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Aboriginal Australians arrived on the continent at least 60,000 years ago and developed complex hunter-gatherer societies and oral histories. Dutch navigators led by Abel TASMAN were the first Europeans to land in Australia in 1606, and they mapped the western and northern coasts. They named the continent New Holland but made no attempts to permanently settle it. In 1770, English captain James COOK sailed to the east coast of Australia, named it New South Wales, and claimed it for Great Britain. In 1788 and 1825, Great Britain established New South Wales and then Tasmania as penal colonies respectively. Great Britain and Ireland sent more than 150,000 convicts to Australia before ending the practice in 1868. As Europeans began settling areas away from the coasts, they came into more direct contact with Aboriginal Australians. Europeans also cleared land for agriculture, impacting Aboriginal Australians’ ways of life. These issues, along with disease and a policy in the 1900s that forcefully removed Aboriginal children from their parents, reduced the Aboriginal Australian population from more than 700,000 pre-European contact to a low of 74,000 in 1933.

Four additional colonies were established in Australia in the mid-1800s: Western Australia (1829), South Australia (1836), Victoria (1851), and Queensland (1859). Gold rushes beginning in the 1850s brought thousands of new immigrants to New South Wales and Victoria, helping to reorient Australia away from its penal colony roots. In the second half of the 1800s, the colonies were all gradually granted self-government, and in 1901, they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia contributed more than 400,000 troops to allied efforts during World War I, and Australian troops played a large role in the defeat of Japanese troops in the Pacific in World War II. Australia severed most constitutional links with the UK in 1942, and in 1951 signed the Australia, New Zealand, and US (ANZUS) Treaty, cementing its military alliance with the US. Australia’s post-war economy boomed and by the 1970s, racial policies that prevented most non-whites from immigrating to Australia were removed, greatly increasing Asian immigration to the country. In recent decades, Australia has become an internationally competitive, advanced market economy due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s and its proximity to East and Southeast Asia.

In the early 2000s, Australian politics became unstable with frequent attempts to oust party leaders, including five changes of prime minister between 2010 and 2018. As a result, both major parties instituted rules to make it harder to remove a party leader.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

Geographic coordinates

27 00 S, 133 00 E


total: 7,741,220 sq km

land: 7,682,300 sq km

water: 58,920 sq km

note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states

<p>slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states</p>

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


25,760 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north


mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast


highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,228 m

lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m

mean elevation: 330 m

Natural resources

alumina, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, rare earth elements, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum; note - Australia is the world's largest net exporter of coal accounting for 29% of global coal exports

Land use

agricultural land: 46.65% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.03% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.04% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 42.58% (2018 est.)

forest: 17.42% (2018 est.)

other: 33.42% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

25,460 sq km (2014)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Alexandrina - 570 sq km

Salt water lake(s): Lake Eyre - 9,690 sq km; Lake Torrens (ephemeral) - 5,780 sq km; Lake Gairdner - 4,470 sq km; Lake Mackay (ephemeral) - 3,494 sq km; Lake Frome - 2,410 sq km; Lake Amadeus (ephemeral) - 1,032 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

River Murray - 2,508 km; Darling River - 1,545 km; Murrumbidgee River - 1,485 km; Lachlan River - 1,339 km; Cooper Creek - 1,113 km; Flinders River - 1,004 km

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Great Australian Bight) Murray-Darling (1,050,116 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Lake Eyre (1,212,198 sq km)

Major aquifers

Great Artesian Basin, Canning Basin

Population distribution

population is primarily located on the periphery, with the highest concentration of people residing in the east and southeast; a secondary population center is located in and around Perth in the west; of the States and Territories, New South Wales has, by far, the largest population; the interior, or "outback", has a very sparse population

Natural hazards

cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

volcanism: volcanic activity on Heard and McDonald Islands

Geography - note

note 1: world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; the largest country in Oceania, the largest country entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, and the largest country without land borders

note 2: the Great Dividing Range that runs along eastern Australia is that continent’s longest mountain range and the third-longest land-based range in the world; the term "Great Dividing Range" refers to the fact that the mountains form a watershed crest from which all of the rivers of eastern Australia flow – east, west, north, and south

note 3: Australia is the only continent without glaciers; it is the driest inhabited continent on earth, making it particularly vulnerable to the challenges of climate change; the invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast and is one of the most consistent winds in the world; Australia is home to 10% of the world's biodiversity, and a great number of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else in the world

People and Society


25,809,973 (July 2021 est.)


