Australia is a unique and diverse country in every way - in climate, culture, population, geography, and history. Australia is an active member and supporter of the Commonwealth and values its role in advancing the interests of developing countries and small states in world affairs.
Aboriginal people were thought to have arrived by boat from South East Asia during the last Ice Age, at least 50,000 years ago. At the time of European discovery and settlement, up to one million Aboriginal people lived across the continent as hunters and gatherers. They were scattered in 300 clans and spoke 250 languages and 700 dialects. Each clan had a spiritual connection with a specific piece of land. However, they also travelled widely to trade, find water and seasonal produce and for ritual and totemic gatherings.
Learn more about Australia's History
Australian culture is founded on stories of battlers, bushrangers, brave soldiers, sporting heroes, working heroes and plucky migrants. It’s all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony. Today Australia also defines itself by its Aboriginal heritage, vibrant mix of cultures, innovative ideas and a thriving arts scene.
Learn more about Australia's Culture
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. It's about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 per cent larger than Europe, but has the lowest population density in the world - only two people per square kilometre.
Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the world’s smallest, flattest continent.
Australia consists of eight states and territories.
Read more Australian Facts
As of February 2010, Australia's population is roughly 22 million people. The most populous states are New South Wales and Victoria, with their respective capitals, Sydney and Melbourne, the largest cities in Australia.
Australia's population is concentrated along the coastal region of Australia from Adelaide to Cairns, with a small concentration around Perth, Western Australia. The centre of Australia is sparsely populated.
The majority of Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year.
The northern states of Australia are typically warm all the time, with the southern states experiencing cool winters but rarely sub-zero temperatures.
Snow falls on the higher mountains during the winter months, enabling skiing in southern New South Wales and Victorian ski resorts, as well as the smaller resorts in Australia's island state, Tasmania.
Australia was the first country in the world to have a complete system of bank notes made from plastic (polymer). These notes provide much greater security against counterfeiting. They also last four times as long as conventional paper (fibrous) notes.
Australia’s currency comprises coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations; and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar denominations.
Current exchange rates as listed by the Reserve Bank of Australia.