Explore map of Australia, it is a large country located in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It's known for its diverse landscapes which include deserts, forests, and beaches. The famous Outback, a vast, remote, arid area, is one of its unique features. Australia is the world's smallest continent and sixth-largest country by total area. It has a coastline that stretches over 25,000 kilometers, famous for its beautiful beaches. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, is located off the northeast coast. Australia’s major cities, like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, are located along the coast. The country's interior, known as the Outback, is sparsely populated and known for its red deserts and rugged terrain.
Expore map of Australia, it is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area.
States and territories of Australia
Australia is made up of six states and several territories. The states are New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (Qld), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (Tas), Victoria (Vic), and Western Australia (WA). The mainland territories include the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Northern Territory (NT), and the Jervis Bay Territory (JBT). The ACT and NT have their own governments, but the federal government can change or cancel laws made by these territories.
In terms of power, the states can make laws about almost anything, while the federal government can only make laws about certain topics listed in the constitution. This means states handle things like education, criminal law, health, and transport, but the federal government doesn't have direct power in these areas. However, if a state law conflicts with a federal law, the federal law wins.
Each state and main territory has its own parliament. The Northern Territory, ACT, and Queensland have one chamber, while the other states have two. These states and territories are self-governing but must follow some federal rules. The lower chambers of parliament are usually called the Legislative Assembly, except in South Australia and Tasmania where it's the House of Assembly. The upper chambers are called the Legislative Council. Each state's leader is called the Premier and in each territory, it's the Chief Minister. The King of Australia is represented in each state by a governor and at the federal level by the governor-general.
The federal government also manages external territories like Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and the Australian Antarctic Territory. It also runs the Jervis Bay Territory, a naval base and sea port originally part of New South Wales. Norfolk Island used to govern itself but in 2015, the federal government took over, integrating it into Australia's tax and welfare systems and replacing its legislative assembly with a council. Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania, and Lord Howe Island is part of New South Wales.
Australia, known as the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country that includes the mainland of the Australian continent, Tasmania island, and many smaller islands. It's the biggest country in Oceania and the sixth-largest in the world. Australia is known for being very old, quite flat, and the driest inhabited continent, with soil that isn't very fertile. The country is home to a huge variety of plants and animals. Its large size means it has many different landscapes and climates, like deserts in the middle, tropical rainforests in the northeast, and mountains in the southeast.
Aboriginal Australians, whose ancestors came from Southeast Asia between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago, were Australia's first people. They arrived by sea and were living all over the continent with around 250 distinct language groups by the time Europeans arrived. They have some of the world's oldest continuous cultural traditions. Europeans first explored Australia by sea. The first European known to have seen Australia was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. In 1770, British explorer James Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for Great Britain. In 1788, British ships arrived at Sydney to start a penal colony in New South Wales. During the gold rush of the 1850s, Europeans explored most of Australia and established more colonies. By 1901, the six colonies voted to join together as the Commonwealth of Australia, gradually becoming more independent from the United Kingdom.
Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy with six states and ten territories. Almost 27 million people live in Australia, mostly on the eastern coast. Canberra is the capital, and the biggest cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. Australia is known for its cultural diversity, with many people coming from different countries. The economy is strong and comes from services, mining, banking, manufacturing, agriculture, and education. Australia is known for its good quality of life, health care, education, and freedom.
Australia has a developed market economy and is one of the wealthiest per person. It is influential in the region and spends a lot on its military. Australia is part of many international groups like the United Nations, G20, and Commonwealth of Nations. It has strong ties with the United States and is a major ally.
History of Australia
Indigenous Australians are made up of two main groups: the Aboriginal peoples from the Australian mainland and nearby islands including Tasmania, and the Torres Strait Islanders, who are a unique Melanesian group. People started living in Australia about 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. They came from what is now Southeast Asia, traveling over land bridges and across short stretches of sea. It's not clear how many different times people came to Australia, leading to the ancestors of today's Aboriginal Australians. The oldest site with evidence of humans in Australia is the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land. The oldest human remains are the Lake Mungo remains, about 41,000 years old.