noun: Australian(s)

adjective: Australian

Ethnic groups

English 25.9%, Australian 25.4%, Irish 7.5%, Scottish 6.4%, Italian 3.3%, German 3.2%, Chinese 3.1%, Indian 1.4%, Greek 1.4%, Dutch 1.2%, other 15.8% (includes Australian Aboriginal .5%), unspecified 5.4% (2011 est.)

note: data represent self-identified ancestry, over a third of respondents reported two ancestries


English 72.7%, Mandarin 2.5%, Arabic 1.4%, Cantonese 1.2%, Vietnamese 1.2%, Italian 1.2%, Greek 1%, other 14.8%, unspecified 6.5% (2016 est.)

note: data represent language spoken at home


Protestant 23.1% (Anglican 13.3%, Uniting Church 3.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 2.3%, Baptist 1.5%, Pentecostal 1.1%, Lutheran .7%, other Protestant .5%), Roman Catholic 22.6%, other Christian 4.2%, Muslim 2.6%, Buddhist 2.4%, Orthodox 2.3% (Eastern Orthodox 2.1%, Oriental Orthodox .2%), Hindu 1.9%, other 1.3%, none 30.1%, unspecified 9.6% (2016 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.72% (male 2,457,418/female 2,309,706)

15-24 years: 12.89% (male 1,710,253/female 1,572,794)

25-54 years: 41.15% (male 5,224,840/female 5,255,041)

55-64 years: 11.35% (male 1,395,844/female 1,495,806)

65 years and over: 15.88% (male 1,866,761/female 2,177,996) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Australia. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.1

youth dependency ratio: 29.9

elderly dependency ratio: 25.1

potential support ratio: 4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 37.5 years

male: 36.5 years

female: 38.5 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.31% (2021 est.)

Birth rate

12.35 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Death rate

6.78 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Net migration rate

7.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Population distribution

population is primarily located on the periphery, with the highest concentration of people residing in the east and southeast; a secondary population center is located in and around Perth in the west; of the States and Territories, New South Wales has, by far, the largest population; the interior, or "outback", has a very sparse population


urban population: 86.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.27% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data include Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island

Major urban areas - population

5,061 million Melbourne, 4.992 million Sydney, 2.439 million Brisbane, 2.067 million Perth, 1.345 million Adelaide, 462,000 CANBERRA (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

28.7 years (2019 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

6 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.05 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.29 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 82.89 years

male: 80.73 years

female: 85.17 years (2021 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.74 children born/woman (2021 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

66.9% (2015/16)

note: percent of women aged 18-44

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

3.68 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

3.8 beds/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

30,000 (2020 est.)

note: estimate does not include children

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2020 est.)

note: estimate does not include children

Education expenditures

5.1% of GDP (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 22 years

male: 21 years

female: 22 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 14.3%

male: 15.3%

female: 13.2% (2020 est.)


Environment - current issues

soil erosion from overgrazing, deforestation, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; limited natural freshwater resources; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; drought, desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; disruption of the fragile ecosystem has resulted in significant floral extinctions; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; overfishing, pollution, and invasive species are also problems

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 7.19 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 375.91 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 105.01 megatons (2020 est.)


generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north

Land use

agricultural land: 46.65% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.03% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.04% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 42.58% (2018 est.)

forest: 17.42% (2018 est.)

other: 33.42% (2018 est.)


urban population: 86.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.27% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data include Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0.13% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.78% of GDP (2018 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 13.345 million tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 5,618,245 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 42.1% (2015 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Alexandrina - 570 sq km

Salt water lake(s): Lake Eyre - 9,690 sq km; Lake Torrens (ephemeral) - 5,780 sq km; Lake Gairdner - 4,470 sq km; Lake Mackay (ephemeral) - 3,494 sq km; Lake Frome - 2,410 sq km; Lake Amadeus (ephemeral) - 1,032 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

River Murray - 2,508 km; Darling River - 1,545 km; Murrumbidgee River - 1,485 km; Lachlan River - 1,339 km; Cooper Creek - 1,113 km; Flinders River - 1,004 km

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Great Australian Bight) Murray-Darling (1,050,116 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Lake Eyre (1,212,198 sq km)

Major aquifers

Great Artesian Basin, Canning Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 3.392 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2.662 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 10.5 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

492 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia

conventional short form: Australia

etymology: the name Australia derives from the Latin "australis" meaning "southern"; the Australian landmass was long referred to as "Terra Australis" or the Southern Land

Government type

federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Canberra

geographic coordinates: 35 16 S, 149 08 E

time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in April

time zone note: Australia has four time zones, including Lord Howe Island (UTC+10:30)

etymology: the name is claimed to derive from either Kambera or Camberry, which are names corrupted from the original native designation for the area "Nganbra" or "Nganbira"

