Australia: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Australia

AUSTRALIA

NITTY GRITTY

Location--Southeast of Asia between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

How Created--The oldest continent, but last to be discovered by Europeans. Claimed for Britain in 1770, colonization began in 1788 with English convicts (25% female). The Commonwealth includes the entire continent plus Tasmania, an island off the southeast coast of the mainland. The various colonies were federated in 1901. (Has some small island dependencies, 2.5 million sq. mi. in Antarctica, and retains advisory interest in Papua New Guinea, a self-administering former trust territory.)

Size--Mainland: 2,941,526 sq. mi.; Tasmania: 26,383 sq. mi. Total: 2,967,909 sq. mi. (7,686,849 sq. km.), almost equal to the conterminous States of the U.S.

Population--13,800,000: British, 95.6%; Italian, 1.3%; Greek, 0.9%; other, 2.2% including 50,000 fullblooded Aborigines. 31.2% Church of England, 27% Roman Catholic, 8.6% Methodist, 8.1% Presbyterian, 11.3% other Christian, 13.8% non-Christian or non-religious.

Who Rules-A Federal Parliament consisting of a 125-member House of Representatives and a 60-member Senate. A Cabinet is formed from the majority party with one minister serving as Prime Minister. The Queen's representative, the governor-general, has largely ceremonial duties.

Who REALLY Rules--Trade unions and foreign investors wield much power. British, American, and Japanese interests have considerable economic ownership and control. Foreign money is behind: 88% of auto manufacture and assembly (primarily GM); 80% of all oil and mineral operations; 72% of nonferrous metal processing; 75% of the drug and toiletry industry.

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