Australia

 

Australia (from the Latin. Austrālis - "southern"), the official form is the Australian Union or the Commonwealth of Australia - a state in the Southern Hemisphere that occupies the continent of the same name, the island of Tasmania and several other islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans; It is the sixth largest country in the world. East Timor, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are located north of the Australian Union, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands to the northeast, and New Zealand to the southeast. The shortest distance between the main island of Papua New Guinea and the mainland of the Australian Union is only 145 km, and the distance from the Australian island of Boigu to Papua New Guinea is only 5 km. The population at December 31, 2018 was estimated at 25,180,200 people, most of whom live in cities on the east coast.

Australia is one of the developed countries, being the thirteenth largest economy in the world, and has the sixth place in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Australia's military spending is the twelfth largest in the world. With the second largest human development index, Australia ranks high in many areas, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the G20, OECD, WTO, APEC, UN, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS and the Pacific Islands Forum.

 

Name etymology

 The term "Australia" comes from lat. austrālis ("southern"). In colloquial speech of Australians, the word Oz is used to refer to Australia. The word Aussie is used to refer to the adjective "Australian" by Australians.

Legends about the Unknown Southern Land (Latin Terra Australis Incognita) - “unknown land in the south” - date back to the times of the Roman Empire and were a common occurrence in medieval geography, despite the fact that they were not based on any knowledge about the continent itself.

The earliest documented record of the use of the word “Australia” in English was written in 1625, “Information about Australia del Espiritu Santo, written by Master Hulklight” (English A note of Australia del Espíritu Santo, written by Master Hakluyt) and published by Samuel Pourchas at Hakluytus Posthumus, where the Spanish name Australia del Espiritu Santo (Spanish: Australia del Espíritu Santo), given to an island in the New Hebrides archipelago, was distorted to “Australia”. The adjective "Australische" was also used by Dutch officials in Batavia (modern Jakarta) to refer to all of the southern lands newly discovered since 1638. The word "Australia" was used in the English-translated book of the French utopian writer Gabriel de Fouagni "The Adventures of Jacques Sader, his journey and discovery of the Astral Earth" (French Les Aventures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Découverte et le Voyage de la Terre Australe; 1676). For the entire South Pacific, this term is used by Alexander Dalrymple, a Scottish geographer, in his book An Historical Collection of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean; 1771; . At the end of the 18th century, the term was used by botanists George Shaw and James Edward Smith to refer to the Australian continent in their book Zoology and Botany of New Holland (English Zoology and Botany of New Holland; 1793), as well as on a 1799 map belonging to James Wilson .

 

The name "Australia" became popular after the publication in 1814 of "Travel in Terra Australis" by Captain Matthew Flinders, who is the first person to circumnavigate the Australian continent. In preparing it, Flinders convinced his patron, Joseph Banks, to use the term Terra Australis, as it was better known to the public. Flinders did this by stating:

"Had I permitted myself any innovation on the original term, it would have been to convert it to Australia; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth."

This is the only use of the word "Australia" in the text; but in Appendix III of Robert Brown's General remarks, geographical and systematic, on the botany of Terra Australis (1814), the adjective "Australian" is used throughout and this book is the first documented use of the word. Despite popular misconception, the book did not play a major role in the adoption of "Australia" for the name of the continent - this name was adopted within the next ten years after the book's release. Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales, used the title in official letters to England, and on December 12, 1817 recommended that the British Empire's Colonial Office officially adopt it. In 1824, the British Admiralty finally approved this name for the continent.

 

History

Australia before contact with Europeans (before 1606)
The ancestors of the Australian aborigines appeared in Australia 40-60 thousand years ago (according to other sources - about 70 thousand years ago). People arrived in Australia by sea at a time when New Guinea and Tasmania were part of the continent, making them the earliest sea travelers in the world. The settlement of the continent by people began 42-48 thousand years ago.

The earliest human remains have been found at Lake Mungo, a dry lake in southeastern New South Wales. These remains are one of the oldest examples of cremation found on Earth, indicating the early existence of religious rituals among Australian Aborigines.

Aboriginal art is considered to be the world's oldest continuing art tradition. It is estimated to be 30,000 years old and can be found throughout Australia (particularly Uluru and Kakadu National Park). In terms of age and abundance of drawings, rock art in Australia is comparable to the caves of Lascaux and Altamira in Europe.

In the period 10-12 thousand years BC, Tasmania is isolated from the mainland, and some stone technologies could not reach the Tasmanian natives (for example, the use of a boomerang). Volcanic eruptions frequently occurred in southeastern Australia during the earliest period of Australian history. In southeastern Australia, on Lake Condah in Victoria, semi-permanent settlements with large food supplies have been found. For centuries, the Makassars traded with the Aborigines of Australia, in particular the Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land.

Discovery of Australia by navigators (1606-1788)
Some authors have tried to prove that Europeans visited Australia as early as the 16th century. Kenneth McIntyre[en] and other historians have claimed that the Portuguese secretly discovered Australia in the 1620s. The presence on the maps of Dieppe of the inscription "Jave-La-Grand" (French Jave La Grande) was often perceived by them as proof of the "Portuguese discovery". However, the maps of Dieppe reflect the incomplete state of geographical knowledge of that era, both factual and theoretical. While theories of pre-17th-century European visits continue to attract much interest in Australia and elsewhere, they are generally considered controversial and lack evidence.

The discovery of Australia took place in 1606, when Willem Janszon landed on the coast of Australia on the ship Dyfken, naming it New Holland and declaring it the possession of the Netherlands (it was never mastered by the Dutch). In the same year, the Spanish expedition of Pedro Fernandez Quiroz landed on the New Hebrides and, believing that this was the southern continent, called it the Southern Land of the Holy Spirit (Spanish: Austrialis del Espiritu Santo). Later that year, Quiros' deputy Luis Vaez de Torres sailed through the Torres Strait and may have seen the northern coast of Australia.

