"I Still Call Australia Home"
OFFICIAL NAME: Commonwealth of Australia
POPULATION: 18,532,200 (1997) (2 per kmē)
AREA: 7,692,300 kmē (smallest continent and sixth largest country)
COASTLINE: 36,735 km
LOCATION: Southern Hemisphere (approx. 40% of it is North of the Tropic of Capricorn)
STATES: 6 (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania)
TERRITORIES: 2 (Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory)
EXTERNAL TERRITORIES: 7 (Norfolk Island, Cocos Island, Christmas Island, Australian Antarctic Territory and sub Antarctic McDonald Islands, Territory of Heard Island, Ashmore and Cartier Islands Territory, Coral Sea Islands Territory)
CAPITAL CITY: Canberra
OTHER CHIEF CITIES: Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
NATIONAL FLORAL EMBLEM: Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha Benth)
NATIONAL COLOURS: Green and gold (taken from the colour of the leaves and flower of the floral emblem)
NATIONAL GEMSTONE: Opal
NATIONAL ANTHEM: "ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR"
Australians all let us
Beneath our radiant
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English
CURRENCY: Australian Dollar of 100 cents. (notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100) (coins: 5, 10, 20, 50, $1, $2)
HEAD OF STATE: Queen of England represented by the Governor General
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister
GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
FEDERAL PARLIAMENT: 76 member Senate elected for 6 years and 147 member House of Representatives elected every 3 years. Head of State is a Governor General, representing the Queen. Northern Territory has been self-governing since 1978.
STATE PARLIAMENT: Parliaments have executive council consisting of Governor, Premier, and selected ministers. State Governments modelled on British Westminster system. They deal with transport, health, law enforcement, education, agriculture, and mutually shared responsibilities with the Federal Government. Each State and Territory has its own capital city, flag, flora and fauna emblems, and constitution.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: City municipalities dealing with community matters that include roads, water, parks and recreation, urban planning, and public libraries.
CLIMATE: Second driest continent after Antarctica. Two climatic zones - tropical zone north of Tropic of Capricorn and which has 2 seasons, a wet summer and dry winter. Temperate zone which has all 4 seasons. Seasons are opposite to Northern Hemisphere (Spring September-November, Summer December-February, Autumn March-May, Winter June -August). Temperatures and rainfall vary between areas but there are generally no extremes. Christmas is in Summer with a BBQ at the beach being common.
GEOGRAPHY: Bounded by Arafura and Timor Seas (North), Southern Ocean (South), Indian Ocean (West), and the Coral and Tasman Seas of the South Pacific (East). More than 80% of it's population lives along its coastlines. About 26% of the total land area is unused and mainly desert, 67% used for agriculture. Australia is the only country occupying a whole continent. Coastline cosists of bays, surf beaches, cliffs, and rocky outcrops. The continent is one of the oldest landmasses and flattest of all continents. Its highest point is Mt Kosciusko, in the Australian Alps, which is 2228m high. Its longest river is the Darling River at 2736km long. Terrain is varied, ranging from red deserts to lush green rainforests, tropical beaches to snowy mountain peaks. There are more than 2000 national parks and protected wilderness areas and it has vast mineral deposits. Outside its cities, the air is some of the cleanest in the world and there are no less than 13 World Heritage listed areas. The interior has few permanent watercourses but groundwater lies under most of the continent, the largest resource being the Great Artesian Basin which is 1.7 million kmē.
Australia spans 3 time zones.
ECONOMICS: The world's largest wool producer and a top veal and beef exporter. The most important crop is wheat and other major crops include oats, barley, maize, sugar, and sorghum. A major mineral producer of petroleum, zinc, copper, tin, bauxite, nickel, iron ore, uranium, and others. The Gippsland basin produces 2/3 of the country's oil and most of its natural gas. Major industries include engineering, textiles, clothing, metals, car manufacture, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, and wine.
ELECTRICITY: 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz 3 pin plugs. Sockets are different to most other countries and adaptor socket required for tourists. Most hotels have outlets for 110 volts.
SPECIAL EVENTS: NEW
YEARS DAY 1st January
SOCIAL CONVENTIONS: Largely informal and the customary greeting is shaking hands. Mostly casual wear is worn except in business, restaurants, and certain social gatherings. Most restaurants now forbid smoking and tipping is not common except maybe in restaurants.
DANGERS: When bushwalking, wear boots, thick long socks, long pants, and don't put your hands into holes. Snakes, ticks, and leeches are common. Check for ticks and leeches thoroughly after bushwalking and remove ticks with methylated spirits or kerosene and remove leeches with salt or heat. If stung or bitten by venomous wildlife, stay calm and wrap the area with a tight bandage, attach a splint and keep the limb very still then seek medical attention. Also use this procedure if stung by poisonous marine life but douse the wound with vinegar first and don't remove the stingers. Swim only in protected areas and heed warning signs of crocodiles, sharks, and stingers. If travelling in the outback, be sure to inform police stations either end of your route, of your travel plans so it will be known if you don't arrive as scheduled. If you break down in Central Australia, do not under any circumstances, leave your vehicle or you will almost definitely perish. Stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
THINGS TO DO IF YOU VISIT AUSTRALIA: Visit a pub for that unique Aussie charm, particularly in small towns. Pubs also offer very good, cheap counter meals. Attend an Aboriginal music and dance performance which is a great cultural experience. Try vegemite and a meat pie. You will never forget either experience for different reasons. Visit a working sheep station or woolshed to learn what Australia is all about. Spend one day enjoying the coastal scene as this is Australia's true lifestyle. But don't be surprised by the lack of beachwear. There are also some good nude beaches such as Lady Jane in Sydney. Explore the rainforest, especially if you love nature. Cuddle a koala. Some areas have stopped this and koalas are known to pee on tourists but it is still a unique experience to say the least. So is hand feeding kangaroos and emus in the wildlife parks. Visit the Great Barrier Reef for its colours and beauty that will stay with you forever. Visit Ayers Rock. Although climbing the rock is no longer permitted, to witness it is something else.