Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, 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. Its population of nearly 26 million is highly urbanized and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. Indigenous Australians inhabited the continent for about 65,000 years prior to the first arrival of Dutch explorers in the early 17th century, who named it New Holland. In 1770, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the time of an 1850s gold rush, most of the continent had been explored by European settlers and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils. It has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometers (2,941,300 square mi). A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with deserts in the center, tropical rainforests in the north-east, and mountain ranges in the south-east. Australia generates its income from various sources, including mining-related exports, telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, and international education. Australia is a developed country, with the world's thirteenth-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income. It is considered a regional power and has the world's thirteenth-highest military expenditure. Immigrants account for 30% of the population, the highest proportion in any country with a population over 10 million. The country ranks highly in measures of health, education, economic freedom, and civil liberties. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum, and the ASEAN Plus Six.
Economy of Australia
A wealthy country, Australia has a market economy, a high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, Australia ranked second in the world after Switzerland from 2013 until 2018. In 2018, Australia overtook Switzerland and became the country with the highest average wealth. Australia's poverty rate is 13.6%. It was identified by the Credit Suisse Research Institute as the nation with the highest median wealth in the world and the second-highest average wealth per adult in 2013.
The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. With the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange became the ninth largest in the world.
Ranked fifth in the Index of Economic Freedom (2017), Australia is the world's 13th largest economy and has the tenth highest per capita GDP (nominal) at US$55,692. The country was ranked third in the United Nations 2017 Human Development Index. Melbourne reached top spot for the fourth year in a row on The Economist's 2014 list of the world's most liveable cities, followed by Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth in the fifth, seventh, and ninth places respectively. Total government debt in Australia is about A$190 billion—20% of GDP in 2010. Australia has among the highest house prices and some of the highest household debt levels in the world.
An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the 21st century, due to rising commodity prices. Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years. Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6% for over 15 years, in comparison to the OECD annual average of 2.5%.
Australia was the only advanced economy not to experience a recession due to the global financial downturn in 2008–2009. However, the economies of six of Australia's major trading partners have been in recession, which in turn has affected Australia, significantly hampering its economic growth in recent years. From 2012 to early 2013, Australia's national economy grew, but some non-mining states and Australia's non-mining economy experienced a recession.
The Hawke Government floated the Australian dollar in 1983 and partially deregulated the financial system. The Howard Government followed with a partial deregulation of the labour market and the further privatization of state-owned businesses, most notably in the telecommunications industry. The indirect tax system was substantially changed in July 2000 with the introduction of a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST). In Australia's tax system, personal and company income tax are the main sources of government revenue.
As of September 2018, there were 12,640,800 people employed (either full- or part-time), with an unemployment rate of 5.2%. Data released in mid-November 2013 showed that the number of welfare recipients had grown by 55%. In 2007 228,621 Newstart unemployment allowance recipients were registered, a total that increased to 646,414 in March 2013. According to the Graduate Careers Survey, full-time employment for newly qualified professionals from various occupations has declined since 2011 but it increases for graduates three years after graduation.
As of 2020 interest rates in Australia were set at a record low of 0.1%, targeting an inflation rate of 2 to 3%. The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP.Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly wheat and wool, minerals such as iron-ore and gold, and energy in the forms of liquified natural gas and coal. Although agriculture and natural resources account for only 3% and 5% of GDP respectively, they contribute substantially to export performance. Australia's largest export markets are Japan, China, the United States, South Korea, and New Zealand. Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, and the wine industry contributes A$5.5 billion per year to the nation's economy.
Access to biocapacity in Australia is much higher than world average. In 2016, Australia had 12.3 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, much more than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 Australia used 6.6 global hectares of biocapacity per person – their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use half as much biocapacity as Australia contains. As a result, Australia is running a biocapacity reserve.
In 2020 ACOSS released a new report revealing that poverty is growing in Australia, with an estimated 3.2 million people, or 13.6% of the population, living below the internationally accepted poverty line of 50% of a country's median income. It also estimated that there are 774,000 (17.7%) children under the age of 15 that are in poverty.
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A popular tourist destination, Brisbaneis a lively, dynamic place that is bathed in beautiful sunshine year-round. It has a population of about 2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. Located in the Sunshine State, many visitors stop by on their way to the fantastic resorts and beaches that lie to its north and south.
Set alongside the Brisbane River, the city’s fantastic climate means that outdoor activities are very popular here; you can take your pick from a huge catalog, with biking, climbing, and hiking featuring prominently. A fun and friendly city, Brisbane’s vibrant music scene has made it one of the music capitals of the world and there are lots of venues in town where you can enjoy a great show. With loads of brilliant restaurants and bars for you to choose from, Brisbane is not to be missed.