Australia lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans. Its capital, Canberra, is in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) between New South Wales and Victoria. There is one other Territory: the Northern Territory (Darwin) and six States: New South Wales (Sydney), Queensland (Brisbane), South Australia (Adelaide), Victoria (Melbourne), Western Australia (Perth) and the Island of Tasmania (Hobart).


The Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for over forty thousand years. Aborigines and the Torres Straits Islanders originally migrated to Australia from South East Asia.

With the arrival of the Europeans in the eighteenth century many of the Aboriginal people died from unfamiliar diseases brought to the continent by the newcomers. Today, many have abandoned their traditional tribal way of life and live in the towns and cities making up one and a half percent of the population.

After the Second World War the Australian government promoted an immigration programme: over half of the migrants were British; others were Greeks, Germans, Dutch, Italians and Yugoslavs. Today over ninety percent of the population are of European descent; others are from Asia and the Middle East. Over one hundred and fifty nationalities are represented in the population of eighteen million.

Most of the people live in towns and cities on the coast, especially the east and southeast.


English is the national language of Australia. Seventeen percent of the population speak other languages. The Australian government provides special help to increase the learning of Asian languages: Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin.


Australia has a good road and rail infrastructure with eight hundred thousand kilometres of public roads and railways running from all the ports. The country has an excellent telecommunications network. The use of information technology is highly valued; many people have access to the Internet both at home and at work. Investment in computer literacy is seen as crucial to the future of the country.

During the last ten years, the government has restructured the economy for future growth and Australia's full participation in the global economy.

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