In 1642, the Dutchman Abel Tasman made a journey during which he discovered Van Diemen's Land (later called Tasmania) and New Zealand, which made a significant contribution to the exploration of Australia. He sailed past the east coast of Australia to the south coast of New Guinea in 1644 on his second voyage. He skipped the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia and continued sailing west along the Australian coast, eventually charting the west coast of Australia.

By the 50s of the XVII century, thanks to the Dutch navigators, the outlines of Australia were quite clearly drawn on the maps.

With the exception of Dutch exploration on the west coast, Australia remained unexplored until the first voyage of James Cook. Initially, the idea to establish a colony for exiled convicts in the Southern Ocean or Terra Australis was proposed by John Callander.

In 1769, Lieutenant James Cook, commanding the HMS Endeavor, traveled to Tahiti to see the transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun. Cook also carried out secret Admiralty instructions to search for the Southern Continent.

There is reason to imagine that a continent, or land of great extent, may be found to the southward of the track of former navigators.

 

On April 19, 1770, the crew of the ship Endeavor sighted the east coast of Australia and landed ten days later in Botany Bay. Cook explored the east coast, and then, together with the ship's naturalist Joseph Banks, reported a favorable situation for establishing a colony in Botany Bay.

British colonization (1788-1901)
The first British colony on the continent, New South Wales, was founded on January 26, 1788, when Arthur Phillip brought the First Fleet to Port Jackson. This day later became a national holiday - the day of Australia. Van Diemen's Land (present-day Tasmania) was settled in 1803 and received the status of a separate colony in 1825. The United Kingdom formally claimed the western part of Australia as its own in 1828, thus beginning to own the entire continent.

Over time, separate colonies were formed from parts of New South Wales: South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859. The Northern Territory was founded in 1911 by carving out parts of South Australia. South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia were founded as so-called "free colonies", that is, they never brought prisoners there, but the last two colonies soon began to import prisoners too. The reluctance of the inhabitants of New South Wales to accept convicts led to the end of the importation of prisoners to this colony; the last ship with convicts arrived in 1848 (however, the last ship with prisoners arrived in Australia on January 10, 1868, in the state of Western Australia).

The indigenous population, which ranged from 750,000 to 1,000,000 at the start of European settlement in Australia, declined sharply in the 150 years after settlement began, largely due to infectious diseases brought by whites. The author of several books on Aboriginal rights and history, Bain Atwood, believes that the Stolen Generations program may have contributed to the decline in the Australian Aboriginal population. This interpretation of Aboriginal history is disputed by many conservatives, such as former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and is considered by them to be exaggerated or fabricated for political or ideological reasons. The Stolen Generations debate in Australia has been called the "Historic Wars". The federal government gained the right to make laws in relation to the natives after a referendum in 1967. Aboriginal land rights were not recognized until 1992, when the High Court in Mabo v. Queensland (2) overturned Australia's understanding of terra nullius ("no man's land") prior to European settlement.

In the early 1850s, Australia experienced a gold rush. Later, in 1854, there was the Eureka Rebellion against the collection of money for mining licenses, which was one of the first expressions of civil disobedience. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies were individually given responsible government, managing most of the affairs of the colony, while remaining part of the British Empire. The British Empire's Colonial Office in London retained its control over certain matters, notably foreign affairs, defense and international shipping.

Australian Union (1901 - present)
On January 1, 1901, the Australian colonies agreed to form a federation, the Commonwealth of Australia (also known as the Commonwealth of Australia). The preparation of this move took about ten years of negotiations, consultations, and votes in the colonial parliaments. In 1907, the young nation received the status of a dominion of the British Empire. In 1911, a territory was allocated from the lands of the state of New South Wales for the construction of the future capital - Canberra. From the day the federation was founded until the completion of the first government buildings in Canberra (1901-1927), Melbourne performed the functions of the capital. In 1911, the Northern Territory was formed from the northern territories of South Australia. In 1914, Australia voluntarily took part in the First World War on the side of the British Empire. During the war, Australians took part in many major battles on the Western Front. Of the approximately 416,000 Australians who took part in the war, about 60,000 were killed and 152,000 were wounded. Many Australians regard the defeat of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Galipoli as the birth of the nation, its first major military action. The Battle of Kokoda in 1942 is considered to be a similar event in terms of influence.

 

In accordance with the Statute of Westminster, the only constitutional link between Australia and Great Britain remained a common head of state - the British monarch. Australia adopted it in 1942, but the adoption date was officially set as 1939 in order to validate legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during World War II. The shock of Britain's defeat in Asia in 1942 and the threat of a Japanese invasion brought Australia and the United States closer together. Since 1951, under the terms of the ANZUS Treaty, Australia has become a formal military ally of the United States.

After World War II, immigration from Europe began to be encouraged in Australia. Since the 1970s, after the abolition of the White Australia policy, the level of immigration from Asia has increased. As a result, Australian demographics, culture and self-esteem of Australians (the assessment of the nation as a whole) have changed. In 1986, the Australia Act was passed, which abolished the supremacy of the British Parliament over the parliaments of the individual Australian states and the supremacy of the British court.

During the 1999 constitutional referendum, 55% of Australians rejected the project to make Australia a republic. From the election of Gough Whitlam in 1972 until the early 2000s, Australian foreign policy began to develop ties with other countries in the Pacific region, while maintaining close ties with Australia's traditional allies and trading partners.

