Population: 21.9 million. About 90 per cent of the population are urban dwellers and live mostly in coastal cities.
Political structure: A federation of six states and two territories. Australia is a member of the Commonwealth.
Federal capital: Canberra (also capital of the Australian Capital Territory). State capitals: Sydney (New South Wales), Melbourne (Victoria), Brisbane (Queensland), Perth (Western Australia), Hobart (Tasmania), Darwin (Northern Territory.)
Economy: Australia has a diversified economy with its major exports being coal, iron ore, services, gold and petroleum. Wheat and wool exports are also important but agricultural production has been affected by drought in the past few years. Education services have become a major earner in recent years as the country has promoted its universities and colleges to students in Asia and some students have graduated and gained residency in Australia.
Australia’s largest trading partners are Japan, China, the United States, New Zealand and Korea. Successive governments have supported international trade liberalization policies and the economy is comparatively open to foreign investment.
Updated September, 2009