countries by GDP (nominal), world's 13th largest economy and has the List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, tenth highest per capita GDP (nominal) at US$55,692. The country was ranked third in the United Nations 2017 Human Development Index. Melbourne reached top spot for the fourth year in a row on ''The Economist''s 2014 list of the World's most livable cities, world's most liveable cities, followed by Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth in the fifth, seventh, and ninth places respectively. Total government debt in Australia is about A$190 billion—20% of Gross domestic product, GDP in 2010. Australia has among the highest house prices and some of the highest household debt levels in the world. An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the 21st century, due to rising commodity prices. Balance of payments of Australia, Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large Current account (balance of payments), current account deficits for more than 50 years. Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6% for over 15 years, in comparison to the OECD annual average of 2.5%. Australia was the only advanced economy not to experience a recession due to the Late-2000s recession, global financial downturn in 2008–2009. However, the economies of six of Australia's major trading partners were in recession, which in turn affected Australia, significantly hampering its economic growth. From 2012 to early 2013, Australia's national economy grew, but some non-mining states and Australia's non-mining economy experienced a recession. The Bob Hawke, Hawke Government Floating exchange rate, floated the Australian dollar in 1983 and partially deregulated the financial system. The Howard Government followed with a WorkChoices, partial deregulation of the labour market and the further privatisation of state-owned businesses, most notably in the telecommunications in Australia, telecommunications industry. The indirect tax system was substantially changed in July 2000 with the introduction of a 10% Goods and Services Tax (Australia), Goods and Services Tax (GST). In Taxation in Australia, Australia's tax system, personal and company Income tax in Australia, income tax are the main sources of government revenue. , there were 12,640,800 people employed (either full- or part-time), with an unemployment rate of 5.2%. Data released in mid-November 2013 showed that the number of welfare recipients had grown by 55%. In 2007 228,621 Newstart Allowance, Newstart unemployment allowance recipients were registered, a total that increased to 646,414 in March 2013. According to the Graduate Careers Survey, full-time employment for newly qualified professionals from various occupations has declined since 2011 but it increases for graduates three years after graduation. interest rates in Australia were set at a record low of 0.1%, targeting an inflation rate of 2 to 3%. The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP. Mining in Australia, Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly wheat and wool, minerals such as iron-ore and gold, and energy in the forms of liquified natural gas and coal. Although Agriculture in Australia, 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
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, South Korea, and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
. Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, and the wine industry contributes A$5.5 billion per year to the nation's economy. Access to biocapacity in Australia is much higher than world average. In 2016, Australia had 12.3 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, much more than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 Australia used 6.6 global hectares of biocapacity per person – their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use half as much biocapacity as Australia contains. As a result, Australia is running a biocapacity reserve. In 2020 ACOSS released a new report revealing that poverty is growing in Australia, with an estimated 3.2 million people, or 13.6% of the population, living below an internationally accepted poverty line of 50% of a country's median income. It also estimated that there are 774,000 (17.7%) children under the age of 15 that are in poverty.


Demographics

Australia has an average population density of persons per square kilometre of total land area, which makes it is one of the List of countries by population density, most sparsely populated countries in the world. The population is heavily concentrated on the east coast, and in particular in the south-eastern region between South East Queensland to the north-east and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
to the south-west. Australia is highly urbanised, with 67% of the population living in the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (metropolitan areas of the state and mainland territorial capital cities) in 2018. Metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants are
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
,
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
,
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...

Brisbane
,
Perth Perth () is the list of Australian capital cities, capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's list of cities in Australia by population, fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 mi ...

Perth
and
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
. 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 2018 the median age, average age of the Australian population was 38.8 years. In 2015, 2.15% of the Australian population Australian diaspora, lived overseas, one of the List of sovereign states and dependent territories by immigrant population#UN 2015 report: emigrant population, lowest proportions worldwide.


Ancestry and immigration

Between 1788 and the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the Anglo-Celtic Australians, British Isles (principally English Australians, England, Irish Australians, Ireland and Scottish Australians, Scotland), although there was significant immigration from
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
and German Australians, Germany during the 19th century. In the decades immediately following the Second World War, Australia received a Post-war immigration to Australia, large wave of immigration from across European Australians, Europe, with many more immigrants arriving from Southern Europe, Southern and Eastern Europe than in previous decades. Since the end of the
White Australia policy The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical racial policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Australia, immigrating to Australia, s ...
in 1973, Australia has pursued an official policy of multiculturalism, and there has been a large and continuing wave of immigration from across the world, with Asian Australians, Asia being the largest source of immigrants in the 21st century. Today, Australia has the world's List of sovereign states and dependent territories by immigrant population, eighth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 30% of the population, a higher proportion than in any other nation with a population of over 10 million. 160,323 permanent immigrants were admitted to Australia in 2018–2019 (excluding refugees), whilst there was a net population gain of 239,600 people from all permanent and temporary immigration in that year. The majority of immigrants are skilled, but the immigration program includes categories for family members and refugees. In 2019, the largest foreign-born populations were those born in England (3.9%), Mainland China (2.7%), India (2.6%), New Zealand (2.2%), the Philippines (1.2%) and Vietnam (1%). In the 2016 Australian census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were: At the 2016 census, 649,171 people (2.8% of the total population) identified as being Indigenous Australians, Indigenous — Aboriginal Australians and
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are ...
. Indigenous Australians experience higher than average rates of imprisonment and unemployment, lower levels of education, and life expectancies for males and females that are, respectively, 11 and 17 years lower than those of non-indigenous Australians. Some remote Indigenous communities have been described as having "failed state"-like conditions.


