Australia

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions):

20,328,609

Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 92%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.85%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km▓) : 7,741,220


Population origin

Origin of the population % of the population
Native European 94.8
Asian4
Aboriginal2
Other 0.2



Main Cities Population
Sydney 4 119 191
Melbourne 3 592 590
Brisbane 1 763 132
Perth 1 445 077
Adelaide 1 105 840
Tweed Heads 541 675



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney (GMT+10 in winter, GMT+11 in summer).
It is  %T:%M %A  in Adelaide (GMT+9:30 in winter, GMT+10:30 in summer).
It is  %T:%M %A  in Perth (GMT+8).
Summer time from October to April



Languages
Official language: English
Spoken languages: English, Aboriginal dialects, and numerous other languages resulting from immigration such as Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Turkish.
Business language: English (British).

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Religion
Religious practises : Anglicans 26.1%
Catholics 26%
Others 47.9%.


Political context

Australia (Official name: Commonwealth of Australia) is a Federal state based on parliamentary democracy. Australia is an independent nation within the Commonwealth, recognizing the British monarch as sovereign. Prime Minister of the country enjoys maximum powers.
Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state (since 1952) and since 1973 has been officially named as "Queen of Australia." The Queen is represented in Australia by a Governor-General (appointed by her on recommendation of the Prime Minister) and in each province by a Governor. Prime Minister is the head of government. Although the constitution of the country gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, these are normally exercised only on the advice of the Prime Minister. Following legislative elections (general elections are held at least once every 3 years), the leader of the majority party (or majority coalition) is sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General. P rime minister nominates the Cabinet.
The federal Parliament is bicameral, consisting of Senate (the Upper House) and the House of Representatives (the Lower House). Senates are elected for 6-year terms. Members of the lower house are elected from single-member constituencies commonly known as 'seats'. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated to provinces on the basis of population. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are responsible to the Parliament, of which they must be elected members. Australian citizens enjoy considerable political rights.
The judiciary is independent. The main source of law is the constitution of 1901, which is based on English common law. The country accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with certain reservations. The High Court of Australia is the apex court in the country and has general appellate jurisdiction over all other federal and state courts and also possesses the power of constitutional review. The judicial language in the country is English.
The country is ruled by law and foreign nationals enjoy equal treatment from judiciary including commercial disputes. Australia is regarded as one of the least corrupt nations in the world. Although women enjoy equal rights and freedom, violence against women is a problem, particularly within the Aboriginal population.


Major political parties

Australia has a strong two-party system. The two major parties are:
- Liberal Party - conservative, centre-right, neo-liberal, draws support from middle-class;
- Australian Labor Party- social democratic, centre-left, draws support from trade unions;
Other smaller political parties are: National Party (conservative, draws support from rural poulation , in coalition with the Liberal Party), and Australian Democrats (social liberal, a party of middle-class centrists).


Major political leaders

Prime Minister: John Winston HOWARD (since March 1996, re-elected 1998, 2001, 2004) - Liberal Party, heading a coalition government with the conservative National Party.
Governor-General: Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael JEFFERY (since August 2003)


Next political election dates

Senate: No later than June 2008.
House of Representatives: No later than November 2007




Climate

 

 

Australia is a large island continent in the southern hemisphere with a diverse range of climate zones. These vary from tropical regions in the north through the arid expanses of the interior to temperate regions in the south.
Seasonal fluctuations can be great with temperatures ranging from above 50 ░ Celsius to well below zero. Minimum temperatures are moderated by the lack of mountains and the influence of surrounding oceans.
Australia is relatively arid, with 80% of the land having a rainfall less than 600 millimetres per year and 50% having even less than 300 millimetres.
Most Australians live near the wetter more moderate south- eastern coasts primarily in major cities.

For more information about the Australian climate, please visit this web site:

Australian Bureau of Meteorology


 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Australia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 4,774 5,020 5,064
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Australia consists of six states, each one has its particularities :

- New South Wales is the most populous state in Australia.It receives a large number of overseas visitors, particularly to Sydney, with its famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge and many fine beaches close to the city. With more than 4 million inhabitants, Sydney is well endowed with fine restaurants, theatres, art galleries and historical sites relating to the first European immigrants, as well as to the indigenous people of Australia, the Aborigines.

