Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its big neighboring countries are Indonesia and New Zealand.
Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic
political system and is a Commonwealth realm.
The population is 22.5 million, with approximately
60% concentrated in and around the mainland state capitals
of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
The nation's capital city is Canberra, in the Australian
A prosperous developed country, Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, OECD, APEC, Pacific Islands Forum and the World Trade Organization.
The economy of Australia is a developed, modern
market economy with a GDP of approximately $1.2
trillion USD with per capita income of approximately
$55,000 USD. The GDP is growing at 3.3% per annum.
The economy is dominated by agriculture, mining, education,
tourism, manufacturing and service sectors.
Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly wheat and wool, dairy products, meat, wine, minerals such as iron-ore and gold, and energy in the forms of liquified natural gas, coal and uranium.
Due to rising commodity prices the emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade. Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6% for over 15 years. The inflation has been 2–3% and the base interest rate has been around 5–6%. The Australian dollar is with the parity to USD. The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for 69% of GDP. Although agriculture and natural resources account for only 3% and 5% of GDP respectively, they contribute substantially to export revenue. Australia's largest export markets are China, Japan, South Korea, India, USA, New Zealand and UK. Australia has a free-market economy with high GDP per capita and low rate of poverty. The Australian Stock Exchange is the ninth largest stock exchange in the world.
Australia is home to some of the largest companies in the world including, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto Group and News Corp. Australian also has few best banks of the world, Common Wealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank. Ranked third in the Index of Economic Freedom, Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy and has the eleventh highest per capita GDP; higher than that of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada and Japan, and on par with that of the United States. The country was ranked second in the United Nations 2009 Human Development Index and sixth in The Economist worldwide Quality-of-Life Index for 2005.
School attendance is compulsory throughout Australia.
All children receive compulsory education from the age
of 6 to 16 (Year 1 to 10), before they can undertake two
more years (Years 11 and 12), contributing to an adult
literacy rate that is assumed to be 99%. A preparatory
year prior to Year 1, although not compulsory,
is almost universally undertaken. In the Programme
for International Student Assessment, Australia
regularly scores among the top five of thirty
major developed countries. Government grants
have supported the establishment of Australia's
38 universities; all but one is public.
There is a state-based system of vocational training,
known as TAFE Institutes, and many
trades conduct apprenticeships for training new
trades people. Approximately 58% of Australians aged from 25 to 64
have vocational or tertiary qualifications, and the tertiary
graduation rate of 49% is the highest among OECD countries.
Around 24% Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate
in organised sporting activities in Australia. Australia has
strong international teams in cricket, field hockey, netball,
rugby league and rugby union, having been Olympic or world
champions at least twice in each sport in the last 25 years
for both men and women category. Australia is also powerful
in track cycling, rowing and swimming, having consistently
been in the top-five medal-winners at Olympics or World Championship
level since 2000. Swimming is the strongest of these sports;
Australia is the second-most prolific medal winner in the sport in Olympic history.
Australia has participated in every summer Olympics of the modern era and every Commonwealth Games. Australia hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and has ranked among the top six medal-takers since 2000. Australia has also hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open (tennis grand slam tournament), international cricket matches, the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Moto GP.