Background: Australia joined the Commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to use its natural resources to rapidly develop agriculture and manufacturing industries and make an important contribution to the British struggle in the First and Second World Wars. Long-term problems include environmental pollution, in particular ozone depletion, and the control and protection of coastal zones, especially the Great Barrier Reef. In 1999, a referendum failed to accept a proposal to change the status of Australia and turn it from a member of the Commonwealth, headed by the British monarch, into an independent republic. See areacodesexplorer.com to know more about Australia History.
Location: Oceania, a continent located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
Geographical coordinates: 27° 00′ S. latitude, 133° 00′ E
Reference map: Oceania.
Area: Total: 7,686,850 km2; land surface area: 7,617,930 km2; water surface area: 68,920 km2; note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island.
Comparative area: slightly less than the combined area of all US states except Hawaii and Alaska.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 25,760 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or to the outer limits of the continent; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: mostly arid to semi-arid; temperate in south and east, tropical in north.
Relief: mostly low plateaus and deserts; fertile plain in the southeast.
Maximum and minimum heights: the lowest point of Lake Eyre -15 m; the highest point Mount Kosciuszko 2229 m.
Natural resources: bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, oil.
Land use: arable land: 6%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 54%; forests and plantations: 19%; others: 21% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 21,070 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: cyclones along the coast; severe droughts.
Current environmental issues: soil erosion from overgrowth of pastoralism, industrial development, urbanization and poor agricultural practices; soil salinization due to the use of low-quality water; desertification; land clearing for agricultural use, which threatens the natural habitat of many unique species of animals and plants; the increase in shipping along the northeast coast, in the area of the Great Barrier Reef, and the growth of the latter as a tourist attraction, which threatens the safety of this largest coral reef on the planet; limited natural fresh water resources.
International agreements on environmental protection: Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Antarctic seals, Conservation of marine life in Antarctica, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Desertification, Climate change, Endangered species, Environmental change, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Conservation of marine life, Prohibition nuclear testing, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Tropical timber 1983, Tropical timber 1994, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”: Australia is the smallest of the continents, but it is the sixth largest country in the world; the population is concentrated along the east and southeast coasts; in summer, the west coast has a constant tropical sea breeze known as the Doctor.
Population: 19,357,594 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 20.64% (male 2,045,892; female 1,948,949); 15 to 64 years old: 66.86% (male 6,538,096; female 6,405,014); over 65: 12.5% (male 1,059,107; female 1,360,536) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.99% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 12.86 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 7.18 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 4.19 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.02 male/female; over 65: 0.78 male/female; for the general population: 0.99 male/female. (2001 est.).
Child mortality: 4.97 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 79.87 years; men: 77.02 years; women: 82.87 years (2001 est.);
General birth rate: 1.77 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.15% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 14,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 100 (1999 est.).
Nationality: Noun: Australian; Adjective: Australian.
Ethnic groups: White Australians 92%, Asians 7%, Aboriginal and other 1%.
Believers: Anglicans 26.1%, Catholics 26%, followers of other Christian denominations 24.3%, non-Christians 11%.
Language(s): English, local languages.
Literacy: Definition: Persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 100%; men: 100%; women: 100% (1980 est.). State Name
Common long form: Commonwealth of Australia;
Common short form: Australia.
Government: A democratic, federal state that recognizes the British monarch as sovereign.
Administrative divisions: 6 states and 2 territories* Australian Capital Territory*, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Tasmania, South Australia.
Dependencies: Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Heard Islands and McDonald Island.
Independence: from January 1, 1901 (formerly – the federation of the colonies of Great Britain).
National holiday: Australia Day, 26 January (1788).
Constitution: adopted July 9, 1900, effective January 1, 1901
Legal system: based on English common law; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal and mandatory.
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Peter HOLLINGSWORTH (since 29 June 2001);
head of government: Prime Minister John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996) Deputy Prime Minister John ANDERSON (from when – not known);
Government: the cabinet is formed from members of the federal parliament by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister; elections are not held; hereditary monarchy; the governor general is appointed by the monarch; based on the results of parliamentary elections, the governor general appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as prime minister for a three-year term; note government coalition Liberal Party and National Party.
Legislature: bicameral parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 from each of the six states and 2 from each of the two territories; every three years, half of the members are elected by popular vote for a six-year term) and the House of Representatives (148 seats; members of the House are elected by popular vote for a three-year term based on proportional representation; no state may have less than five representatives); elections to the Senate were last held on 3 October 1998 (next to be held in October 2001); to the House of Representatives were last held on 3 October 1998 (next to be held in October 2001); election results Senate distribution of votes between parties – no data; distribution of seats among parties – coalition of the Liberal Party and the National Party 35, Australian Labor Party 29, Australian Democratic Party 9, Green Party 1, United Country Party 1, Independents 1; House of Representatives distribution of votes between parties – no data; seat distribution among parties – coalition of the Liberal Party and the National Party 80, Australian Labor Party 67, independents 1.
Judiciary: The High Court, the President of the Court and six judges are appointed by the Governor General.
Political parties and leaders: Australian Democratic Party (Meg LEES); Australian Labor Party (Kim BEAZLEY); Green Party (Bob BROWN); Liberal Party (John Winston HOWARD); National Party (John ANDERSON); One Nation Party (Pauline HANSON).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Australian Democratic Labor Party (an anti-Communist group spun out of the Labor Party); Movement for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament (a group that emerged from the Party for Nuclear Disarmament).
Participation in international organizations: ANZUS, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMEE, UNTAET, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission Ambassador Michael THAWLEY; office 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036; phone  (202) 797-3000; fax  (202) 797-3168; Consulates General Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission Ambassador Edward GNEM Jr. (Edward W. GNEHM, Jr.); embassy Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600; postal address ARO AR 96549; telephone;  (6) 6214-5600; fax  (6) 6214-5970; consulates general Sydney; Consulates of Perth and Melbourne.
Description of the flag: the color is blue, in the upper quarter adjacent to the flagpole there is the flag of Great Britain, and in the lower quarter there is a large seven-pointed star; in the rest – the image of the constellation of the Southern Cross in white with one small five-pointed star and four larger seven-pointed stars.