Lying southeast of Asia, between the Pacific and Indian oceans, Australia, the world's smallest continent, is almost completely surrounded by ocean expanses. Australia is slightly smaller than the United States, with a total area of 7,686,850 sq km (2,967,909 sq mi). The five mainland states are New South Wales, 801,600 sq km (309,500 sq mi); Queensland, 1,727,200 sq km (666,900 sq mi); South Australia, 984,000 sq km (379,900 sq mi); Victoria, 227,600 sq km (87,900 sq mi); and Western Australia, 2,525,500 sq km (975,100 sq mi). The island state of Tasmania has an area of 67,800 sq km (26,200 sq mi); the Northern Territory, 1,346,200 sq km (519,800 sq mi); and the Australian Capital Territory, 2,400 sq km (900 sq mi). The country, including Tasmania, extends about 4,000 km (2,500 mi) E–W and 3,180 km (1,980 mi) N–S.

Commonwealth of Australia

CAPITAL : Canberra

FLAG : The flag has three main features: the red, white, and blue Union Jack in the upper left quarter, indicating Australia's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations; the white five-star Southern Cross in the right half; and the white seven-pointed federal star below the Union Jack. The flag has a blue background. Of the five stars of the Southern Cross, four have seven points and one has five points.

ANTHEM : God Save the Queen is reserved for regal and state occasions and whenever singing is appropriate; the national tune is Advance Australia Fair.

MONETARY UNIT : The Australian dollar (A$) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 and 2 dollars, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. A$1 = US$0.6173 (US$1 = A$1.62) as of May 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Metric weights and measures are used. The Australian proof gallon equals1.37 US proof gallons.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Australia Day, last Monday in January; Anzac Day, 25 April; Queen's Birthday, second Monday in June; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Numerous state holidays also are observed. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Saturday, and Easter Monday.

TIME : Western Australia, 8 PM = noon GMT; South Australia and Northern Territory, 9:30 PM; Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, 10 PM. Summer time is 1 hour later in all states except Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.


Fishing is relatively unimportant, even though the Australian Fishing Zone is the third largest in the world. Even with a low per capita fish consumption, Australia must import about half its normal requirements. Pearl and other shell fishing are relatively significant. The 2000 catch of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks totaled 211,391 tons, 99% from marine waters. Exports of fishery products in 2000 were valued at $1 billion.


According to 2001 national census figures, there were about 7,810,352 dwellings in the nation. About 90.5% were occupied private dwellings. Central heating, formerly available only in the most modern and expensive homes and apartments, is now generally available in the coldest areas of the country. Most apartments and houses are equipped with hot-water service, refrigeration, and indoor bath and toilet facilities.

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