Introduction :: Australia


Prehistoric settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia at least 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the Allied effort in World Wars I and II.

In recent decades, Australia has become an internationally competitive, advanced market economy due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s and its location in one of the fastest growing regions of the world economy. Long-term concerns include an aging population, pressure on infrastructure, and environmental issues such as floods, droughts, and bushfires. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, making it particularly vulnerable to the challenges of climate change. Australia is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity, and a great number of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else in the world.

Geography :: Australia


Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean

Geographic coordinates

27 00 S, 133 00 E

Map references



total: 7,741,220 sq km

land: 7,682,300 sq km

water: 58,920 sq km

note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

Land boundaries

0 km


25,760 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north


mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast


mean elevation: 330 m

lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m

highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,228 m

Natural resources

alumina, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, rare earth elements, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum; note – Australia is the world’s largest net exporter of coal accounting for 29% of global coal exports

Land use

agricultural land: 52.9% (2016 est.)

arable land: 11.6% (2016 est.) /** permanent crops:** 0.09% (2016 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 88.4% (2016 est.)

forest: 16.2% (2016 est.)

other: 30.9% (2016 est.)

Irrigated land

25,460 sq km (2014)

Population distribution

population is primarily located on the periphery, with the highest concentration of people residing in the east and southeast; a secondary population center is located in and around Perth in the west; of the States and Territories, New South Wales has, by far, the largest population; the interior, or “outback”, has a very sparse population

Natural hazards

cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires

volcanism: volcanic activity on Heard and McDonald Islands

Environment – current issues

soil erosion from overgrazing, deforestation, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; limited natural freshwater resources; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; drought, desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; disruption of the fragile ecosystem has resulted in significant floral extinctions; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; overfishing, pollution, and invasive species are also problems

Environment – international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note

note 1: world’s smallest continent but sixth-largest country; the largest country in Oceania, the largest country entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, and the largest country without land borders; the only continent without glaciers; the invigorating sea breeze known as the “Fremantle Doctor” affects the city of Perth on the west coast and is one of the most consistent winds in the world

note 2: the Great Dividing Range that runs along eastern Australia is that continents longest mountain range and the third-longest land-based range in the world; the term “Great Dividing Range” refers to the fact that the mountains form a watershed crest from which all of the rivers of eastern Australia flow east, west, north, and south

People and Society :: Australia


25,466,459 (July 2020 est.)


noun: Australian(s)

adjective: Australian

Ethnic groups

English 25.9%, Australian 25.4%, Irish 7.5%, Scottish 6.4%, Italian 3.3%, German 3.2%, Chinese 3.1%, Indian 1.4%, Greek 1.4%, Dutch 1.2%, other 15.8% (includes Australian aboriginal .5%), unspecified 5.4% (2011 est.)

note: data represent self-identified ancestry, over a third of respondents reported two ancestries


English 72.7%, Mandarin 2.5%, Arabic 1.4%, Cantonese 1.2%, Vietnamese 1.2%, Italian 1.2%, Greek 1%, other 14.8%, unspecified 6.5% (2016 est.)

note: data represent language spoken at home


Protestant 23.1% (Anglican 13.3%, Uniting Church 3.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 2.3%, Baptist 1.5%, Pentecostal 1.1%, Lutheran .7%, other Protestant .5%), Roman Catholic 22.6%, other Christian 4.2%, Muslim 2.6%, Buddhist 2.4%, Orthodox 2.3% (Eastern Orthodox 2.1%, Oriental Orthodox .2%), Hindu 1.9%, other 1.3%, none 30.1%, unspecified 9.6% (2016 est.)

Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.1

youth dependency ratio: 29.9

elderly dependency ratio: 25.1

potential support ratio: 4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 37.5 years

male: 36.5 years

female: 38.5 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.4% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

12.4 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

6.9 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

8.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

population is primarily located on the periphery, with the highest concentration of people residing in the east and southeast; a secondary population center is located in and around Perth in the west; of the States and Territories, New South Wales has, by far, the largest population; the interior, or “outback”, has a very sparse population



Major urban areas – population

4.968 million Melbourne, 4.926 million Sydney, 2.406 million Brisbane, 2.042 million Perth, 1.336 million Adelaide, 457,000 CANBERRA (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth

28.7 years (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

6 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.1 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 82.7 years

male: 80.5 years

female: 85 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.74 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

66.9% (2015/16)

note: percent of women aged 18-45

Drinking water source

improved:** urban:** 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

9.2% (2017)

Physicians density

3.68 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

3.8 beds/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** total:** 100% of population

unimproved:** total:** 0% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

0.1% (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

28,000 (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

<200 (2018 est.)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

29% (2016)

Education expenditures

5.3% of GDP (2016)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 23 years

male: 23 years

female: 23 years (2016)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 11.8%

male: 112.8%

female: 10.7% (2018 est.)