More information about Sydney is available from the following web site: Sydney

- Victoria :
Melbourne is AustraliaĂs second biggest city, more than 3.7 million people, and is renowned for its cultural life, with theatre, music, fashion, and international sporting events. It is home to many European nationalities, such as Greeks, Italians, as well as a Chinese population.

For more information about Melbourne and Victoria,visit the following web site: Melbourne

- Queensland :
Brisbane is Australia's third biggest and fastest growing city with over 1.8 million inhabitants. The South East Queensland region is home to over 3 million people who live in a sub-tropical climate. In recent years, Brisbane has developed a sophisticated restaurant scene, nightlife, and excellent shopping , it also has a good cultural life( theatres, art galleries, museums and concert halls). With its river, Moreton Bay and easy access to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane is an excellent choice for a holiday.

- South Australia:
The city of Adelaide is appreciated for its architecture, relaxed lifestyle and its modernism. Adelaide is the home of various festivals, and is a University City.With a resident population of over 1.1 million people, the city has many fine restaurants, good shopping, entertainment.
Places to visit: the Barossa Valley, the Coonawarra region, Kangaroo Island.

- Western Australia:
Western Australia is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Great Southern Ocean to the south. Its capital city Perth is over 3200 kilometres from Sydney and it is probably one of the most isolated capital cities in the world. It is closer to Jakarta in Indonesia (3004 kilometres) than it is to Sydney!
However, it is a beautiful and modern city with a great climate and lifestyle. It has a population of over 1.5 million people, which is rapidly growing, so it has With all the amenities of a big city, Perth retains the relaxed lifestyle of a provincial city. The standard of living in Perth is extremely high.

The economy of Western Australia is booming, because of the demand from China and other parts of South East Asia for mineral resources, which Western Australia has in abundance, such as coal, iron ore, uranium, bauxite (alumina), nickel, gold, silver, diamonds, etc. as well as petroleum and vast reserves of natural gas.

- Tasmania :
Tasmania is an island situated south of Victoria, with a population of nearly 500,000 people. It is famous for its beautiful scenery, horticultural products, and wines. Hobart,the capital, has a population of over 200,000 people. With little industry, Tasmania is blessed with clean air and unpolluted waters.

- Northern Territory :
The Northern Territory is Australia's smallest region in terms of population, with only about 200,000 inhabitants. There is a lot of uninhabited land. Its climate varies from Tropical in the north to Desert and Tundra in the south. One of the most famous tourist attractions of the region is Ayers Rock (Uluru÷ as it is known to the indigenous people). The territory is home to a wide variety of animals, such as the big salt-water crocodiles, big red kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies, and many different bird species. It is also abundant in fish and reptiles. Darwin is the capital city of the territory .This is a small city with a tropical climate, which has recently been linked to the rest of Australia by the railway ("Ghan")stretching all the way to Adelaide, a distance of nearly 3000 kilometres.

For more information about tourism in Australia , check out the following web site(s) :
Australian Tourist Commission



Food


Traditional dishes
Due to the generally warm climate, Australians love the outdoor life, and particularly enjoy barbecues. One great tradition is a barbecue on the beach on Christmas day. This is where Australian men have a chance to practice their rudimentary culinary skills, by cooking prawns or shrimps, leg of lamb, steak, sausages and onions on the barbecue, whilst drinking their favourite beer. Their wives, who drink either white wine or sparkling wine, usually provide the salads, probably potato salad, bean salad, coleslaw, and other salads, and also the dessert, which is generally a pavlova, with a fresh fruit salad.

Australian Cheesecake
Australian Dinkum Chili: Australian Chili with bacon, beef and pork flavoured with cumin, garlic, hot pepper and onions.
King Prawns
Chicken with basil sauce.
Curried Mussels with Mushrooms.
Kangaroo Escalopes with Spinach and Anchovy Butter.
Squid or Octopus Salad
Anzac Biscuits: biscuits named after the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps during the First and Second World Wars. Created by women concerned about nutrition for their soldier menfolk while they were away fighting, the biscuits are notable for their long shelf life.

Pavlova - meringue pudding, usually topped with strawberries or kiwifruit. Named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who visited Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and 1929.

Vegemite-vegemite is a concentrated yeast extract used as a spread for toast and bread.

Lamingtons-sponge cakes coated with chocolate and coconut


Food-related taboos
Culinary taboos vary with religions.

Last modified on December 2006

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