 

Physical and geographical characteristics

The Commonwealth of Australia is a state in the Southern Hemisphere with an area of ​​7,692,024 km². Australia is the sixth largest state in the world after Russia, Canada, China, USA and Brazil, occupying about 5% of the Earth's land surface. It is also the largest state in terms of territory, located entirely in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes: mainland Australia (including the island of Tasmania) with an area of ​​7,659,861 km² and other coastal islands with an area of ​​32,163 km². Australia controls several external territories: the Cocos (Keeling) Islands with an area of ​​14 km², Christmas Island with an area of ​​135 km², the Ashmore and Cartier Islands with an area of ​​199 km², the territory of the Coral Sea Islands with an area of ​​7 km² (water area is about 780 thousand km²), Heard Island and the 372 km² McDonald Islands (part of the Australian Antarctic Territory), Norfolk Island 35 km² and the Australian Antarctic Territory 5,896,000 km² (Australian sovereignty over this territory is not recognized by most countries in the world). The total area of ​​all external territories is 5,896,762 km² (excluding the Antarctic Territory - 762 km²).

The northern and eastern coasts of Australia are washed by the seas of the Pacific Ocean: Arafura, Coral, Tasmanovo, Indian Ocean - Timor; western and southern - the Indian Ocean. Near Australia are the large islands of New Guinea and Tasmania. Along the northeast coast of Australia, the world's largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, stretches for more than 2,000 kilometers.

Australia stretches from west to east for almost 4,000 kilometers, and from north to south for about 3,860 kilometers. The extreme points of the mainland are: in the north - Cape York (10 ° S. latitude), in the south - Cape South East Cape (43 ° S. latitude), in the west - Cape Steep Point (114 ° E. long. .), in the east - Cape Byron (154 ° E).

The length of the coastline of Australia is 59,736 km (of which the mainland - 35,877 km, the island - 23,859 km), and the area of the exclusive economic zone is 8,148,250 km².

 

Climate

Australia's climate is heavily influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and El Niño, which create periodic droughts and seasonal tropical low pressures that lead to the formation of cyclones in northern Australia. These factors cause a marked change in precipitation from year to year. Much of the north of the country has a tropical climate with predominantly summer precipitation. Almost three quarters of Australia are deserts and semi-deserts. In the southwestern part of the country, the climate is Mediterranean. Much of the southeast of the country (including Tasmania) has a temperate climate. The aridity of the region is affected by the cold West Australian Current, which does not provide energy for the formation of a cyclone. Something similar is happening in the west of South America, but everything changes there with the advent of El Niño.

Precipitation level
Nearly 40% of Australia receives less than 250 mm of precipitation per year, and 70% less than 500 mm. The driest region of Australia is located around Lake Eyre, in South Australia. It receives less than 125 mm of precipitation annually. For comparison, Moscow receives 600-800 mm of precipitation per year, Madrid - 400 mm, and Tokyo - 1530 mm. Regions that receive a lot of precipitation are small in area. Snow falls regularly in only two places - at an altitude of 1350 m in the Australian Alps and at an altitude of 1050 m in the mountains of Tasmania.

 

Geological structure

The territory of the country is based on the ancient Australian platform, which is part of the once-existing continent of Gondwana in the southern hemisphere of the Earth.

 

Relief

Most of the country's territory is occupied by vast deserts and lowlands. The most famous deserts are: Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desert. To the east of the Victoria Desert lies the semi-desert of the Great Artesian Basin. In the east of the mainland there are heavily destroyed, low mountains of the Hercynian folding - the Great Dividing Range with a maximum height in the south (Mount Kosciuszko, 2228 m; Townsend, 2209 m). Faults and river valleys divide the mountains into separate massifs. The tops of the mountains are dome-shaped. The eastern slopes of the mountains drop steeply to the sea, the western slopes are more gentle. Australia is the only continent where there is no modern glaciation and active volcanoes; Australia owns two active volcanoes located on islands away from the mainland.

The lowest point in Australia is Lake Eyre (−15 m), with an area of ​​​​about 15,000 km².

Mount Kosciuszko is the highest point on the Australian continent. The country's highest point (Mawson Peak Volcano) is located on the subantarctic Heard Island.

 

Natural resources

The main natural wealth of the country is mineral resources. Australia's endowment with natural resource potential is 20 times higher than the world average. The country ranks 2nd in the world in terms of bauxite reserves (1/3 of the world reserves and 40% of production), zirconium, 1st in the world in terms of uranium reserves (1/3 of the world) and 3rd (after Kazakhstan and Canada ) for its production: 8022 tons in 2009. The country ranks 6th in the world in terms of coal reserves. It has significant reserves of manganese, gold, diamonds. In the south of the country (the Brownlow field), as well as off the northeastern and northwestern coasts in the shelf zone, there are insignificant deposits of oil and natural gas.

 

Hydrology

Australia's river system is small. It is represented mainly by the Murray River (Murray) with a tributary of the Darling, which originate in the Great Dividing Range. In the lower reaches, the Darling dries up and breaks up into separate reservoirs. The length of the Murray, which is the longest river in the country, is 2375 km. The second longest river in Australia is the Murrumbidgee (1485 km), the third is the Darling (1472 km; taking into account the length of all tributaries of the Darling River, which are not officially part of it, the length increases to 2844 km, making the Darling the longest river in Australia). The Murray River and its tributary, the Darling, are also the main rivers in the Murray-Darling river basin, which is considered the largest in the country: it occupies about 14% of Australia's land mass, or more than 1 million km². The most developed river network is on the island of Tasmania. The rivers there have a mixed rain and snow supply and are full-flowing throughout the year. They flow down from the mountains and therefore are stormy, rapids and have large reserves of hydropower. For example, the Derwent River is widely used for the construction of hydroelectric power plants. The availability of cheap electricity contributes to the development of energy-intensive industries in Tasmania, such as the smelting of pure electrolyte metals, the production of cellulose, etc. The lack of surface water is partially compensated by the large reserves of groundwater that accumulate in artesian basins. The artesian waters of Australia contain a lot of salts.

