Australia the Country • Australia is officially named the Commonwealth of Australia. • Australia, the country, is made up of the continent mainland, the island Tasmania, and numerous other islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. • Neighboring countries include Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and New Zealand.
Australia’s Government • It remains a part of the Commonwealth realm. • It has a democratic government (constitutional monarchy). • Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch. • Julia Gillardis the prime minister.
Australia’s People • It is a multicultural country. • Australia is a country of immigrants. • 90% of Australians are of British or Irish descent (mostly convict). • Since the abolishment of the White Australia policy of the 1970s, immigration from Asia and elsewhere has been encouraged. • As a result, Australia’s demography, culture, and self-image have been transformed. • Also, a large number of Australians live outside their home country.
Australia’s Aborigines • Aborigines suffer from higher rates of imprisonment and unemployment. • Aborigines suffer from lower levels of education. • Life expectancies for males and females is 17 years lower than those on non-indigenous Australians.
Australia and the World • Australia’s foreign relations are driven by a close relationship with the United States, its status as a British commonwealth, and its proximity to Asia. • It is a founding member of the United Nations
Australia’s Culture • Language • English is the national language. • It is spoken by 80% of the country’s population. • Religion • Australia has no state religion. • 64% of Australians list Christianity as their religion (26% of that are Roman Catholic). • Surveys have found Australia to be one of the least devout nations in the developed world. • Education • The adult literacy rate is 99%. • One result of the high literacy is that Australia enjoys one of the highest standards of living! • Australia’s education is ranked 8th in the world (the United States is 9th).
Australia’s Culture • Sports • 23.5% of Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate in organized sports. • Australia has strong international teams in cricket, field hockey, rugby, cycling, rowing, sailing, and swimming. • Famous Australian swimmers include Dawn Frasier and Ian Thorpe. • Australia has participated in every summer Olympic Games since 1896. • It hosted the 1856 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. • It hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. • It has ranked in the top 6 medal-takers since 2000.