Language

Although Australia has no official language, English is the ''de facto'' national language. "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."
Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the Lan ...
is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon, and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling."The Macquarie Dictionary", Fourth Edition. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2005. General Australian serves as the standard dialect. According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for 72.7% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic language, Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese language, Vietnamese (1.2%) and Italian language, Italian (1.2%). Over 250 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact,Walsh, Michael (1991) "Overview of indigenous languages of Australia" in of which fewer than twenty are still in daily use by all age groups. About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people. At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 10,112 deaf people who reported that they spoke Auslan language at home in the 2016 census.


Religion

Australia has no state religion; Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prohibits the Federal Government of Australia, federal government from making any law to establish any religion, impose any religious observance, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion. In the 2016 census, 52.1% of Australians were counted as Christians, Christian, including 22.6% as Roman Catholicism in Australia, Catholic and 13.3% as Anglicanism, Anglican; 30.1% of the population reported having "Irreligion in Australia, no religion"; 8.2% identify with non-Christian religions, the largest of these being Islam (2.6%), followed by Buddhism (2.4%), Hinduism (1.9%), Sikhism in Australia, Sikhism (0.5%) and Judaism (0.4%). The remaining 9.7% of the population did not provide an adequate answer. Those who reported having no religion increased conspicuously from 19% in 2006 to 22% in 2011 to 30.1% in 2016. Before European settlement, the animist beliefs of Australia's indigenous people had been practised for many thousands of years. Mainland Aboriginal Australians' spirituality is known as the Dreaming and it places a heavy emphasis on belonging to the land. The collection of stories that it contains shaped Aboriginal law and customs. Indigenous Australian art, Aboriginal art, story and dance continue to draw on these spiritual traditions. The spirituality and customs of
Torres Strait Islanders Torres Strait Islanders () are the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, which are part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Ethnically distinct from the Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, they are ...
, who inhabit the islands between Australia and New Guinea, reflected their Melanesian origins and dependence on the sea. The 1996 Australian census counted more than 7000 respondents as followers of a traditional Aboriginal religion. Since the arrival of the
First Fleet The First Fleet was a fleet of 11 ships A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, r ...
of British ships in 1788, Christianity has become the major religion practised in Australia. Christian churches have played an integral role in the development of education, health and welfare services in Australia. For much of Australian history, the Church of England (now known as the Anglican Church of Australia) was the largest religious denomination, with a large Roman Catholic minority. However, multicultural immigration has contributed to a steep decline in its relative position since the Second World War. Similarly, Islam in Australia, Islam, Buddhism in Australia, Buddhism, Hinduism in Australia, Hinduism, Sikhism in Australia, Sikhism and History of the Jews in Australia, Judaism have all grown in Australia over the past half-century. Australia has one of the lowest levels of religious adherence in the world. In 2018, 13% of women and 10% of men reported attending church at least weekly.


Health

Australia's life expectancy is the fourth highest in the world for males and the third highest for females. Life expectancy in Australia in 2014–2016 was 80.4 years for males and 84.6 years for females. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, while Tobacco smoking, cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease, responsible for 7.8% of the total mortality and disease. Ranked second in preventable causes is hypertension at 7.6%, with obesity third at 7.5%. Australia ranks 35th in the world and near the top of Developed country, developed nations for its proportion of Obesity in Australia, obese adults and nearly two thirds (63%) of its adult population is either overweight or obese. Total expenditure on health (including private sector spending) is around 9.8% of GDP. Australia introduced universal health care in 1975. Known as Medicare (Australia), Medicare, it is now nominally funded by an income tax surcharge known as the Medicare levy, currently at 2%. The states manage hospitals and attached outpatient services, while the Commonwealth funds the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (subsidising the costs of medicines) and general practice.