The culture of Aboriginal Australians is one of the world's oldest ongoing cultures. When Europeans first arrived, the Aboriginal Australians were skilled hunter-gatherers. They had different ways of living and about 250 languages. Studies suggest there could have been up to 750,000 people. Aboriginal Australians have a culture that focuses a lot on storytelling. They have deep respect for the land and believe in the Dreamtime, which is part of their spiritual beliefs.
The Torres Strait Islander people settled on their islands about 4,000 years ago. They are different from mainland Aboriginal people in their culture and language. They were skilled at sailing and lived by farming seasonally and using the resources from the reefs and the sea.
European Colonisation and Exploration
Australia's northern coasts and waters were occasionally visited by Makassan fishermen from present-day Indonesia for trade. The first European to see and land on the Australian mainland were the Dutch. In 1606, Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, commanding the Duyfken, sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula and landed at the Pennefather River near what is now Weipa on 26 February. That same year, Spanish explorer Luís Vaz de Torres navigated the Torres Strait Islands. During the 17th century, the Dutch mapped much of Australia's western and northern coasts, calling it "New Holland." While they didn't settle there, shipwrecks like that of the Batavia in 1629 led to some Europeans living permanently on the continent. In 1770, Captain James Cook mapped the east coast, naming it "New South Wales," and claimed it for Britain.
After losing its American colonies in 1783, Britain sent the First Fleet, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, to start a new penal colony in New South Wales. They raised the Union Flag at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, on 26 January 1788, a date now celebrated as Australia's national day. Early convicts were mainly sent for minor crimes and worked for free settlers. Some convicts joined in rebellions, but these were always put down. The 1808 Rum Rebellion was the only successful overthrow of government in Australia, leading to two years of military rule. In the following decade, Governor Lachlan Macquarie's reforms helped change New South Wales from a penal colony to a civil society.
The indigenous population of Australia dropped sharply in the 150 years after European settlement, mostly due to diseases brought by settlers. Thousands also died in conflicts with the newcomers.
In the early 1800s, the British expanded further into Australia, starting along the coast. They set up a settlement in Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, in 1803. In 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, and William Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, making it possible for Europeans to settle in the interior of the continent. By 1827, the British had claimed the entire Australian continent when Major Edmund Lockyer established a settlement at King George Sound, now Albany. The Swan River Colony, which is now Perth, was founded in 1829 and later became Western Australia, the largest Australian colony by area. As the population grew, new colonies were created from parts of New South Wales: Tasmania in 1825, South Australia in 1836, New Zealand in 1841, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859. South Australia and Western Australia were both started as free colonies, not penal colonies, though Western Australia later accepted convicts until 1868.
In 1823, New South Wales got a Legislative Council chosen by the governor and a new Supreme Court, reducing the power of colonial governors. Between 1855 and 1890, each of the six colonies gained responsible government, managing most of their affairs while still part of the British Empire. The British government in London kept control of some areas, especially foreign affairs and defense.
In the mid-1800s, explorers like Burke and Wills went inland to see if the land was good for farming and to answer scientific questions. Gold rushes starting in the early 1850s brought many people from places like China, North America, and Europe. This led to bushranging and unrest, with a peak in 1854 when miners in Ballarat staged the Eureka Rebellion against gold license fees.
Starting in 1886, Australian colonial governments began policies that led to many Aboriginal children being taken away from their families and communities, a period known as the Stolen Generations.
Federation to the World Wars
On 1 January 1901, after years of planning, meetings, and votes, Australia's colonies united to form the nation of the Commonwealth of Australia. This was when the Australian Constitution started to be used.
In 1907, Australia, along with some other British colonies that could govern themselves, became "dominions" within the British Empire. This gave them more independence. Australia was a founding member of the League of Nations in 1920 and later of the United Nations in 1945. The Statute of Westminster in 1931 officially reduced the control the United Kingdom had over Australia. Australia accepted this statute in 1942, applying it from 1939 to make sure laws made during World War II were valid.
