- Country name : Australia
- Official name : Commonwealth of Australia
- System of government : Federal-state system recognizing the British monarch as sovereign.
- National anthem :
- Area : 7 686 850 km²
- Capital : Canberra
- Border countries : island located between the Indian ocean and the South Pacific.
- Population : 19,5 millions (2002)
- Language(s) : English, native languages
- Religions : Anglican (26,1%), Roman Catholic (26%), other Christian (24,3), other (23,7%)
>Australia is one of the leading industrialized countries and enjoys one of the world's highest standards of living. Agriculture, mining and tourism play a central role in the economy.
>Livestock-raising and crop-farming are the main agricultural sectors. Australia is a major exporter of wheat, meat, dairy products and wool.
>The country is self-sufficient in most minerals of economic significance and in several cases is among the world's leading producers ( coal, oil, natural gas, gold, iron…).
>Australia is highly industrialized, and manufactured goods account for most of the gross domestic product. Its chief industries include mining, food processing, and the manufacture of industrial and transportation equipment.
>Tourism is now one of the most dynamic sectors of the Australian economy. It has grown very rapidly since 1970. The service sector is more important.
>At least 40,000 B.C. : the first inhabitants of Australia were the Aborigines, who migrated there from Southeast Asia.
>16th-17th cent. A.D. : Spanish and Dutch explorers sailed in the area of the Australian coasts.
>1770 : Captain James Cook landed on the eastern coast, claimed the region for Great Britain and named it South New Wales.
>1788 : British Navy captain Arthur Philips founded a penal settlement at Sidney.
>19th cent. : Matthew Flinders, a naval officer, was the first to circumnavigate the continent from 1801 to 1803 and to propose that " Australia " should be the continent's name. New settlements were established but a great part of the territory kept unexplored. The Aborigines were treated badly and steadily reduced in number (conflicts with settlers, starvations, diseases…).
>The colonies became states and in 1901 federated into the Commonwealth of Australia.
>1911 : Canberra, capital of the new federal state, was founded.
>Australia fought alongside Britain in World War I and World War II. The heavy casualties help cement a sense of identity in the young nation.
>1967 : A national referendum supports granting Aborigines full citizenship.
>The question of Aboriginal land rights is one of the principal issues that Australia had to face in the 80s and 90s.
>1999 : A vast majority of Australians rejected a referendum that would have ended Australia's formal allegiance to the British Crown.
>2000 : Australia hosts the Olympic Games in Sidney.