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Australia

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"I Still Call Australia Home"

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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)

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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 rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English

CURRENCY: Australian Dollar of 100 cents. (notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100) (coins: 5, 10, 20, 50, $1, $2)

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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.

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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.

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TIME: Australia spans 3 time zones.
East - GMT+10 (Daylight saving October-March except Queensland, GMT+11)
Central - GMT+9.5 (Daylight saving October-March except Northern Territory, GMT+10.5)
West - GMT+8

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
AUSTRALIA DAY 26th January
GOOD FRIDAY 
EASTER MONDAY 
ANZAC DAY 25th April
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY
CHRISTMAS DAY 25th December
BOXING DAY 26th December
LABOR DAY Date depends on the State
SHOW DAY Date depends on the State or City
MELBOURNE CUP DAY The horse race that stops a nation is held on the first Tuesday in November

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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.

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