The Federal Capital Territory, later called the Australian Capital Territory, was created in 1911 to be the site of Canberra, the future capital. Melbourne was the temporary capital from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being built. In 1911, the Northern Territory was passed from South Australia to the federal government. Australia took over Papua in 1902 and New Guinea in 1920. These territories were combined in 1949 and became independent in 1975.
Australia joined the Allies in World War I in 1914, fighting in major battles on the Western Front. About 60,000 of the 416,000 Australians who served were killed, and 152,000 were injured. The ANZACs' loss at Gallipoli in 1915 is seen as a key moment in Australian history, remembered each year on Anzac Day.
From 1939 to 1945, Australia again joined the Allies in World War II, fighting in the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. The bombing of Darwin and other Japanese attacks in 1942 made many Australians think Japan might invade. This led to a move from seeing the United Kingdom as Australia's main ally to seeing the United States in this role. Since 1951, Australia has been formally allied with the U.S. through the ANZUS treaty.
Post-war and Contemporary Eras
After World War II, Australia saw big improvements in living standards, more leisure time, and growth in the suburbs. The country used the motto "populate or perish" to encourage a lot of people from Europe to move to Australia. These people were known as "New Australians".
During the Cold War, Australia, part of the Western Bloc, fought in the Korean War and the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s, and the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972. At this time, there were efforts by the Menzies Government to ban the Communist Party of Australia, which didn't work, and the Labor Party split in 1955 because of disagreements about communism.
In 1967, a referendum allowed the Federal Government to make policies to help Aboriginal people, and all Indigenous Australians were counted in the Census for the first time. In a landmark case in 1992, the High Court of Australia recognized that Indigenous Australians had rights to their land, which went against the previous idea that Australia was "land belonging to no one" when Europeans first arrived.
After ending the White Australia policy in 1973, which had limited non-European immigration, Australia's population and culture changed a lot with many people coming from Asia. In the late 20th century, Australia focused more on its relationships with other countries around the Pacific. The Australia Act in 1986 cut the last constitutional ties with the United Kingdom. In a 1999 vote, most Australians chose to keep the monarchy instead of becoming a republic.
After the September 11 attacks in the United States, Australia helped the U.S. fight in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 and in Iraq from 2003 to 2009. In the 21st century, Australia's trade has focused more on East Asia, with China becoming its biggest trading partner.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in Australia in 2020, big cities were locked down for a long time, and travel between states was limited to stop the virus from spreading.
Geography of Australia
Australia is located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It's separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas, with the Coral Sea near Queensland and the Tasman Sea between it and New Zealand. Known as the world's smallest continent and sixth-largest country, Australia is sometimes called the "island continent" and is thought of as the world's largest island. It has a coastline of 34,218 km (21,262 mi) and an Exclusive Economic Zone covering 8,148,250 square kilometers, but this does not include the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The mainland of Australia stretches from latitudes 9° to 44° South, and longitudes 112° to 154° East. Its large size means it has many different landscapes, like tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountains in the southeast, southwest, and east, and mostly desert in the center, known as the outback. Australia is the driest inhabited continent with an average rainfall of less than 500 mm a year. Most people live along the southeastern coast. Melbourne's city center has a high population density.
The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, is just off the northeast coast. Mount Augustus, possibly the world's largest monolith, is in Western Australia. The highest mountain on the mainland is Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 m (7,310 ft). Higher peaks are found on the external territory of Heard Island and in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Eastern Australia features the Great Dividing Range, which runs along the coast of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. The range includes hills and highlands, with the uplands not exceeding 1,600 m (5,200 ft) in height. Between the coast and the mountains are coastal uplands and Brigalow grasslands. Beyond the range, there are large grassland and shrubland areas, including the western plains of New South Wales and Queensland's Mitchell Grass Downs and Mulga Lands.
