Country of the World Australia

About the country Australia, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: An island-continent southeast of Asia, Australia lies between the Pacific Ocean on the east and Indian Ocean on the west. The varied terrain ranges from the low-lying coastal rim to the several 1,000-ft. peaks in the east to the dry plateau which dominates the west.

Size: 2,967,892 sq. mi. (7,686,849 sq. km.), about the size of the 48 coterminous states of the U.S.

Population: 14.1 million. Language: English.

Who Rules: The bicameral Federal Parliament, composed of the 64-member Senate and the 127-member House of Representatives. Technically, executive power is vested in the governor-general, an agent of Queen Elizabeth II.

Who REALLY Rules: American, British, and Japanese corporations exert strong pressure on the Australian government through their control of a large segment of the country's heavy industry, including auto manufacturing, mining, oil refining, and drug manufacturing. On the other hand, the single most powerful institution in Australia is the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). Composed of 305 unions, the ACTU has a membership of 2.5 million--half of all Australia's workers. Through political endorsements and block voting, the ACTU can control elections, so that politicians in office must always be receptive to its demands.

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