Australia is the sixth largest country in the world with a total surface area of 2,969,907 square miles. It is also the largest Oceanian country. The nation comprises of mainland Australia (commonly known as the Continent of Australia), the island state of Tasmania, and about 8,221 smaller islands. The capital city of the country is Canberra, while Sydney is the largest city. As of 2017, the population of Australia was estimated at 24,713,400 making it the 51st most populated country in the world. Most of the inhabitants live in urban areas, and immigrants account for about 26% of Australia’s population.
Australia sits on the Indo-Australian plate. Surrounding it are the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Mainland Australia has 21,262 miles of coastline. The country has a wide range of landscapes such as mountain ranges, deserts, and tropical rainforests. The country’s land is mostly flat, and its soils are the least fertile in the world. Most parts of Australia experience arid and semi-arid climates and the country receives less than 500 mm of rainfall annually. It is the driest occupied continent. Unique landforms in the state include Mount Augustus, the world’s biggest monolith, and the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest coral reef on the planet.
Flora and Fauna
Australia is very biodiverse. For example, there are about 250,000 fungi species in the country. Much of its flora and fauna is unique, including 84% of its mammal population, 45% of bird species, and approximately 85% of flowering plants. It also has a large population of endemic in-shore fish species. More than 755 reptile species live Australia, and it is also home to many marsupials and monotremes. The vegetation of Australian forests mostly comprises eucalyptus trees in the less dry areas while wattles thrive in the drier regions. Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the only continent without indigenous feline species.
The Commonwealth of Australia, as the country is officially known, is divided into six states and two mainland territories which also function as states. Queen Elizabeth II is Australia’s head of state. Her representative at the national or federal level is the Governor-General of Australia. Governors represent the Queen at the state level. The Prime Minister of Australia heads the executive branch of Australia’s government. The country has a bicameral parliament with the Senate being the upper house and the House of Representatives the lower house. The highest judicial institution in the nation is the High Court of Australia.
Australia has a market economy. It is one of the wealthiest nations globally, and it is ranked second in the world by Human Development Index (HDI). The 2017 nominal GDP estimate for the country was $1.39 trillion, ranking it 13th in the world. 70% of the country’s revenues come from the service sector which includes tourism, banking, and education. It also earns a lot of income from the export of agricultural products, mainly wool, wheat, and wine. Besides agrarian commodities, Australia exports coal, liquefied natural gas, and minerals like gold and iron ore. Countries that import from Australia include China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the US.