The Commonwealth of Australia is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. Its legal system is common law based on English common law. Australia’s different administrative divisions are comprised of six states and two territories. They include New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, and Victoria. Dependent areas include Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Norfolk Island.
Executive Branch of Government
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, is the Chief of State. The Head of Government is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party or coalition, and he or she selects a cabinet from members of parliament. The monarch appoints the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister. One duty of the governor general is to swear in the prime minister and the cabinet members.
Legislative Branch of Government
The legislative branch has a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate has 76 seats. There are 12, multi-seat constituencies from each state and two from each territory. Senators’ terms are for six years, with elections for one-half of the Senate occurring every three years. The House of
Representatives has 150, single-seat constituencies, each having a 3-year term.
Judicial Branch of Government
The highest court of the land is the High Court of Australia. It has seven justices including the chief justice. The governor general appoints justices to life terms with mandatory retirement at age 70. In addition, there are subordinate courts at the federal, state, and territorial levels.
People and Society
The estimated population of Australia in July 2017 was 23.2 million persons. The ethnic demographics (2011 estimate) were 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%), Australian aboriginal (0.5%), unspecified (5.4%), and other (15.3%).
Spoken languages (2011 estimate) were English (76.8%), Mandarin (1.6%), Italian (1.4%), Arabic (1.3%), Greek (1.2%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.1%), other (10.4%), and unspecified (5%).
Religious makeup, per 2016 estimates, was Protestant (23.1%), Roman Catholic (22.6%), other Christian (4.2%), Muslim (2.6%), Buddhist (2.4%), Orthodox (2.3%), Hindu (1.9%), other (1.3%), none (30.1%), and unspecified (9.5%).
The following economic estimates are from 2016 data. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $1.188 trillion ($48,700 per capita), and GDP by sector of origin was agriculture (3.6%), industry (26.5%), and services (69.9%). Typical agricultural products include barley, cattle, fruits, poultry, sheep, sugarcane, and wheat. Major industries are chemicals, food processing, industrial and transportation equipment, mining, and steel. Unemployment was 5.7%.
Exports were $191.7 billion, and important export commodities were alumina, coal, gold, iron ore, machinery, and transport equipment, meat, wheat, and wool. Major export partners include China (30.5%), Japan (12.4%), US (6.5%), and South Korea (6.1%).
Imports were $198.5 billion, and notable imported commodities were computers and office machines, crude oil and petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, and telecommunication equipment and parts. The principal import partners were China (23.4%), US (11.5%), Japan (7.8%), Thailand (5.6%), Germany (5.3%), and South Korea (4.3%).
An Australian Tour
Australia is a large and diverse country. Therefore, any visit should include a tour of the entire country. Here are the top attractions to see in Australia:
A Visit to Sydney – Enjoy amazing views of Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Then, visit the Fish Market, the fashionable and affluent Eastern Suburbs, and Bondi Beach. Take a day trip to nearby wildlife parks and the Blue Mountains.
- A Visit to Uluru and the Outback – Tourists can experience outback excursions to living cultural landscapes and iconic natural attractions including Ayers Rock.
- Visit Cairns on the Northeastern Coast – Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Forest, and wild hinterlands.
- Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea – A great venue for sailing, diving, snorkeling, watersports, or relaxing at the luxury resorts.
- A Visit to Melbourne – Melbourne is the cultural heart of Australia with Victorian architecture, green parks, galleries and museums, theaters, nightlife, Australian Rules football, cricket, horse racing, and motorsports.
- A Visit to Tasmania – See the natural wonders and attractions of this island state to the south of the mainland. Visit a Tasmanian devil enclosure, try hiking, boating, or sightseeing cruises, and sample Tasmanian cuisine.
- A Visit to Kangaroo Island – Kangaroo Island is south of the mainland. It has abundant wildlife and natural attractions. Witness the sea lions at Seal Beach, hike along the coast, and visit the wilderness of Flinders Chase National Park.
- A Visit to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory – The Park is in the Alligator Rivers Region. It is 19,804 km2 in size, and it surrounds the Ranger Uranium Mine. Aboriginal people have occupied the area for over 40,000 years, and it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.