Administrative divisions

6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia

Dependent areas

Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island


1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)

National holiday

Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorates the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)


history: approved in a series of referenda from 1898 through 1900 and became law 9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires approval of a referendum bill by absolute majority vote in both houses of Parliament, approval in a referendum by a majority of voters in at least four states and in the territories, and Royal Assent; proposals that would reduce a state’s representation in either house or change a state’s boundaries require that state’s approval prior to Royal Assent; amended several times, last in 1977

Legal system

common law system based on the English model

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 4 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General David HURLEY (since 1 July 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Scott MORRISON (since 24 August 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister from among members of Parliament and sworn in by the governor general

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Federal Parliament consists of:
Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the 6 states and 2 each from the 2 mainland territories; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 6-year terms with one-half of state membership renewed every 3 years and territory membership renewed every 3 years)
House of Representatives (151 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority preferential vote; members serve terms of up to 3 years)

Senate - last held on 18 May 2019 (next to be held in 2022)
House of Representatives - last held on 18 May 2019 (next to be held in 2022)

election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - Liberal/National coalition 37.99%, ALP 28.79%, The Greens 10.19%, One Nation 5.4%, Centre Alliance .19%, Lambie Network .21%, other 17.23%; seats by party - Liberal/National coalition 35, ALP 26, The Greens 9, One Nation 2, Centre Alliance 2, Lambie Network 1, independent 1; composition (as of November 2021) - men 37, women 39, percent of women 51.3%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Liberal/National coalition 41.4%, ALP 33.3%, The Greens 10.4%, Katter's Australian Party .49%, Centre Alliance .33%, independents 3.37%, other 10.63%; seats by party - Liberal/National Coalition 77, ALP 68, The Greens 1, Katter's Australian Party 1, Centre Alliance 1, independent 3; composition (as of November 2021) - men 104, women 47, percent of women 31.1%; note - total Federal Parliament percent of women 37.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: High Court of Australia (consists of 7 justices, including the chief justice); note - each of the 6 states, 2 territories, and Norfolk Island has a Supreme Court; the High Court is the final appellate court beyond the state and territory supreme courts

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor-general in council for life with mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: at the federal level: Federal Court; Federal Magistrates' Courts of Australia; Family Court; at the state and territory level: Local Court - New South Wales; Magistrates' Courts – Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory; District Courts – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia; County Court – Victoria; Family Court – Western Australia; Court of Petty Sessions – Norfolk Island

Political parties and leaders

Australian Greens Party [Adam BANDT]
Australian Labor Party or ALP [Anthony ALBANESE]
Country Liberal Party or CLP [Gary HIGGINS]
Liberal National Party of Queensland or LNP [Deborah FRECKLINGTON]
Liberal Party of Australia [Scott MORRISON]
The Nationals [Michael MCCORMACK]
Centre Alliance [Nick XENOPHON]
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation [Pauline HANSON]

International organization participation

ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CD, CP, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-20, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF, SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, Wassenaar Arrangement, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Arthur SINODINOS (since 6 February 2020)

chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000

FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michael GOLDMAN (since 19 January 2021)

embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory 2600

mailing address: 7800 Canberra Place, Washington DC  20512-7800

telephone: [61] (02) 6214-5600

FAX: [61] (02) 9373-9184

email address and website:


consulate(s) general: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant known as the Commonwealth or Federation Star, representing the federation of the colonies of Australia in 1901; the star depicts one point for each of the six original states and one representing all of Australia's internal and external territories; on the fly half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small, five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars

National symbol(s)

Commonwealth Star (seven-pointed Star of Federation), golden wattle tree (Acacia pycnantha Benth), kangaroo, emu; national colors: green, gold

National anthem

name: Advance Australia Fair

lyrics/music: Peter Dodds McCORMICK

note: adopted 1984; although originally written in the late 19th century, the anthem was not used for all official occasions until 1984; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)


Economic overview

Australia is an open market with minimal restrictions on imports of goods and services. The process of opening up has increased productivity, stimulated growth, and made the economy more flexible and dynamic. Australia plays an active role in the WTO, APEC, the G20, and other trade forums. Australia’s free trade agreement (FTA) with China entered into force in 2015, adding to existing FTAs with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the US, and a regional FTA with ASEAN and New Zealand. Australia continues to negotiate bilateral agreements with Indonesia, as well as larger agreements with its Pacific neighbors and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and an Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that includes the 10 ASEAN countries and China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and India.