On the territory of Australia there are a large number of lakes, which are located mainly in basins filled with water only after rains. At the same time, for a significant part of the year, these lakes are covered with a clay-saline crust. The largest lakes in the country are Eyre (9500 km²), Mackay (3494 km²), Amadius (1032 km²), Garnpang (542 km²) and Gordon (270 km²; at the same time it is the largest artificial reservoir in Australia). The largest salt lakes are Eyre (9500 km²), Torrens (5745 km²) and Gairdner (4351 km²). The highest lake in Australia is Cootapatamba.

 

Live nature

Although most of the continent is occupied by semi-deserts and deserts, Australia has a variety of landscapes: from those similar to alpine meadows to tropical jungles. Due to the considerable age of the continent (as well as low soil fertility), the wide variety of weather patterns and long geographical isolation, Australia's biota is rich and unique. The flora and fauna of Australia in total include about 12 thousand species, of which about 9 thousand are endemic. Among flowering plants, 85% are endemic, 84% are mammals, 45% are birds, and 89% are coastal fish. Many of Australia's ecological regions and their flora and fauna are threatened by human activity and introduced plant and animal species.

The main legal document regulating the protection of endangered species in Australia is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Eng. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). In order to protect and preserve the unique ecosystem of Australia, a large number of protected areas have been created in the country: 64 wetlands have been included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, 16 sites have been included in the World Heritage List. In 2005, Australia ranked 13th in the Environmental Sustainability Index.

Most Australian woody plants are evergreen, and some have adapted to drought or fire, such as eucalyptus and acacia. The continent has a large number of endemic plants of the legume family, which can survive on marginal soils thanks to mycorrhiza with bacteria of the genus Rhizobium.

The flora of cool Tasmania differs significantly from the flora of the mainland. In addition to the eucalyptus trees typical of Australia, a significant number of tree species related to New Zealand and South American trees grow on the island, in particular the evergreen southern beech (notophagus).

The most famous representatives of the Australian fauna are monotremes (platypuses and echidnas), various marsupials (koalas, kangaroos, wombats), and birds such as emu, cockatoo and kookaburra. Australia is home to the largest number of venomous snakes in the world. Dingoes were introduced by Austronesians who traded with the Australian Aborigines from 3000 BC. e. Many plants and animals, including giant marsupials, became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene; others (for example, the Tasmanian tiger (marsupial wolf)) became extinct with the advent of Europeans.

The waters washing Australia are also rich in cephalopods. Among the most famous species are blue-ringed octopuses (several species of the genus Hapalochlaena, ranked among the most poisonous animals in the world) and giant Australian cuttlefish, gathering every winter for mass mating games in one of the bays of Spencer Bay.

 

Ecological situation, nature protection activities

Air pollution
About 10% of homes in Australia are heated with wood, which leads to significant air pollution during the cold months. Wood heating accounts for up to 40% of air pollution, including large cities such as Sydney and Adelaide. A study in the small town of Armidale (about 20,000 inhabitants) found that 14 premature deaths and more than $30 million in damages were associated with woodstove smoke each year.

Especially strong air pollution is caused by large forest fires, the smoke from which in some years reaches the shores of New Zealand.

Water use restrictions
By the end of the 20th century, a tense situation with fresh water had developed in many parts of Australia. For example, the growing needs of the population and industry of the state of South Australia could hardly be met by traditional sources (the Murray River), small rivers flowing from the hills near Adelaide, rainwater collected by the population, and artesian water).

In this regard, in Australia there are official restrictions on the use of water (English water restrictions). They vary greatly by region, and usually consist of several levels (Sydney city - three levels, Queensland - 7 levels), each of which has its own prohibitions. The easing of prohibitions (increase in the level of water discharge) is usually associated with the beginning of the rainy season (falls in winter, in the Southern Hemisphere - June, July, August), and the filling of reservoirs. Examples of such bans are: a ban on washing a car with a hose (you can only use a bucket), filling pools, watering hard surfaces (asphalt, concrete), watering lawns from 10 am to 4 pm.

Construction of desalination plants
Due to the shortage of fresh water in the state of South Australia, the construction of several large-scale reverse osmosis desalination plants is planned. The construction of similar structures is planned on the Gulf of St. Vincent, to provide Adelaide with water.

Mining company BHP Billiton, which plans to further expand its uranium mines (quarries) Olympic Dam, located in the desert a few hundred kilometers north of Spencer Bay, plans to build a large-scale desalination plant at the northern end of the bay (Whyalla), and a main plumbing from there to his career. According to the project, the plant will take 360,000 m3 of water from the bay daily, producing 180,000 m3 of fresh water (120,000 m3 of water for the needs of the mining company, plus another 60,000 m3 of water for the population of the Eyre Peninsula), and discharging 180,000 .m³ of brine remaining after desalination back to the bay.

These plans are alarming local environmental organizations. They are concerned that water intakes will suck up a lot of plankton (including fish larvae, etc.), and that rising salinity of the water remaining in the bays will harm underwater inhabitants, including giant Australian cuttlefish, which gather annually for their mating games in the northern part of Spencer Bay.

 

Population

The population of Australia at the 2011 census was 21,507,719. According to an estimate at the end of 2018 - 25,180,200 people.

Until the end of the 18th century, the population of Australia consisted of the Australian Aborigines, the Torres Strait Islanders and the Tasmanian Aborigines who came 40-50 thousand years ago (there are cultural and even external differences between these three groups).

The majority of the Australian population are descendants of 19th and 20th century immigrants, with most of these immigrants coming from Britain and Ireland. The settlement of Australia by immigrants from the British Isles began in 1788, when the first batch of exiles was landed on the east coast of Australia and the first English settlement of Port Jackson (future Sydney) was founded. Voluntary immigration from England took on significant proportions only in the 1820s, when sheep breeding began to develop rapidly in Australia. After the discovery of gold in Australia, a lot of immigrants arrived here from England and partly from other countries. For 10 years (1851-61) the population of Australia almost tripled, exceeding 1 million people.