The Top End and the Gulf Country in the north have a tropical climate with various landscapes like forests, wetlands, and deserts. The Kimberley and Pilbara regions in the northwest have sandstone cliffs and gorges. The Victoria Plains tropical savanna lies south of the Kimberley and Arnhem Land savannas. Central Australia features landmarks like Uluru, various deserts, and the Nullarbor Plain on the southern coast. The mulga shrublands in Western Australia are between the interior deserts and Southwest Australia.
Australia sits on the Indo-Australian Plate and is one of the flattest and oldest landmasses in the world with a stable geological past. The continent contains almost every type of rock and spans over 3.8 billion years of Earth's history. The Pilbara Craton in Australia is one of the oldest parts of the earth's crust, dating back 3.6–2.7 billion years.
Australia has been part of every major supercontinent. It started to take its current shape after separating from Gondwana in the Permian period. This separation from Africa and the Indian subcontinent continued until the Cretaceous period. Australia then split from Antarctica. About 10,000 BC, when the last Ice Age ended, sea levels rose, creating Bass Strait and isolating Tasmania from the mainland. Between 8,000 and 6,500 BC, rising seas also separated New Guinea and Australia. The Australian continent moves towards Eurasia about 6 to 7 cm a year.
The thickness of Australia's continental crust (not including the edges) averages 38 km, ranging from 24 km to 59 km. Australia's geology can be split into main parts, showing growth from west to east: the ancient cratonic shields in the west, Proterozoic fold belts in the center, and younger sedimentary basins and rocks in the east.
Both the Australian mainland and Tasmania are in the middle of a tectonic plate, so they don't have active volcanoes. However, there have been some recent volcanic activities in western Victoria and southeastern South Australia due to the East Australia hotspot. Volcanic activity also happens in New Guinea (part of the Australian continent geologically) and the Australian territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. Earthquakes are rare in Australia, with the most deadly one happening in Newcastle in 1989.
Australia's climate is greatly affected by ocean currents, such as the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. These currents are linked to changes like droughts and cyclones, especially in northern Australia. This leads to very different amounts of rain from one year to the next. The northern part of Australia usually has a tropical climate with most of its rain in the summer (monsoon). The southwest corner has a Mediterranean climate. The southeast part varies from oceanic in places like Tasmania and coastal Victoria to humid subtropical in the upper part of New South Wales. The highlands have alpine and subpolar oceanic climates, while the interior is mostly dry.
Due to climate change, average temperatures in Australia have gone up by more than 1°C since 1960. This has led to changes in rain and more extreme weather like droughts and bushfires. The year 2019 was the hottest ever recorded in Australia, and the 2019–2020 bushfire season was the worst the country has ever had. Australia's greenhouse gas emissions per person are some of the highest in the world.
Many areas and cities in Australia often have water restrictions because of long-term shortages. These shortages happen because of more people living in cities and local droughts. After long droughts, Australia sometimes gets big floods. These floods can fill rivers, overflow dams, and cover large inland areas with water. This happened in Eastern Australia in the early 2010s after the droughts in the 2000s.
Most of Australia is dry or desert, but it also has many different environments like alpine areas and tropical rainforests. The country has a lot of fungi – around 250,000 types, but only 5% of these have been studied. Australia's wildlife is quite special because of the continent's old age, changing weather, and isolation. About 85% of its flowering plants, 84% of mammals, over 45% of birds, and 89% of coastal fish in temperate zones are found only in Australia. The country has more than 755 kinds of reptiles, which is more than any other country. Australia developed without any native feline species. Feral cats probably came with Dutch shipwrecks in the 17th century and European settlers in the 18th century. Now, they're a big problem for Australia's native animals. People from Asia likely brought dingoes to Australia around 4000 years ago, and they spread across the country with the help of Aboriginal people. This may have led to the disappearance of the thylacine on the mainland. Australia is known for its biodiversity.