Government :: Australia

Country name

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia

conventional short form: Australia

etymology: the name Australia derives from the Latin “australis” meaning “southern”; the Australian landmass was long referred to as “Terra Australis” or the Southern Land

Government type

federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Canberra

geographic coordinates: 35 16 S, 149 08 E

time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in April

note: Australia has four time zones, including Lord Howe Island (UTC+10:30) etymolgy: the name is claimed to derive from either Kambera or Camberry, which are names corrupted from the original native designation for the area “Nganbra” or “Nganbira”

Administrative divisions

6 states and 2 territories; Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia

Dependent areas

Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island


1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)

National holiday

Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorates the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)


history: approved in a series of referenda from 1898 through 1900 and became law 9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires approval of a referendum bill by absolute majority vote in both houses of Parliament, approval in a referendum by a majority of voters in at least four states and in the territories, and Royal Assent; proposals that would reduce a states representation in either house or change a states boundaries require that states approval prior to Royal Assent; amended several times, last in 1977

Legal system

common law system based on the English model

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 4 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General David HURLEY (since 1 July 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Scott MORRISON (since 24 August 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister from among members of Parliament and sworn in by the governor general

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Federal Parliament consists of:

Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the 6 states and 2 each from the 2 mainland territories; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 6-year terms with one-half of state membership renewed every 3 years and territory membership renewed every 3 years)
House of Representatives (151 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority preferential vote; members serve terms of up to 3 years)
Senate – last held on 18 May 2019 (next to be held in 2022)
House of Representatives – last held on 18 May 2019 (next to be held in 2022)
election results:
Senate – percent of vote by party – Liberal/National coalition 37.99%, ALP 28.79%, The Greens 10.19%, One Nation 5.4%, Centre Alliance .19%, Lambie Network .21%, other 17.23%; seats by party – Liberal/National coalition 35, ALP 26, The Greens 9, One Nation 2, Centre Alliance 2, Lambie Network 1, independents 1
House of Representatives – percent of vote by party – Liberal/National coalition 41.4%, ALP 33.3%, The Greens 10.4%, Katter’s Australian Party .49%, Centre Alliance .33%, independents 3.37%, other 10.63%; seats by party – Liberal/National Coalition 77, ALP 68, The Greens 1, Katter’s Australian Party 1, Centre Alliance 1, independent 3

Judicial branch

highest courts: High Court of Australia (consists of 7 justices, including the chief justice); note – each of the 6 states, 2 territories, and Norfolk Island has a Supreme Court; the High Court is the final appellate court beyond the state and territory supreme courts

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor-general in council for life with mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts:* *at the federal level: Federal Court; Federal Magistrates’ Courts of Australia; Family Court; *at the state and territory level:*** Local Court – New South Wales; Magistrates’ Courts Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory; District Courts New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia; County Court Victoria; Family Court Western Australia; Court of Petty Sessions Norfolk Island

Political parties and leaders

Australian Greens Party [Adam BANDT]
Australian Labor Party or ALP [Anthony ALBANESE]
Country Liberal Party or CLP [Gary HIGGINS]
Liberal National Party of Queensland or LNP [Deborah FRECKLINGTON]
Liberal Party of Australia [Scott MORRISON]
The Nationals [Michael MCCORMACK]
Centre Alliance [Nick XENOPHON]
Pauline Hansons One Nation [Pauline HANSON]

International organization participation

ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CD, CP, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-20, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF, SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador Arthur SINODINOS (since 6 February 2020)
chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: 1 797-3000

FAX: 1 797-3168
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Arthur B. CULVAHOUSE (since 19 February 2019)

telephone: 61 6214-5600

embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600

mailing address: APO AP 96549

FAX: 61 6214-5970
consulate(s) general: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant known as the Commonwealth or Federation Star, representing the federation of the colonies of Australia in 1901; the star depicts one point for each of the six original states and one representing all of Australia’s internal and external territories; on the fly half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small, five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars

National symbol(s)

Commonwealth Star (seven-pointed Star of Federation), golden wattle tree (Acacia pycnantha Benth), kangaroo, emu; national colors: green, gold

National anthem


Economy :: Australia

Economy – overview

Australia is an open market with minimal restrictions on imports of goods and services. The process of opening up has increased productivity, stimulated growth, and made the economy more flexible and dynamic. Australia plays an active role in the WTO, APEC, the G20, and other trade forums. Australias free trade agreement (FTA) with China entered into force in 2015, adding to existing FTAs with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the US, and a regional FTA with ASEAN and New Zealand. Australia continues to negotiate bilateral agreements with Indonesia, as well as larger agreements with its Pacific neighbors and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and an Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that includes the 10 ASEAN countries and China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and India.

Australia is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Australia’s abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas Project, will significantly expand the resources sector.

For nearly two decades up till 2017, Australia had benefited from a dramatic surge in its terms of trade. As export prices increased faster than import prices, the economy experienced continuous growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system. Australia entered 2018 facing a range of growth constraints, principally driven by the sharp fall in global prices of key export commodities. Demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China is growing at a slower pace and sharp drops in export prices have impacted growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.248 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.221 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.19 trillion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.38 trillion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

2.2% (2017 est.)
2.6% (2016 est.)
2.5% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$50,400 (2017 est.)
$50,100 (2016 est.)
$49,600 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

21% of GDP (2017 est.)
20.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 56.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -21% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 25.3% (2017 est.)

services: 71.2% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry


mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel

Industrial production growth rate

1.4% (2017 est.)

Labor force

12.91 million (2017 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 3.6%

industry: 21.1%

services: 75.3% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.6% (2017 est.)
5.7% (2016 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 25.4% (1994)


revenues: 490 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 496.9 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

35.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

40.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
40.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July – 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2% (2017 est.)
1.3% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

-$36.01 billion (2017 est.)
-$41.45 billion (2016 est.)


$231.6 billion (2017 est.)
$191.7 billion (2016 est.)

Exports – partners

China 33.5%, Japan 14.6%, South Korea 6.6%, India 5%, Hong Kong 4% (2017)

Exports – commodities

iron ore, coal, gold, natural gas, beef, aluminum ores and conc, wheat, meat (excluding beef), wool, alumina, alcohol


$221 billion (2017 est.)
$198.7 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

motor vehicles, refined petroleum, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude petroleum, medicaments, goods vehicles, gold, computers

Imports – partners

China 22.9%, US 10.8%, Japan 7.5%, Thailand 5.1%, Germany 4.9%, South Korea 4.5% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$66.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$55.07 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt – external

$1.714 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.547 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar –
1.311 (2017 est.)
1.3442 (2016 est.)
1.3442 (2015 est.)
1.3291 (2014 est.)
1.1094 (2013 est.)

Energy :: Australia

Electricity access

electrification – total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity – production

243 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

229.4 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

65.56 million kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

72% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

11% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

17% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

284,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

192,500 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Crude oil – imports

341,700 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

1.821 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

462,500 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

1.175 million bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

64,120 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

619,600 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Natural gas – production

105.2 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

45.25 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

67.96 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

5.776 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

1.989 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

439.1 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Australia

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 8.09 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 28.279 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 114 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: excellent domestic and international service; domestic satellite system; significant use of radiotelephone in areas of low population density; rapid growth of mobile telephones; continue to enhance 4G networks while migrating to 5G technologies; 5G connections are predicted to account for around 50 – 60% of total connections by 2025 (2020)

domestic: 33 per 100 fixed-line, 114 per 100 mobile-cellular; more subscribers to mobile services than there are people; 90% of all mobile device sales are now smartphones, growth in mobile traffic brisk (2018)