In the period from 1838 to 1900, more than 18 thousand Germans arrived in Australia, who settled mainly in the south of the country; by 1890 the Germans were the second largest ethnic group on the continent. Among them were persecuted Lutherans, economic and political refugees - for example, those who left Germany after the revolutionary events of 1848.

In 1901 the Australian colonies united into a federation. The consolidation of the Australian nation accelerated in the first decades of the 20th century, when the national economy of Australia finally strengthened.

Australia's population has more than doubled since World War II (four times after World War I) thanks to an ambitious program to stimulate immigration. In 2001, 27.4% of the Australian population was foreign-born. The largest groups among them were the British and Irish, New Zealanders, Italians, Greeks, Dutch, Germans, Yugoslavs, Vietnamese and Chinese.

Australia's largest city is Sydney, the capital of the most populous state of New South Wales.

The Australian Capital Territory is the most populous entity in the Commonwealth of Australia with a population density of 151.49 people/km².

If you leave the coast and proceed inland for about 200 kilometers, the sparsely populated areas of the continent will begin. Exuberant rainforests and rich agricultural land give way to hot, dry, open country where only shrubs and grasses can be found. However, these areas also have life. Vast sheep and cow pastures, known as stations, stretch for hundreds of kilometers. Further, in the depths of the mainland, the scorching heat of the desert begins.

The official language is English (a dialect known as Australian English).

 

Administrative-territorial division

Australia is made up of six states, two mainland territories and other smaller territories. The states are Victoria (VIC), Western Australia (WA), Queensland (QLD), New South Wales (NSW), Tasmania (TAS) and South Australia (SA). The two main mainland territories are the Northern Territory (NT), and the Federal Capital Territory (ACT). The status of the Territories is much like that of the States, except that the Federal Parliament can overrule any decision of the Territorial Parliament, while in relation to the States, Federal law takes precedence over State law only in those cases specified in paragraph 51 of the Constitution. All other matters remain the responsibility of the state, such as health care, education, law enforcement, public transportation, roads, the judiciary, and local government.

Each state and mainland territory has its own legislature: unicameral in the Northern Territory, the Capital Territory and Queensland, and bicameral in the rest of the states. The lower house is called the Legislative Assembly (in South Australia and Tasmania - the Legislative Assembly), and the upper house - the Legislative Council. State governments are headed by premiers, and territories by chief ministers. In addition to the Governor-General of the Union, the monarchy is also represented in individual states by governors, and in the Northern Territory and the Federal Capital Territory by administrators who perform functions similar to governors.

Australia owns several territories. The federal government controls the territory of Jervis Bay, located in New South Wales (it is the military base and seaport of the national capital). At the same time, several inhabited outer territories are under the control of Australia: Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands; and several uninhabited areas: Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Coral Sea Islands Territory, Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, and the Australian Antarctic Territory (a third of Antarctica). Australia's sovereignty over the territory of Antarctica is not recognized by many states, including Russia.

 

State-political structure

Fundamentals of the state-legal system
Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The head of state is the King of Australia - Charles III. Australia is a Commonwealth realm, in which supporters of the republican form of government have the strongest positions. The basic law of the state is the constitution, approved by Queen Victoria in 1900. Other pieces of legislation also have constitutional force, such as the Statute of Westminster Act and the Australia Act.

In Australia, the question of a republican form of government is often raised. In February 1998, the Constitutional Convention was held in Canberra, where the majority of the delegates voted for the transformation of Australia into a republic. In 1999, following the results of the convention, a referendum was held on the introduction of a republican form of government. 45.13% of the participants voted for the republic. According to a sociological survey conducted at the end of 2005, 46% of Australians want Australia to become a republic. Only 34% believe that the British monarch should be the head of the country, while 52% do not want Prince Charles of Wales to become the next king, whom only 29% of Australian citizens want to see as the future head of the country. Many observers believed that Queen Elizabeth II would be the last British monarch to lead the Commonwealth of Australia. In March 2007, Australian Prime Minister John Howard expressed doubt that Australia would become a republic while Queen Elizabeth II reigned at that time.

Executive branch
The head of the executive branch of government in Australia is the Prime Minister, currently Anthony Albanese.

The formal head of state, the King of the Commonwealth of Australia, is Charles III. The king appoints a governor-general who has the power to intervene in the event of a constitutional crisis, and in normal times plays an exclusively representative role. The Governor General is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Armed Forces, representing the King in this position. In accordance with the Australian constitution and the principle of the Crown, despite the fact that Charles III is the king of Australia and Great Britain in one person, his power and political influence is exercised in completely different ways on the territory of the two countries.

 

The Prime Minister is elected on behalf of the Governor General. Only the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the House of Representatives always becomes prime minister. The only time a senator became prime minister was the election of John Gorton as prime minister, who subsequently resigned his post in the Senate and became a member of the House of Representatives (there was also a time when Senator George Pierce was acting prime minister for seven months in 1916 years, while William Hughes was abroad).

The Australian Cabinet is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia. Ministers directly included in the cabinet are called senior ministers (eng. Senior Cabinet minister). Only senior ministers take part in cabinet meetings, although other ministers may attend if their area of ​​activity is on the agenda. Cabinet meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister.

Legislature
Australia has a bicameral federal parliament, consisting of a Senate (upper house) of 76 senators and a House of Representatives (lower house) of 150 deputies. Parliament also includes the King of Great Britain (represented by the Governor General). The Australian Parliament is the sixth oldest continuous democracy in the world.

The deputies of the lower house are elected from single-member constituencies. Deputies are elected for 3 years by the majority electoral system of absolute majority with preferential (preferential) voting. No state may be represented by less than 5 deputies. In the Senate, each of the 6 states is represented by 12 senators, and each territory by two. Elections to the Senate are held on party lists. Senators are elected for 6 years. Half of the Senate is re-elected every three years.

