Australia in brief

The Australian continent is a unique land, full of contrasts. It is the earth's biggest island and the sixth-biggest country in the world in land area. Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent.

Today, Australia is a stable, democratic, culturally diverse nation with a skilled workforce and a strong, competitive economy.

Australia in brief provides an authoritative overview of Australia's history, the land, its people and their way of life. It also looks at Australia's economic, scientific and cultural achievements and its foreign, trade and defence policies.

Foreground: woman holding up a mobile device displaying information about Mattys Gerber's portrait of Cadel Evans, while standing in front of the actual painting. Background: other gallery visitors viewing photographic portraits of prominent Australians.
Visitors to the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, which opened to the public on 4 December 2008 with a continuing series of vibrant exhibitions, lectures, education programs and events. Its purpose is to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people – their identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity – through portraiture. The painting being viewed is a portrait of champion cyclist Cadel Evans by Matthys Gerber, 2008. Photo: Mark Mohell. Artwork: Brett Wiencke.

Australia: brief facts

Capital Canberra
Surface area 7,692,024 sq. kms (2,969,907 sq. miles)
Population 23 million (2013)
Main language English
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
GDP per capita A$65,305 (2013)
Workforce 11.5 million (2012)
Unemployment rate 5.1 per cent (2012)
Inflation rate 1.6 per cent (2012)
Value of exports of goods and services A$313,255,000,000 (2011)
Australia's main import sources China, United States, Japan, Singapore,
Germany (2011)
Australia's main export destinations China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India,
United States (2011)
National day Australia Day: 26 January
Time Eastern: GMT+10hrs, Central: GMT+9.5hrs,
Western: GMT+8hrs
Households with internet access 79 per cent (2010–11)
Overseas visitors 5,875,000 (2011)
International students 426,748 (2011)
Highest point above sea level Mount Kosciuszko: 2,228 metres (7,309 feet)
Lowest point below sea level Lake Eyre: 15 metres below (49 feet)
Topographic map of Australian continent showing state and territory borders, capital cities, regional centres, deserts, river systems and surrounding seas.
A map of the Australian continent and surrounding seas. Map produced by Sinclair Knight Merz.

Imprint and copyright information

This is the 49th edition of Australia in brief, revised and updated in July 2012.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is grateful for assistance from other government departments and agencies, and various private organisations who have licensed the use of photos and the map.

Money values are given in Australian dollars. Weights and measures are metric and imperial.

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and where otherwise noted, such as copyrighted images, this booklet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence

The booklet should be attributed as Australia in brief, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

ISBN 978-1-74322-040-5
ISSN 0815-9939

ISSN 2201-2362 (online)

Use of the Coat of Arms

The terms under which the Coat of Arms can be used are detailed on the 'It's an Honour' website

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the booklet are welcome at:

Assistant Secretary
Public Diplomacy Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221 Australia
Telephone +61 2 6261 1111

Inquiries regarding the licensing of images should be directed to the individual copyright holders.