Population: 21,262,641 (July 2009 est.)
Religions: Catholic 25.8%, Anglican 18.7%, Uniting Church 5.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 3%, Eastern Orthodox 2.7%, other Christian 7.9%, Buddhist 2.1%, Muslim 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 11.3%, none 18.7% (2006 Census).
Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.
Government: Federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm. Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II (since Feb. 6, 1952), represented by Governor General Quentin Bryce (since Sept. 5, 2008); head of government: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (since Dec. 3, 2007).
Economy: Australia has an enviable, strong economy with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Emphasis on reforms, low inflation, a housing market boom, and growing ties with China have been key factors over the course of the economy’s 17 solid years of expansion. Robust business and consumer confidence and high export prices for raw materials and agricultural products fueled the economy in recent years, particularly in mining states. Drought, robust import demand, and a strong currency pushed the trade deficit up, however, while infrastructure bottlenecks and a tight labor market constrained growth in export volumes and stoked inflation through mid-2008. The unwinding of the yen-based carry trade in late 2008 has contributed to a weakening of the Australian dollar. Tight global liquidity has challenged Australia’s banking sector, which relies heavily on international wholesale markets for funding. The economy remains relatively healthy despite falling export commodity prices. The government plans to counter slowing growth in 2009 with fiscal stimulus efforts.
GDP per capita: $38,100 (2008 est.); Inflation: 4.7% (2008 est.); unemployment 4.5% (2008 est.).
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD): 1.247 AUD equals 1 U.S. dollar (July 16, 2009).
Exports: $178.9 billion (2008 est.): coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment.
Imports: $187.2 billion (2008 est.): machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products.
Major crops/agricultural products: Wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry.
Agriculture: 2.5% of GDP and 3.6% of the labor force.
Internet: Code. .au; 11.134 million (2008) hosts and 11.24 million (2007) users.
Source: CIA World Factbook