The government is formed from the deputies of the lower house, and the leader of the party (or coalition of parties) of the majority automatically becomes the prime minister.

 

State symbols
The flag of Australia is a rectangular panel of blue, which depicts three elements: the flag of Great Britain (also known as the "Union Jack"), the Commonwealth Star (or Federation Star, aka Hadar) and the constellation of the Southern Cross.

According to the Flag Act, the image of the flag of Great Britain must be in the upper left quarter of the flag[146]; an image of a large white star, symbolizing the 6 states of Australia and other territories, in the center of the lower left quarter, indicating the center of the flag of St. George as part of the flag of Great Britain, and five white stars, symbolizing the constellation of the Southern Cross, should be in the right half of the panel.

A full description of the flag's modern design was published in the Commonwealth Gazette in 1934.

The coat of arms of Australia is a shield on which, from left to right, are the coats of arms of the states: New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. At the bottom of the shield, from left to right: South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Above the shield is a seven-sided "Commonwealth Star" or Federation Star above blue and gold wreaths. The six points of the star represent the 6 states, and the seventh represents the totality of the territories and Australia itself. The shield is held by kangaroos and emus. The original coat of arms was granted by Edward VII in 1907.

Australia's national anthem is Advance Australia Fair. Composed by Peter McCormick in 1878. This anthem, on the recommendation of the government of Robert Hawke and with the permission of Governor General Ninian Stephen, was replaced by the British "God Save The Queen" in 1984.

Political parties
The main parties in Australia are the Labor (English Australian Labor Party; established in 1891), the Liberal (English Liberal Party of Australia; 1944) and the National (English National Party of Australia; 1916).

A coalition of the Liberal and National parties was in power from 1996 to 2007, and since 2004 has also controlled the Senate. In the parliamentary elections of 2007, however, Labor won the majority in the lower house, which at that time had a majority in all states and territories of the state.

In the 2013 elections, a coalition of Liberals, the National Party, the Liberal National Party of Queensland and the Agrarian Liberal Party won and formed a government led by Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott.

In order to register as a political party, one must have a charter outlining its foundations and at least one member of parliament or 500 members on the electoral roll.

 

Foreign policy

In recent decades, Australia's foreign relations have been based on close relations with the United States and New Zealand through the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty), with Southeast Asia through ASEAN, and Oceania through the Pacific Islands Forum. The main efforts of the state are aimed at the liberalization of foreign trade. Australia provides assistance to many developing countries.

The John Howard government, which was in power from 1996 to 2007, pursued a foreign policy aimed at prioritizing relations with Australia's traditional allies - the US and the UK - to the detriment of support for international multilateral efforts within the UN. The government has advocated maintaining good neighborly relations with regional powers such as China, Japan and Indonesia, although sometimes there are problems here - for example, the situation around East Timor. Australia is increasing its participation in solving the internal problems of its neighbors - Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Nauru.

East Timor
In mid-January 2006, more than a year and a half negotiations between Australia and East Timor over gas and oil fields in the Timor Sea ended. The parties signed an agreement, as a result of which the profit from gas production will be divided according to the 50/50 scheme. The main share in the development of the field belongs to the Australian company Woodside Petroleum, ConocoPhilips and Royal Dutch/Shell also participate. The demarcation of the border between the states has not been carried out, and the parties also agreed to postpone the border treaty for fifty years in order to begin exploitation of a joint field located in a disputed area.

 

Economy

Australia is a highly developed post-industrial state. One of the few capitalist countries that most fully embodies the principle of laissez-faire in economic management, according to the Index of Economic Freedom. Australia's gross domestic product per capita is slightly higher than the UK, Germany and France at purchasing power parity. The country was ranked second out of 170 (2009) in the Human Development Index and sixth in quality of life by The Economist (2005). In 2011, a record number of Australian cities were included in the magazine's top 10 most livable cities in the world, with Melbourne ranked first, Sydney sixth, Perth eighth and Adelaide ninth.

The significant predominance of the extractive sector of the economy over industrial production led to a significant growth of the Australian economy at the beginning of the century due to high resource prices. Australia's negative balance of payments exceeds 7% of GDP, and a significant current account deficit has been observed over the past 50 years. Over the past 15 years, the Australian economy has grown at an average rate of 3.7% per annum, while the global average growth was 2.5% over the same period.

The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, as well as Christmas Island, Cocos Islands and Norfolk Island. In addition, this currency is in circulation in the independent states of Oceania - Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. The Australian Stock Exchange is the country's largest platform for trading stocks and derivatives.

In 1983, the government of the country turned the Australian dollar into a freely convertible currency and partially weakened the regulation of the economic system. This was followed by a series of reforms that led to a partial deregulation of the labor market and further privatization of state-owned enterprises, primarily in the telecommunications sector. The indirect tax system underwent a significant change in July 2000 with the introduction of a special Australian value-added tax, which somewhat reduced the reliance on corporate and individual income taxes that characterized the Australian tax system prior to these changes.

In January 2007, the total number of people employed in all areas of the Australian economy was 10,033,480, with an unemployment rate of 4.6%. Over the past decade, inflation has not exceeded 2-3%, and base interest rates have fluctuated within 5-6%. At the beginning of 2008, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, but again reached 4.4% in December of the same year. The service sector, which includes tourism, education and banks, accounts for 69% of GDP. Although agriculture and the extraction of natural resources account for only 3% and 5% of GDP, respectively, they form a significant share of exports. According to the World Bank, in 2012 Australia ranked third in the world after the US and France in wheat exports (17.6 million tons worth $5.7 billion). In the second half of the 20th century, the country's economy shifted to Japan and other East Asian countries, which became Australia's main foreign trade partners. The main buyers of Australian products are Japan, China, the USA, South Korea and New Zealand. Currently, Australia is actively working to establish a free trade regime with China, the country's second largest foreign trade partner after Japan.

According to Newsweek magazine, the country is ranked 4th in the list of "The Best Countries in the World". This composite indicator consists of the following rankings: education - 13th place, health - 3rd place, quality of life - 6th place, economic dynamism - 6th place, political environment - 9th place.

According to the World Economic Forum (World Economic Forum), in the ranking of world competitiveness (List of the most competitive countries in the world) for 2010-2011, Australia ranks 16th.

It occupies one of the first places in the world in terms of electricity production per capita.

Human Resources
About 21 million people live in Australia. The share of foreign workers in the country is 25%. In some regions of Australia there is a shortage of workers. This is primarily due to the small population with a large area of ​​these areas (density H = 3 people / km²) and the fact that the majority of the population lives on the east coast of Australia. A lot of people from China, Vietnam, Korea work in the western part of the country. Their number is growing rapidly.

 

Agriculture

Agriculture is one of the main branches of the Australian economy. The share of agriculture in Australia's GDP is 3%, the volume of gross value added in agriculture and livestock is more than 155 billion Australian dollars. 61% of the country's area is covered by 135,996 farms and pastoral farms, combining irrigated land with rainfed fields.

There are three main agricultural zones in Australia:
a zone of high precipitation, which includes the island of Tasmania and a narrow coastal zone of the east coast (used mainly for dairy and meat production);
the field zone is used for sowing winter wheat and grazing sheep used for wool and meat;
pasture zones are characterized by low rainfall and less fertile soil, used for grazing cattle.

Australia has a high percentage of primary production for both export and domestic consumption. Cereals, oilseeds and legumes are grown on a large scale for both human consumption and livestock feed. The share of area for wheat cultivation is one of the largest in the world in terms of area. Sugarcane is also an important crop for the Australian economy.

Australia produces a large amount of fruits, nuts and vegetables. The main products are oranges, apples, bananas, chestnuts, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. The State of Queensland and the Northern Territory are the suppliers of mangoes and pineapples.

Australia is one of the few countries that cultivates opium poppy for pharmaceutical purposes. Production on the island of Tasmania is under the strict control of the state.

The total income from the export of meat is about 996.5 million Australian dollars. The income from the export of cattle is about 662 million Australian dollars, from the export of lamb - 323 million Australian dollars. Indonesia is the largest consumer of Australian meat.

One of the most important products of Australian agriculture is wool. The Australian wool industry is recognized worldwide for producing the highest quality mutton. Since 2001, Australian wool production has accounted for 9% of world production. At the same time, Australia dominates the fine wool sector, producing 50% of the world's muton. Although sheep are raised all over Australia, 36% of the sheep live in New South Wales.

Due to the large area of ​​deserts in Australia, as well as irregular rainfall, artificial irrigation is necessary for agriculture. In addition to artificial irrigation, the main problems facing agriculture in Australia are drought, low soil fertility, weeds, global warming caused by climate change, biosecurity (biological threats posed by imported products and livestock), tariffs on Australian exports in importing countries (particularly in Europe and Japan), currency fluctuations and price volatility.

 

Industry

The chemical, electrical, metallurgical industries, and the automotive industry are developed.

Oil and gas industry
Oil and gas production in Australia has been carried out since .... of the year.

Australian automotive industry
Australia is one of the few countries that has its own companies involved in the development and production of cars.

Transport
Transport is an essential part of the infrastructure of the Australian economy, as the country has a vast territory and low population density. An important role is played by rail transport, road transport.

social infrastructure
Education
School education
The Australian school system is built on the basis of English. In Australia, public schools predominate and 70% of schoolchildren study in them, the rest - in private (about 950 private schools operate in Australia). Some of these schools belong to the church. Among private educational institutions there are boarding schools that accept children from abroad starting from the 6th grade. To enter the most prestigious schools, the child needs to be fluent in English and pass the entrance exams.

In addition, there are classes and separate schools for children with outstanding abilities (selective). To enter, you must pass an entrance exam.

Australians start going to school at the age of 5. Secondary education in Australia takes 13 years - the first year in the preparatory class (kindergarten in New South Wales and the Capital Territory or preschool in other states) and 12 years in school itself. After grade 10, students make their choice and can leave school.

Higher education
There are no entrance exams for Australian universities. Getting a place at the university after graduation is entirely dependent on the result of the final school examinations, reflected in the school leaving certificate. The name of the certificate varies by state and territory, however, regardless of the name, they all carry the same "weight" for Australian universities.

 

Healthcare

HIV AIDS:
Among the adult population: 0.2% (as of 2007).
People living with HIV/AIDS: 18,000 (as of 2007).
Deaths: no more than 200 (as of 2003)

Lifespan
Life expectancy in Australia ranks fourth in the world for men and third for women. Life expectancy in Australia in 2014-2016 was 80.4 years for men and 84.6 years for women. Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, while cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease, accounting for 7.8% of total mortality and disease. The second place among the preventable causes is occupied by hypertension (7.6%), the third - obesity - 7.5%. Australia ranks 35th in the world and is the leader among developed countries in terms of the proportion of obese adults, with almost two-thirds (63%) of the country's adult population being overweight or obese.
Total health spending (including private sector spending) is about 9.8% of GDP. Australia introduced universal health care in 1975. Known as Medicare, it is now nominally funded by an income tax surcharge known as the Medicare fee, which currently stands at 2%. The states operate hospitals and their associated outpatient services, while the Commonwealth funds the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (subsidizing the cost of drugs) and general practice.