Australia is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron, 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.

For nearly two decades up till 2017, Australia had benefited from a dramatic surge in its terms of trade. As export prices increased faster than import prices, the economy experienced continuous growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system. Australia entered 2018 facing a range of growth constraints, principally driven by the sharp fall in global prices of key export commodities. Demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China is growing at a slower pace and sharp drops in export prices have impacted growth.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1,250,900,000,000 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$1,254,480,000,000 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$1,227,940,000,000 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Real GDP growth rate

1.84% (2019 est.)

2.77% (2018 est.)

2.45% (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$48,700 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$49,500 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$49,200 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1,390,790,000,000 (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.6% (2019 est.)

1.9% (2018 est.)

1.9% (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AAA (2011)

Moody's rating: Aaa (2002)

Standard & Poors rating: AAA (2003)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 25.3% (2017 est.)

services: 71.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 56.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -21% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, wheat, barley, milk, rapeseed, beef, cotton, grapes, poultry, potatoes


mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel

Labor force

12.568 million (2020 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 3.6%

industry: 21.1%

services: 75.3% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.16% (2019 est.)

5.29% (2018 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 14.3%

male: 15.3%

female: 13.2% (2020 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2%

highest 10%: 25.4% (1994)


revenues: 490 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 496.9 billion (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

40.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

40.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

35.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

$8.146 billion (2019 est.)

-$29.777 billion (2018 est.)


$299.04 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$342.43 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$327.32 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

Exports - partners

China 39%, Japan 15%, South Korea 7%, India 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

iron ore, coal, natural gas, gold, aluminum oxide (2019)


$249.07 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$295.46 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$310.23 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

Imports - partners

China 25%, United States 12%, Japan 7%, Germany 5%, Thailand 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, crude petroleum, broadcasting equipment, delivery trucks (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$66.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$55.07 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$3,115,913,000,000 (2019 est.)

$2,837,818,000,000 (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

1.34048 (2020 est.)

1.46402 (2019 est.)

1.38552 (2018 est.)

1.3291 (2014 est.)

1.1094 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Electricity - production

243 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity - consumption

229.4 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

72% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

11% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

17% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil - production

284,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil - exports

192,500 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Crude oil - imports

341,700 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

1.821 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

462,500 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

1.175 million bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

64,120 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

619,600 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Natural gas - production

105.2 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

45.25 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas - exports

67.96 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas - imports

5.776 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

1.989 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6.2 million (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 24.31 (2020 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 27.454 million (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 107.7 (2020 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: excellent domestic and international service with comprehensive population coverage through LTE; domestic satellite system; rapid growth of mobile and fixed-wireless broadband services through multi-technology architecture; emphasis on new technologies; diminished fixed-line market due to mobile and mobile broadband; in fixed broadband, shift to fiber networks through infrastructure build out; mobile network operators continue to work towards the launch of 5G; predicted to be one of the top markets driving the growth of 5G and data markets in Asia; fiber backbone to connect with submarine cables; Oman-Australia cable to be completed by end of 2021; two of Australia's major imports are broadcast equipment and computers from China (2020)

domestic: roughly 24 per 100 fixed-line and 108 per 100 mobile-cellular; more subscribers to mobile services than there are people; 90% of all mobile device sales are now smartphones, growth in mobile traffic brisk (2020)

international: country code - 61; landing points for more than 20 submarine cables including: the SeaMeWe-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; the INDIGO-Central, INDIGO West and ASC, North West Cable System, Australia-Papua New Guinea cable, CSCS, PPC-1, Gondwana-1, SCCN, Hawaiki, TGA, Basslink, Bass Strait-1, Bass Strait-2, JGA-S, with links to other Australian cities, New Zealand and many countries in southeast Asia, US and Europe; the H2 Cable, AJC, Telstra Endeavor, Southern Cross NEXT with links to Japan, Hong Kong, and other Pacific Ocean countries as well as the US; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat (4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean), 2 Inmarsat, 2 Globalstar, 5 other (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) runs multiple national and local radio networks and TV stations, as well as Australia Network, a TV service that broadcasts throughout the Asia-Pacific region and is the main public broadcaster; Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a second large public broadcaster, operates radio and TV networks broadcasting in multiple languages; several large national commercial TV networks, a large number of local commercial TV stations, and hundreds of commercial radio stations are accessible; cable and satellite systems are available

Internet users

total: 22.82 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 86.55% (2019 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 8,937,550 (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 35.05 (2020 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 25 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 583