Education

School attendance, or registration for home schooling, is compulsory throughout Australia. Education is the responsibility of the individual states and territories so the rules vary between states, but in general children are required to attend school from the age of about 5 until about 16. In some states (e.g., Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales), children aged 16–17 are required to either attend school or participate in vocational training, such as an apprenticeship. Australia has an adult literacy rate that was estimated to be 99% in 2003. However, a 2011–2012 report for the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Tasmania has a literacy and numeracy rate of only 50%. Australia has 37 government-funded universities and three private universities, as well as a number of other specialist institutions that provide approved courses at the higher education level. The OECD places Australia among the most expensive nations to attend university. There is a state-based system of vocational training, known as Technical and further education, TAFE, and many trades conduct apprenticeships for training new tradespeople. About 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. 30.9% of Australia's population has attained a higher education qualification, which is among the highest percentages in the world. Australia has the highest ratio of International students in Australia, international students per head of population in the world by a large margin, with 812,000 international students enrolled in the nation's universities and vocational institutions in 2019. Accordingly, in 2019, international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities. International education therefore represents one of the country's largest exports and has a pronounced influence on the country's demographics, with a significant proportion of international students remaining in Australia after graduation on various skill and employment visas.


Culture

Since 1788, the primary influence behind Australian culture has been Anglo-Celtic Western culture, with some Indigenous Australians, Indigenous influences. The divergence and evolution that has occurred in the ensuing centuries has resulted in a distinctive Australian culture. The culture of the United States has served as a significant influence, particularly through television and cinema. Other cultural influences come from neighbouring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations.


Arts

Australia has over 100,000 Indigenous Australian art#Rock painting, Aboriginal rock art sites, and traditional designs, patterns and stories infuse contemporary Indigenous Australian art, "the last great art movement of the 20th century" according to critic Robert Hughes (critic), Robert Hughes; its exponents include Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Early colonial artists showed a fascination with the unfamiliar land. The impressionism, impressionistic works of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and other members of the 19th-century Heidelberg School—the first "distinctively Australian" movement in Western art—gave expression to nationalist sentiments in the lead-up to Federation.Australian art
, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
While the school remained influential into the 1900s, modern art, modernists such as Margaret Preston, and, later, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd, explored new artistic trends. The landscape remained a central subject matter for Fred Williams (artist), Fred Williams, Brett Whiteley and other post-war artists whose works, eclectic in style yet uniquely Australian, moved between the figurative art, figurative and the abstract art, abstract. The National Gallery of Australia, national and state galleries maintain collections of local and international art. Australia has one of the world's highest attendances of art galleries and museums per head of population. Australian literature grew slowly in the decades following European settlement though Indigenous oral traditions, many of which have since been recorded in writing, are much older. In the 1870s, Adam Lindsay Gordon posthumously became the first Australian poet to attain a wide readership. Following in his footsteps, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson captured the experience of Australian bush, the bush using a distinctive Australian vocabulary. Their works are still popular; Paterson's bush poetry, bush poem "Waltzing Matilda" (1895) is regarded as Australia's unofficial national anthem. Miles Franklin is the namesake of Australia's Miles Franklin Award, most prestigious literary prize, awarded annually to the best novel about Australian life. Its first recipient, Patrick White, went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973. Australian Man Booker Prize, Booker Prize winners include Peter Carey (novelist), Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally and Richard Flanagan. Authors David Malouf, Germaine Greer, Helen Garner, playwright David Williamson and poet Les Murray (poet), Les Murray are also renowned. Many of Australia's performing arts companies receive funding through the federal government's Australia Council for the Arts, Australia Council. There is a symphony orchestra in each state, and a national opera company, Opera Australia, well known for its famous soprano Joan Sutherland. At the beginning of the 20th century, Nellie Melba was one of the world's leading opera singers. Ballet and dance are represented by The Australian Ballet and various state companies. Each state has a publicly funded theatre company.


Media

''The Story of the Kelly Gang'' (1906), the world's first feature film, feature-length narrative film, spurred a boom in cinema of Australia, Australian cinema during the silent film era. After World War I, Hollywood monopolised the industry, and by the 1960s Australian film production had effectively ceased. With the benefit of government support, the Australian New Wave of the 1970s brought provocative and successful films, many exploring themes of national identity, such as ''Wake in Fright'' and ''Gallipoli (1981 film), Gallipoli'', while ''Crocodile Dundee'' and the Ozploitation movement's ''Mad Max (franchise), Mad Max'' series became international blockbusters. In a film market flooded with foreign content, Australian films delivered a 7.7% share of the local box office in 2015. The AACTA Awards, AACTAs are Australia's premier film and television awards, and notable List of Australian Academy Award winners and nominees, Academy Award winners from Australia include Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger. Australia 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. Each major city has at least one daily newspaper, and there are two national daily newspapers, ''The Australian'' and ''The Australian Financial Review''. In 2010, Reporters Without Borders placed Australia 18th on a list of 178 countries ranked by freedom of the press, press freedom, behind New Zealand (8th) but ahead of the United Kingdom (19th) and United States (20th). This relatively low ranking is primarily because of the limited diversity of commercial media ownership in Australia; most print media are under the control of News Corporation (1980–2013), News Corporation and, after Fairfax Media was merged with Nine, Nine Entertainment Co.