Pension provision
In Australia, the retirement age is 65 years. There is a system of restrictions on the level of pension provision. 70% of Australians receive a pension of the maximum size, but the rest of the citizens have their pension reduced, taking into account the amount of their income. In order to protect such citizens, the country has introduced a system of professional pension insurance, which covers 90% of workers. Each employee and employer is required to deduct contributions to any of the private pension funds, and pension contributions are not included in the tax base. The Australian pension insurance system is mandatory and is currently considered the most modern of all models introduced in industrialized countries.

 

Culture

Language
Australia has its own dialect of the English language, informally called "string" (English strine, from the Australian pronunciation of the word "Australian"). The English language of the Australian aborigines stands out separately.

Written Australian English generally follows the rules of British English (e.g. -our (colour), -re (centre), -ise (modernise), etc.)

American pronunciation of the English language finds its way into Australia through popular television programs broadcast by CNN (for example, the favorite series of young people, The Simpsons). Teenagers imitate the pronunciation of popular TV characters.

Architecture
The architectural styles of the colonial period were heavily influenced by British culture. However, the need to adapt to Australia's unique climate and the new trends of the 20th century saw the growing influence of American urban design and the diversification of cultural tastes and demands in an increasingly multicultural Australian society.

Well-known Australian architectural styles of residential architecture include Queenslander (private town houses made of wood on stilts for better air circulation and protection from termites) and Federation (was popular from 1890-1920). In the 1960s, in connection with the ban on demolishing historic buildings of the eighteenth century and building up park areas, a skyscraper boom began, especially in Sydney.

Australia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Exhibition Center and the Australian Convict Settlements.

Art
Music
One of the oldest wind instruments in the world, the didgeridoo, was invented in Australia.

Australian alternative and rock bands (AC / DC, Bee Gees, Nick Cave, Airbourne, INXS, Savage Garden, Midnight Oil, etc.) have gained worldwide fame.

Australian-born pop singers include Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, Olivia Newton-John, Keith Urban, Danny Minogue, Darren Hayes, Gabriella Chilmi, Jason Donovan, Jimmy Barnes, and young artist Cody Simpson.

In 2015, Australia participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time.

Dance and ballet
Graham Murphy is one of the world's preeminent ballet directors.

Theatre
The indigenous population of Australia did not know the theater. The first theatrical performances in Australia, which were given by the forces of colonists and convicts exiled from England, took place around 1780. The first performance took place in Sydney on June 4, 1879: the convicts in the barracks presented a play based on J. Farquhar's comedy "Recruiting Officer".
At the beginning of the 20th century, a Jewish professional theater was organized in Melbourne, which gave its performances in Yiddish.

The circus
As in most European countries, there are no permanent circus facilities in Australia. Circuses travel from city to city, unfolding big tops on specially prepared sites. The most popular troupes in Australia:

Circus Oz is headquartered in Melbourne.
Cirque du Soleil - based in Quebec (Canada), the circus currently has representation in many countries of the world, including Australia.
The troupe, performing in various cities of Australia, under the name Moscow Circus, has nothing to do with the Moscow circus.

Traditions and customs
British heritage:
There is left-hand traffic on the continent, following the British model.
The sport of cricket remains very popular.
The status of the Queen's Birthday as a public holiday is retained. Formally, the Queen of Great Britain is considered the head of state in Australia.
In 1984, the anthem "God Save the Queen" was replaced by the anthem "Go Australia Beautiful".

Religion
Australia is a multi-religious country and has no official religion. Christianity is Australia's predominant faith.

Holidays
As of 2011, public holidays (eng. Public holidays; actually they are state holidays) are:
January 1 - New Year's Day
January 26 - Australia Day
Good Friday (Eng. Good Friday; in Australia it is celebrated on the first Friday after the full moon or after March 21)
Easter Monday (Eng. Easter Monday, celebrated after Easter)
April 25 - Anzac Day
December 25 - Gregorian Christmas Day
December 26 - Boxing Day
In addition, each state has the right to establish its own public holidays, such as the Queen's birthday, Labor Day, ekka and others.

 

Mass media

Two media companies in Australia are government funded: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS); both provide free-to-air broadcast on television, radio and the Internet and are owned by the Australian government. After a heated debate in the early 2000s, a 1992 bill was retained that prohibited foreign firms from buying more than 20% of local television and radio companies.

Television: Television first appeared in Australia in 1956. Color television appeared in 1975. In addition to public television, which is available to almost the entire population of Australia, there are three main commercial television channels: Nine Network, Seven Network and Network Ten, which cover most of the country's densely populated cities. Digital broadcasting began on January 1, 2001; analogue broadcasting was turned off in 2013.

Radio: The first radio broadcast in the country began on November 13, 1923, in Sydney. There are currently 274 commercial radio stations (due to advertising) and 341 public radio stations (funded by the state).

Press: Daily newspapers include 2 national, 10 state/territory, 37 regional, and 470 other local and suburban newspapers. All major newspapers are owned by either News Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation, or Fairfax Media.

Sport
Australia hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

 

Armed forces

The Australian armed forces are known as the Australian Defense Force (ADF). They are made up of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Air Force.

The acquisition of the aircraft is voluntary on a contract basis, the service life is limited only by the terms of the contract.

Total number: 51.5 thousand (regular) and 19.5 thousand (reserve)
Mobilization resources: 4.9 million people (of which 4.2 million are fit for service)
All branches of the Australian armed forces are actively involved in peacekeeping operations (currently East Timor and the Solomon Islands), rescue operations and military conflicts (currently Iraq and Afghanistan).

The Prime Minister appoints the commander-in-chief from among the commanders of the branches of the armed forces. The Australian Defense Force is currently commanded by Air Marshal Angus Houston. In fiscal year 2005/06, military spending was A$17.5 billion - 2% of GDP.

Naval bases:
Sydney
Cockburn Sound
Melbourne

Air bases:
Darwin
Canberra
Laverton
richmond
Sydney

There are 16 US military facilities on the territory of the country, including a radio communication center with SSBNs (North-Western Cape) and the Woomera missile range.