Facts about Australia – a Summary

Are you doing schoolwork about Australia or just want to know the most significant facts about the country before going there? Here is a summary of the Australian society at a glance.

Australian facts in summary

  • Capital: Canberra
  • Area: 7.69 million km², with approximately 3,700 km from north to south and 4,000 km from east to west.
  • Population: 23.1 million (2018).
  • Top level domain: .au. Note that subdomains are being used under .au, for example; .com.au for companies, .org.au for organisations and associations, .edu.au for schools and .gov.au for different authorities.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): 10%.
  • National emergency number: 000. An operator will transfer you to ambulance, police or fire brigade.
  • Immigration: Approximately 0.01 immigrants per capita and year.
  • Gini-Index: 0.352
  • Birth-rate: 1.83 children per woman.
  • Population density: 3.1 people per square kilometre.
  • Population growth: Approximately 1.4% per annum.
  • Agricultural area: 51% (2016-17).
  • Coastal length: 25,760 km.
  • Language: English (73% of households), Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%) Italian (1.2%) and Greek, Hindi and Punjabi, Spanish and Dutch as common minority languages according to census 2016. Aboriginal languages spoken by less than 1% of households.
  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD. In October 2018 the exchange rate was 0.71 USD and 0.62 EUR.
  • Approximate GDP: Australia has the world’s 13th largest economy with a GDP of around 1,400 billion US Dollar (2017).
  • Workforce: 12.5 million people (2014).
  • Unemployment rate: Approximately 5.4% (2017).
  • Inflation: 2.1% (October 2018).
  • Tax pressure: 28.22% of GDP.
  • National Day: Australia Day on the 26 of January.
  • Households with internet access: 88% (2018).
  • Number of mobile phone users: Around 78% (2018).
  • Vehicles: 19.2 million motor vehicles where registered in Australia in January 2018.
  • Number of foreign visitors per year: 9.1 million (2017-18).
  • Number of foreign students in the country: Approximately 800,000 (2017).
  • Highest and lowest point: Mount Kosciuszko: 2,228 m, and Lake Eyre: -15 m below sea level.
  • States and territories and their capitals with approximate population (data from population census 2018):
    – Australian Capital Territory (0.4 million) – Canberra.
    – New South Wales (7.7 million) – Sydney (5.4 million)
    – Victoria (6.2 million) – Melbourne (4 million)
    – Queensland (4.9 million) – Brisbane (2.4 million)
    – South Australia (1.7 million) – Adelaide (1.4 million)
    – Northern Territory (0.25 million) – Darwin (148 thousand)
    – Western Australia (2.6 million) – Perth (2.3 million)
    – Tasmania (0.52 million) – Hobart (220 thousand)
  • The territories work in much the same way as the states with the major difference that the federal Parliament can override a Territory’s legislation in more areas compared to a state’s.
  • Important rivers: Murray, Darling.
  • Life expectancy: 82.45 years (2015).
  • Median age: 37.4 years (2015).
  • Ethnic background: British Ancestry 67.4%, Irish 8.7%, Italian 3.8%, German 3.7%, Chinese 3.6%, Aboriginal and domestic 3%, Greek 1.6%, Dutch 1.2% and remaining 5.3% come mostly from Europe and Asia.
  • Religions: Christianity (52.1% of which the majority consist of 22.6% Catholic and 13.3% Anglican), Islam (2.6%), Buddhism (2.4%), Hinduism (1.9%). A total of 30.1% consider themselves to not belong to any religion and 9.1% of households during census 2016 chose not to provide answers or gave unclear answers.
  • Reading comprehension: 99% of total population.
  • Time zones: Australia has three time zones that runs as vertical bands across the continent. Not all states implement daylight savings.
  • Natural resources: Australia has large reserves of minerals such as coal, iron ore, bauxite (for aluminium), copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, natural gas and oil. Australia account for 29% of the world’s total coal exports.
  • Occurring natural disasters: Cyclones along the coasts of the north, prolonged drought, flooding and forest fires.
  • Environmental problems:
    – Erosion, increased water scarcity and depletion of biotopes due to an increasingly widespread agriculture and livestock farming, industrial exploitation and housing.
    – The Great Barrier Reef (the world’s largest coral reef) is threatened by ocean temperatures rising (due to the greenhouse effect) as well as increased tourism and shipping in the area.
    – Marine animals suffer or dies because of pollutions like plastic (several hundred thousand tonnes of plastic is estimated to have been dumped in the world’s oceans), oil spills, overfishing and exploitation.
    – Indigenous species are threatened for several reasons; Loss of habitat (the environment and minimum size of area they require to maintain a sustainable lifecycle), introduction of non-indigenous species (displace indigenous species and spreads new diseases the existing species can’t overcome), unbalanced ecosystems (when a species state changes in a way that affects other species negatively), global warming (change of critical temperatures and all its possible side effects) and epidemics are some to mention.

Time zones and time difference Australia versus the world

To find out what the time is in for example Sydney right now you can use a site like (timeanddate.com/worldclock/australia/sydney).

Australia has three time zones that runs as vertical bands across the continent:

  • Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) is used in West Australia.
  • Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) is used by the central states South Australia and Northern Territory.
  • Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) is used by the east states Victoria, New South Wales, Capital Territory and Queensland.

The time of the different zones is calculated by adding + 8, + 9.5 and + 10 hours to UTC (UK winter) time. The south-eastern states use daylight savings (known as Daylight Savings Time, DST) which leads to the country having 5 different time zones in the summer. QLD, WA and NT do not use daylight savings time.

  • South Australia during summer adopts to Australian Central Daylight Time (CDT or ACDT), which is one hour ahead of ACST, that is UCT + 10.5.
  • VIC, NSW And ACT during summer adopts to Australian Eastern Daylight Time (EDT or AEDT), that is one hour ahead of AEST, therefore UCT+11.

These states switch between summer and winter time on the first Sunday of October and the first Sunday in April. Note that EU countries do not change from winter- to summertime on these dates.