Australian forests are mostly evergreen trees, like eucalyptus in less dry areas, and wattles in drier places and deserts. Famous Australian animals include monotremes like the platypus and echidna, marsupials like kangaroos, koalas, and wombats, and birds like emus and kookaburras. Australia has many dangerous animals, including some of the world's most venomous snakes. The dingo came to Australia around 3000 BCE with people who traded with Indigenous Australians. Many animals and plants have gone extinct in Australia since humans arrived, including large prehistoric animals and, more recently, the thylacine.
Australia's many different ecosystems and the species in them are threatened by human activities and introduced species. This has led to Australia having the world's highest rate of mammal extinctions. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 aims to protect threatened species. Australia has created protected areas and is part of international agreements to protect unique ecosystems. Sixteen natural World Heritage Sites have been established in Australia. The country was ranked 21st in the world on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. There are over 1,800 threatened species in Australia, including more than 500 animals.
In South Australia, paleontologists found a fossil site in McGraths Flat. This site shows that what is now a dry area was once a rainforest with lots of life.
Economy of Australia
Australia's economy is a high-income, mixed-market type and is known for its natural resources. It's the 14th largest in the world based on nominal GDP and 18th based on purchasing power parity (PPP). As of 2021, Australia has the second-highest wealth per adult after Luxembourg and is ranked thirteenth globally for financial assets per person. The country has about 13.5 million people working, with an unemployment rate of 3.5% as of June 2022. However, over 13.6% of Australians, about 3.2 million people, live in poverty, including 774,000 children under 15 years old.
The Australian dollar is the country's currency and is also used in Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Australia's national debt is around $963 billion, more than 45.1% of its GDP, making it the eighth highest in the world. In 2020, Australia had the second-highest level of household debt globally, following Switzerland. House prices in Australia, especially in big cities, are among the highest worldwide.
The service sector contributes about 71.2% to the GDP, followed by the industrial sector at 25.3%, while agriculture is the smallest at only 3.6%. Australia is the 21st largest exporter and 24th largest importer in the world. China is its biggest trading partner, involved in 40% of exports and 17.6% of imports. Other important export markets include Japan, the USA, and South Korea.
Australia ranks highly for competitiveness and economic freedom, being fifth in the Human Development Index in 2021. In 2022, it stood twelfth in the Index of Economic Freedom and nineteenth in the Global Competitiveness Report. In 2019, 9.5 million international tourists visited Australia. It was the thirteenth most popular destination in the Asia-Pacific for tourists in 2019 and was ranked seventh in the world for travel and tourism competitiveness out of 117 countries in 2021. In 2019, Australia earned $45.7 billion from international tourism.
In 2003, Australia mainly used coal for its energy, making up 58.4% of its sources. Other sources included hydropower (19.1%), natural gas (13.5%), plants that can switch between liquid and gas fossil fuels (5.4%), oil (2.9%), and renewable resources like wind, solar, and bioenergy (0.7%). Over the 21st century, Australia has been shifting towards more renewable energy and less reliance on fossil fuels. By 2020, coal was still the main source at 62% (a slight increase from 2013), but wind power had grown to 9.9% (up from 2013), natural gas was at 9.9% (a decrease), solar power also reached 9.9% (a big increase), hydropower dropped to 6.4%, bioenergy was at 1.4% (up slightly), and other sources like oil and waste coal mine gas were at 0.5%.
In 2009, the Australian government aimed to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. They surpassed this target, with renewable sources making up 27.7% of the country's energy in 2020.
Science and Technology
In 2019, Australia invested A$35.6 billion in research and development, which was about 1.79% of its GDP. A study by Accenture for the Tech Council found that Australia's tech sector adds $167 billion annually to the economy and provides jobs to 861,000 people. The most notable industry in this sector is mining. Australia leads in using advanced technologies in mining, like drones, autonomous and remote-controlled vehicles, and mine management software. The startup scenes in Sydney and Melbourne are also growing, now worth a combined $34 billion. In the Global Innovation Index of 2023, Australia was ranked 24th.