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 75,667,645 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 2,027,640,000 mt-km (2018)


total: 418 (2020)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 349

over 3,047 m: 11

2,438 to 3,047 m: 14

1,524 to 2,437 m: 155

914 to 1,523 m: 155

under 914 m: 14 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 131

1,524 to 2,437 m: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 101

under 914 m: 14 (2013)


1 (2013)


637 km condensate/gas, 30054 km gas, 240 km liquid petroleum gas, 3609 km oil, 110 km oil/gas/water, 72 km refined products (2013)


total: 33,343 km (2015)

standard gauge: 17,446 km 1.435-m gauge (650 km electrified) (2015)

narrow gauge: 12,318 km 1.067-m gauge (2,075.5 km electrified) (2015)

broad gauge: 3,247 km 1.600-m gauge (372 km electrified) (2015)


total: 873,573 km (2015)

urban: 145,928 km (2015)

non-urban: 727,645 km (2015)


2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling River systems) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 581

by type: bulk carrier 2, general cargo 76, oil tanker 7, other 496 (2021)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s):
Indian Ocean:
Adelaide, Darwin, Fremantle, Geelong, Melbourne
Pacific Ocean: Brisbane, Cairns, Gladstone, Hobart, Newcastle, Port Port Kembla, Sydney

container port(s) (TEUs): Melbourne (2,967,315), Sydney (2,572,714) (2019)

LNG terminal(s) (export): Australia Pacific, Barrow Island, Burrup (Pluto), Curtis Island, Darwin, Karratha, Bladin Point (Ichthys), Gladstone, Prelude (offshore FLNG), Wheatstone

dry bulk cargo port(s): Dampier (iron ore), Dalrymple Bay (coal), Hay Point (coal), Port Hedland (iron ore), Port Walcott (iron ore)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Australian Defense Force (ADF): Australian Army (includes Special Operations Command), Royal Australian Navy (includes Naval Aviation Force), Royal Australian Air Force (2021)

Military expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2021 est.)

2.2% of GDP (2020)

1.9% of GDP (2019)

1.9% of GDP (2018)

2% of GDP (2017)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Australian Defense Force has approximately 59,000 total active troops (29,000 Army; 15,000 Navy; 15,000 Air Force) (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Australian military's inventory includes a mix of domestically-produced and imported Western (mostly US-origin, particularly aircraft) weapons systems; since 2015, the US is the largest supplier of arms; the Australian defense industry produces a variety of land and sea weapons platforms; the defense industry also participates in joint development and production ventures with other Western countries, including the US and Canada (2021)

Military deployments

approximately 700 Middle East (2021)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary military service (with parental consent); no conscription (abolished 1973); women allowed to serve in all roles, including combat arms since 2013 (2021)

note - in 2019-2020, women comprised about 19% of the ADF

Military - note

Australia has been part of the Australia, New Zealand, and US Security (ANZUS) Treaty since 1951; Australia and the US signed an agreement in 2014 that allowed for closer bi-lateral defense and security cooperation, including annual rotations of US Marines and enhanced rotations of US Air Force aircraft to Australia; Australia has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation; Australian military forces often train with US forces; Australian and US forces first fought together in France in 1918 at the Battle of Hamel, and have fought together in every major US conflict since

Australia has long-standing defense and security ties to the UK, including a Defense and Security Cooperation Treaty signed in 2013; in 2020, Australia and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the building of a next generation of frigates for their respective navies; the Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) is their premier bilateral forum on foreign policy, defense, and security issues

in 2021, Australia, the UK, and the US announced an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” which would build on existing bilateral ties, including deeper integration of defense and security-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains, as well as deeper cooperation on a range of defense and security capabilities; the first initiative under AUKUS was a commitment to support Australia in acquiring conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy

since the 1990s, Australia has deployed more than 30,000 personnel on nearly 100 UN and coalition military operations, including in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, and East Timor


Terrorist group(s)

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

In 2007, Australia and Timor-Leste agreed to a 50-year development zone and revenue sharing arrangement and deferred a maritime boundary; Australia asserts land and maritime claims to Antarctica; Australia's 2004 submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf extends its continental margins over 3.37 million square kilometers, expanding its seabed roughly 30 percent beyond its claimed EEZ; all borders between Indonesia and Australia have been agreed upon bilaterally, but a 1997 treaty that would settle the last of their maritime and EEZ boundary has yet to be ratified by Indonesia's legislature; Indonesian groups challenge Australia's claim to Ashmore Reef; Australia closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 12,606 (Iran), 10,659 (Afghanistan), 5,416 (Pakistan) (2020)

stateless persons: 5,221 (2020)

Illicit drugs

Tasmania is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines