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Australia Country Profile

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Australia at a Glance

Location:Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean
Climate:generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
Terrain:mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
Resources:bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Hazards:cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
Population:21,262,641 (July 2009 est.)




A Brief Profile of Australia

Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 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 in the name of Great Britain. 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, especially in the Pacific. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include climate-change issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and more frequent droughts, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.






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