Though Australia has only 0.3% of the world's population, it contributed 4.1% of the world's published research in 2020. This makes it one of the top 10 research contributors globally. CSIRO, the national science agency of Australia, accounts for 10% of the country's research. Australian universities also conduct significant research. Notable Australian inventions include atomic absorption spectroscopy, key components of Wi-Fi technology, and the first successful polymer banknote.
Australia plays a significant role in space exploration. Facilities like the Square Kilometre Array and the Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescopes, the Siding Spring Observatory, and ground stations like the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, are vital for deep space missions, especially those conducted by NASA.
Demographics of Australia
Australia has a low average population density of only 3.5 people per square kilometer of its land. This makes it one of the least densely populated countries globally. Most of its population is found along the east coast, especially in the southeast region stretching from South East Queensland in the northeast to Adelaide in the southwest.
The country is mostly urban, with 67% of its people living in major city areas as of 2018. These big city areas, known as Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, include the metropolitan regions of the state and mainland territorial capital cities. Cities in Australia that have more than a million people are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
Like many developed countries, Australia's population is getting older. This means there are more retired people and fewer people of working age. In 2018, the average age of people in Australia was 38.8 years. In 2015, only 2.15% of Australians were living overseas, which is one of the smallest percentages in the world.
Ancestry and Immigration
From 1788 until World War II, most people who settled in or moved to Australia were from the British Isles, mainly England, Ireland, and Scotland. During the 19th century, there were also quite a few immigrants from China and Germany. Right after World War II, Australia saw a big increase in immigrants from across Europe, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe. Since the end of the White Australia policy in 1973, which was a policy that favored immigrants from certain countries, Australia has embraced multiculturalism. Since then, there has been a continuous flow of immigrants from all over the world, with many coming from Asian countries in the 21st century.
Today, Australia has the eighth-largest immigrant population in the world. Immigrants make up 30% of the population, which is a higher proportion than in most other Western countries. In 2018-2019, 160,323 permanent immigrants (not including refugees) were accepted into Australia. That year saw a net increase of 239,600 people from all immigration. Most immigrants have skills needed in Australia, but there are also categories for family members and refugees. In 2020, the largest groups of foreign-born people were from England (3.8%), India (2.8%), Mainland China (2.5%), New Zealand (2.2%), the Philippines (1.2%), and Vietnam (1.1%).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics doesn't collect information on race, but it does ask people to name up to two ancestries during each census. These ancestries are put into broad groups. In the 2021 census, 57.2% of people identified as European (including 46% North-West European and 11.2% Southern and Eastern European), 33.8% as Oceanian, 17.4% as Asian (including 6.5% Southern and Central Asian, 6.4% North-East Asian, and 4.5% South-East Asian), 3.2% as North African and Middle Eastern, 1.4% as Peoples of the Americas, and 1.3% as Sub-Saharan African. The most common individual ancestries were English (33%), Australian (29.9%), Irish (9.5%), Scottish (8.6%), Chinese (5.5%), Italian (4.4%), German (4%), Indian (3.1%), Aboriginal (2.9%), Greek (1.7%), Filipino (1.6%), Dutch (1.5%), Vietnamese (1.3%), and Lebanese (1%).
In the 2021 census, 3.8% of Australians identified as Indigenous—either Aboriginal Australians or Torres Strait Islanders.
Even though English isn't officially the law-defined language of Australia, it's the main language spoken and considered the national language. Australian English has its own unique accent and vocabulary, and it's a bit different from other types of English in terms of grammar and spelling. The standard form of Australian English is known as General Australian.
In the 2021 census, 72% of people in Australia said they only spoke English at home. Other common languages spoken at home include Mandarin (2.7%), Arabic (1.4%), Vietnamese (1.3%), Cantonese (1.2%), and Punjabi (0.9%).
