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Commonwealth of Australia

Federation
Commonwealth realm
Flag of Australia Coat of Arms of Australia
Anthem
Advance Australia Fair
Map of Australia
CapitalCanberra
Government Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy
Monarch
- From 1952Elizabeth II
Governor-General
- From 2008Quentin Bryce
Prime Minister
- From 2010Julia Gillard
Legislature Parliament
- Upper houseSenate
- Lower houseHouse of Representatives
History
January 1, 1901Constitution
December 11, 1931Statute of Westminster
October 9, 1942Statute of Westminster Adoption Act
March 3, 1986Australia Act
Commonwealth accessionDecember 11, 1931
Area7,617,930 km²
Population
- 201122,576,835
 Density2.9/km²
GDP2011 (PPP)
- TotalUS$ 896.1 billion
- Per capitaUS$ 39,692
CurrencyAustralian dollar
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The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional monarchy in Oceania.


Background

Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include climate-change issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and more frequent droughts, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.[1]

Economy

Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas project, will significantly expand the resources sector. Australia also has a large services sector and is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Key tenets of Australia's trade policy include support for open trade and the successful culmination of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, particularly for agriculture and services. The Australian economy grew for 17 consecutive years before the global financial crisis. Subsequently, the Rudd government introduced a fiscal stimulus package worth over US$50 billion to offset the effect of the slowing world economy, while the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to historic lows. These policies - and continued demand for commodities, especially from China - helped the Australian economy rebound after just one quarter of negative growth. The economy grew by 1.2% during 2009 - the best performance in the OECD. Unemployment, originally expected to reach 8-10%, peaked at 5.7% in late 2009 and fell to 5.1% in 2010. As a result of an improved economy, the budget deficit is expected to peak below 4.2% of GDP and the government could return to budget surpluses as early as 2015. Australia was one of the first advanced economies to raise interest rates, with seven rate hikes between October 2009 and November 2010. The GILLARD government is focused on raising Australia's economic productivity to ensure the sustainability of growth, and continues to manage the symbiotic, but sometimes tense, economic relationship with China. Australia is engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with China, Japan, and Korea.[2]

Monarch

  • Elizabeth II () (February 6, 1952 - )

Governor-General

  • Quentin Bryce () (September 5, 2008 - )

Prime Minister

  • Julia Gillard () (June 24, 2010 - )

Nation

Australian Polities

Neighbouring Nations

References

  1. The CIA World Factbook: Introduction - Background
  2. The CIA World Factbook: Economy - Overview

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