Cuisine

Most Indigenous Australian groups subsisted on a simple hunter-gatherer diet of native fauna and flora, otherwise called bush tucker. The first settlers introduced British cuisine, British food to the continent, much of which is now considered typical Australian food, such as the Sunday roast. Multicultural immigration transformed Australian cuisine; post-World War II European migrants, particularly from the Mediterranean, helped to build a thriving Australian coffee culture, and the influence of Culture of Asia, Asian cultures has led to Australian variants of their staple foods, such as the Chinese cuisine, Chinese-inspired dim sim and Chiko Roll. Vegemite, pavlova (food), pavlova, lamingtons and meat pie (Australia and New Zealand), meat pies are regarded as iconic Australian foods. Australian wine is produced mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. Australia is also known for its Coffeehouse, cafe and coffee culture in Urban area, urban centres, which has influenced coffee culture abroad, including New York City. Australia was responsible for the flat white coffee–purported to have originated in a Sydney cafe in the mid-1980s.


Sport and recreation

Cricket and football are the predominate sports in Australia during the summer and winter months, respectively. Australia is unique in that it has professional leagues for football in Australia, four football codes. Originating in Melbourne in the 1850s, Australian rules football is the most popular code in all states except New South Wales and Queensland, where rugby league holds sway, followed by rugby union; the imaginary border separating areas where Australian rules football dominates from those were the two rugby codes prevail is known as the Barassi Line. Association football, Soccer, while ranked fourth in popularity and resources, has the highest overall participation rates. Cricket is popular across all borders and has been regarded by many Australians as the national sport. The Australia national cricket team, Australian national cricket team competed against England cricket team, England in the first Test cricket, Test match (1877) and the first One Day International (1971), and against New Zealand cricket team, New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International (2004), winning all three games. It has also participated in every edition of the Cricket World Cup, winning the tournament a record five times. Australia is also notable for water-based sports, such as swimming and surfing in Australia, surfing. The surf lifesaving movement originated in Australia, and the volunteer lifesaver is one of the country's icons. Nationally, other popular sports include horse racing, basketball, and motor racing. The annual Melbourne Cup horse race and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney to Hobart yacht race attract intense interest. In 2016, the Australian Sports Commission revealed that swimming, cycling and soccer are the three most popular participation sports. Australia is one of five nations to have participated in every Summer Olympics of the modern era, and has hosted the Games twice: 1956 Summer Olympics, 1956 in Melbourne and 2000 Summer Olympics, 2000 in Sydney. Australia has also participated in every Commonwealth Games, hosting the event in 1938 British Empire Games, 1938, 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, 1962, 1982 Commonwealth Games, 1982, 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018. Australia made its inaugural appearance at the Pacific Games in 2015 Pacific Games, 2015. As well as being a regular FIFA World Cup participant, Australia has won the OFC Nations Cup four times and the AFC Asian Cup once—the only country to have won championships in two different FIFA confederations. In June 2020, Australia won Australia–New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup bid, its bid to co-host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with New Zealand. The country regularly competes among the world elite basketball teams as it is among the global top three teams in terms of qualifications to the Basketball Tournament at the Summer Olympics. Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam (tennis), grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Grand Prix, Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The highest-rating television programs include sports telecasts such as the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, The Ashes, Rugby League State of Origin, and the grand finals of the National Rugby League and Australian Football League. Skiing in Australia began in the 1860s and snow sports take place in the Australian Alps and parts of Tasmania.


See also

* Outline of Australia * Index of Australia-related articles


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * *


Further reading

* Denoon, Donald, et al. (2000). ''A History of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific''. Oxford: Blackwell. . * Goad, Philip and Julie Willis (eds.) (2011). ''The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture''. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. . * Hughes, Robert (1986). ''The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding''. Knopf. . * Powell, J.M. (1988). ''An Historical Geography of Modern Australia: The Restive Fringe''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Robinson, G.M., Loughran, R.J., and Tranter, P.J. (2000). ''Australia and New Zealand: Economy, Society and Environment''. London: Arnold; New York: Oxford University Press. paperback, hardback. *


External links

* *
About Australia
from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website
Governments of Australia website
(federal, states and territories)
Australian Government website

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Tourism Australia
* {{Featured article Australia, English-speaking countries and territories States and territories established in 1901 G20 nations Member states of the United Nations Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations Countries in Oceania Countries in Australasia Geographical articles missing image alternative text Transcontinental countries