Originally, there were thought to be over 250 Aboriginal Australian languages when Europeans first arrived. According to the National Indigenous Languages Survey for 2018–19, more than 120 Indigenous language varieties are still being used or revived, but about 70 of these are endangered. The 2021 census recorded that 167 Indigenous languages were spoken at home by 76,978 Indigenous Australians. The survey and the Australian Bureau of Statistics classify Indigenous Australian languages differently.
Auslan, the Australian sign language, was used at home by 16,242 people, as reported in the 2021 census.
Australia doesn't have an official state religion. According to Section 116 of the Australian Constitution, the federal government can't pass any laws to establish a religion, enforce religious practices, or restrict the freedom to practice any religion.
As of 2023, the majority of Australians don't identify with any particular religion. In the 2021 Census, 38.9% of the population stated that they have "no religion," which is a significant increase from 15.5% in 2001.
Christianity is the largest religious group, with 43.9% of the population identifying as Christian. The Roman Catholic Church makes up 20% of the population, and the Anglican Church of Australia represents 9.8%.
Due to multicultural immigration, non-Christian religions have also grown. The most prominent among them are Islam (3.2%), Hinduism (2.7%), Buddhism (2.4%), Sikhism (0.8%), and Judaism (0.4%).
In 2021, nearly 8,000 people in Australia stated their affiliation with traditional Aboriginal religions. In Aboriginal Australian mythology, there's a concept called the Dreaming, which represents a sacred time when ancestral spirit beings created the world. The Dreaming also established the rules and structures of society and the rituals performed to ensure the continuity of life and the land.
Australia has a life expectancy of 83 years, which is the fifth-highest globally. Specifically, it's 81 years for males and 85 years for females. However, Australia faces health challenges, including having the highest rate of skin cancer globally. Smoking is a major contributor to preventable deaths, responsible for 7.8% of mortality and disease. Hypertension and obesity also rank high among preventable causes, at 7.6% and 7.5%, respectively.
In terms of obesity, Australia ranked 35th globally in 2012 for the proportion of obese women and is among the top developed nations for the percentage of obese adults. Shockingly, 63% of Australian adults are either overweight or obese.
Australia allocates approximately 9.91% of its total GDP to healthcare as of 2021. The country introduced universal healthcare, known as Medicare, in 1975. Medicare is funded by an income tax surcharge called the Medicare levy, currently set at 2%. Hospital management and outpatient services are under state jurisdiction, while the Commonwealth government funds the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which subsidizes medicine costs, and general practice.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia implemented strict quarantine policies, resulting in one of the lowest death rates worldwide.
In Australia, school attendance or homeschooling registration is compulsory nationwide. The responsibility for education lies with individual states and territories, leading to variations in rules. Generally, children must attend school from around age 5 to approximately age 16. In certain states like Western Australia, Northern Territory, and New South Wales, those aged 16 to 17 must either attend school or engage in vocational training, like an apprenticeship.
Australia boasts an adult literacy rate estimated at 99% in 2003. However, a report from 2011-2012 indicated that Tasmania had a literacy and numeracy rate of only 50%.
The country has 37 government-funded universities and three private universities, along with specialized institutions offering approved higher education courses. According to the OECD, Australia ranks among the most expensive nations for university education. Vocational training is organized under a state-based system called TAFE, with many trades offering apprenticeships for training new tradespeople. Approximately 58% of Australians aged 25 to 64 have vocational or tertiary qualifications, and Australia boasts the highest tertiary graduation rate among OECD countries. Impressively, 30.9% of the population holds higher education qualifications, one of the highest percentages globally.
Australia stands out with the highest ratio of international students per capita worldwide. In 2019, the nation hosted 812,000 international students enrolled in universities and vocational institutions, making up an average of 26.7% of the student bodies in Australian universities. International education is a major export for Australia, significantly impacting the country's demographics. Many international students choose to stay in Australia after graduation on various skill and employment visas. Education ranks as Australia's third-largest export, following iron ore and coal, contributing over $28 billion to the economy in 2016-17.