Country Focus Data: Australia
May 01, 1998
by Mindy Dake
Located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Australia's capital is Canberra.
Demography: Population 18.3 million, .99% growth rate; English, native languages; Roman Catholic, Anglican and Christianity are major religions.
Geography: Mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in the southeast.
Government: Federal parliamentary state. Chief of State is Queen Elizabeth II; Prime Minister is John Winston Howard.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Primary Industries and Energy is responsible for farm and agricultural policy. The Australian Wheat Board (A.W.B.) handles all wheat exports.
Economy: Traditionally, the Australian economy has relied heavily on the export of products from the agricultural and mining sectors. In recent years this pattern has begun to change. In 1993-94, 61% of total Australian exports were primary agricultural or mineral products, a 6% decrease from the 67% total in 1989-90. Australia looks to boost future growth by placing an emphasis on integrating the Asia/Pacific region, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of current merchandise exports, but which has slipped some because of the financial crisis in Asia.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$22,100 (1995 estimate), 3.3% real growth rate.
Currency: Australian dollar. March 27, 1998 exchange rate: 1.484 Australian dollar per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$51.57 billion (f.o.b., 1995) coal, gold, meat, wool, wheat, ammonia.
Imports: U.S.$57.41 billion (c.i.f., 1995) machinery and transport equipment, computers, oil.
Major agricultural crops/products: Wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruit, cattle, sheep, poultry.
Wheat: In 1995-96, total consumption was 3.6 million tonnes, but that total has since risen to a record high of 4.9 million. Feed wheat consumption during the same time frame has risen to 2.6 million from 1.8 million, also a record high. Barley: Five-year annual production is 5.6 million tonnes; exports, 3.1 million; and total domestic consumption, 2.6 million.
Transportation: Railroads, 38,563 km; 810,264 km of highways, with 283,592 km paved; 8,368 km of waterways; major ports are Kwinana, Geraldton, Geelong.