Australia

Australia - the Birthplace of Ugg Boots

Australia has many attractions, but the natural beauty is probably the biggest one. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, sun baked desserts, beautiful mountains and green valleys make it attractive and loved by the Australian people, as well as foreign visitors. The unique mix of laid-back lifestyle, love of food, wine and art, passion for outdoors and sport are all characteristics admired by the world.

History

The culture of the Australian original inhabitants known as the Aborigines dates all the way back into the last ice age. According to archeological research, first people have traveled to Australia from Indonesia over 70 thousand years ago. Europeans started to make their way to Australia in the 16th century. Spanish, Dutch and British explorers have sailed across it’s shores. It was the captain James Cook, who claimed the continent for Britain in 1770. Large number of migrants started to flow into the country after 1850, then gold was discovered. They pushed the aborigines out of their lands and took it for agriculture or mining.

In 1901, the colonies were transformed into a federation and Australia became a nation. The country was hit by the depression in the 30s, especially when wheat and wool prices plunged. Australians battled in Europe along the British in World War II, but it was the Pearl Harbor bombing, when the security of Australia became higher priority.

After the WWII, a flood of immigrants from Europe came to the country, many of them non-British. This era was also a huge economical boom, due to the demand of raw materials for post-war reconstruction.

Australians sent their troops to Korea, as well as Vietnam. Conscription for military led to civil unrest and a rise of Australian Labor Party, which withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam, lowered education fees and established universal and free healthcare system.

Geography

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, China, USA and Brazil. It is the driest and flattest continent, but it’s topography is very dramatic. You can find plains and rainforest in the north, deserts in the central area, mountains and agricultural land in the east, and coral reefs in the north-east. Australia’s coastline is extremely long. It would take you 24 days to drive along in 60km/hour speed.
In the north-eastern part of Australia lies Queensland. It’s climate ranges from the tropics in the north, to more temperate climate in the south. Here is also the most northern point of the continent – Cape York.

Over 20% of the land is desert, and most of it is not suitable for settlement. Temperature reaches highest values in Queensland, and lowest in Tasmania. There is no volcanic activity on this continent.

Economy

Australia has capitalist economy of western style, comparable with the West European economies in GDP per capita.

  • Industries: oil, minerals, gold, coal, cereals, wool , meat, tourism
  • Trading Partners: Japan, South Korea, ASEAN countries, New Zealand, China, USA, European Union
  • GDP: $571.4 billion (2003)
  • GDP growth rate: 3%
  • Inflation: 2%
  • Unemployment Rate: 6%
  • Agriculture Products: barley, wheat, fruits, sugarcane, sheep, cattle, poultry
  • Industry: mining, food processing, industrial and transportation equipment, steel, chemicals
  • Export: gold, coal, wool, meat, iron ore, alumina, machinery and transport equipment, wheat

Culture

Australia is a western democracy with a population of almost 20 million. Australians are very urban nation, with 70% of people living in cities. Most of the cities are situated on the east coast and south-east part of the continent. Over 90% of Australians are Caucasians with European origin, but there is a large number of immigrants from Asia, and other parts of the world. The cities are very multicultural, with many people coming from non-English speaking countries. The official language is English, with some slang and colloquial expressions being used.

Australia’s culture is becoming popular all over the world. Many actors are taking lead roles in Hollywood, musicians bring new sounds to Europe and America. Amongst most famous are Nick Cave, INXS, ACDC, The Bee Gees and Midnight Oil. The Aussie art is being displayed in galleries of New York and London. There is abundance of acclaimed Australian fiction, from the winner of Nobel price - Patrick White, to winners of Booker Prize homas Keneally and Peter Carey.

Government

  • Country Name: Commonwealth of Australia
  • Nation Capital: Canberra
  • Administrative: 6 states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania) and 2 territories (Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory)
  • National Holiday: Australia Day, 26 January
  • Dependant Areas: Christmas Island , Cartier and Ashmore Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Cocos Islands, Norfolk Island, McDonald Islands and Heard Island