international: country code – 61; landing points for more than** 20 submarine cables including:** the SeaMeWe-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; the INDIGO-Central, INDIGO West and ASC, North West Cable System, Australia-Papua New Guinea cable, CSCS, PPC-1, Gondwana-1, SCCN, Hawaiki, TGA, Basslink, Bass Strait-1, Bass Strait-2, JGA-S, with links to other Australian cities, New Zealand and many countries in southeast Asia, US and Europe; the H2 Cable, AJC, Telstra Endeavor, Southern Cross NEXT with links to Japan, Hong Kong, and other Pacific Ocean countries as well as the US; satellite earth stations – 10 Intelsat (4 Indian Ocean and 6 Pacific Ocean), 2 Inmarsat, 2 Globalstar, 5 other (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) runs multiple national and local radio networks and TV stations, as well as Australia Network, a TV service that broadcasts throughout the Asia-Pacific region and is the main public broadcaster; Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a second large public broadcaster, operates radio and TV networks broadcasting in multiple languages; several large national commercial TV networks, a large number of local commercial TV stations, and hundreds of commercial radio stations are accessible; cable and satellite systems are available

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 21,419,302

percent of population: 86.55% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 7.64 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 31 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Australia

Military and security forces

Australian Defense Force (ADF): Australian Army (includes Special Operations Command), Royal Australian Navy (includes Naval Aviation Force), Royal Australian Air Force, Joint Operations Command (JOC) (2019)

Military expenditures

1.9% of GDP (2019)
1.9% of GDP (2018)
2% of GDP (2017)
2.1% of GDP (2016)
2% of GDP (2015)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Australian Defense Force has approximately 60,000 total active troops (30,800 Army; 14,700 Navy; 14,300 Air Force) (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Australian military’s inventory includes a mix of domestically-produced and imported Western (mostly US-origin, particularly aircraft) weapons systems; since 2015, the US is the largest supplier of arms, followed by Spain; the Australian defense industry produces a variety of land and sea weapons platforms; the defense industry also participates in joint development and production ventures with other Western countries, including the US and Canada (2019 est.)

Military deployments

200 Afghanistan (NATO); 750 Middle East (June 2020)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary military service (with parental consent); no conscription; women allowed to serve in most combat roles (2018)

Transportation :: Australia

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 25 (2018)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 583

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 75,667,645 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 2,027,640,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

VH (2016)


418 (2020)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 349 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 11 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 14 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 155 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 155 (2017)

under 914 m: 14 (2017)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 131 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 16 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 101 (2013)

under 914 m: 14 (2013)


1 (2013)


637 km condensate/gas, 30054 km gas, 240 km liquid petroleum gas, 3609 km oil, 110 km oil/gas/water, 72 km refined products (2013)


total: 33,343 km (2015)

standard gauge: 17,446 km 1.435-m gauge (650 km electrified) (2015)

narrow gauge: 12,318 km 1.067-m gauge (2,075.5 km electrified) (2015)

broad gauge: 3,247 km 1.600-m gauge (372 km electrified) (2015)


total: 873,573 km (2015)

urban: 145,928 km (2015)

non-urban: 727,645 km (2015)


2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling River systems) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 579

by type: bulk carrier 4general cargo 80, oil tanker 7, other 488 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle, Geelong, Gladstone, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Adelaide, Port Kembla, Sydney

container port(s) (TEUs): Melbourne (2,806,436), Sydney (2,530,122) (2017)
LNG terminal(s) (export): Australia Pacific, Barrow Island, Burrup (Pluto), Curtis Island, Darwin, Karratha, Bladin Point (Ichthys), Gladstone, Prelude (offshore FLNG), Wheatstone
dry bulk cargo port(s): Dampier (iron ore), Dalrymple Bay (coal), Hay Point (coal), Port Hedland (iron ore), Port Walcott (iron ore)

Transnational Issues :: Australia

Disputes – international

In 2007, Australia and Timor-Leste agreed to a 50-year development zone and revenue sharing arrangement and deferred a maritime boundary; Australia asserts land and maritime claims to Antarctica; Australia’s 2004 submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf extends its continental margins over 3.37 million square kilometers, expanding its seabed roughly 30 percent beyond its claimed EEZ; all borders between Indonesia and Australia have been agreed upon bilaterally, but a 1997 treaty that would settle the last of their maritime and EEZ boundary has yet to be ratified by Indonesia’s legislature; Indonesian groups challenge Australia’s claim to Ashmore Reef; Australia closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 11,932 (Afghanistan), 10,702 (Iran), 5,061 (Pakistan) (2018)

stateless persons: 132 (2018)

Illicit drugs

Tasmania is one of the world’s major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines


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