As of December 2012 Australia' s population has almost reached 23 million.
For an up to date estimate please see The Australian Bureau of Statistics Population Clock.
The A.B.S estimate that the overall Australian population increases by 1 person every 1 minute and 24 seconds.
There has been an increase in births and also in the number of migrants being granted permanent residency.
Australia, located in the Southern Hemisphere and sitting astride the Tropic of Capricorn is 4000 Km (~2500 miles) from north to south and extends almost 3150 Km (~2000 miles) from east to west, covering three time zones.
At almost 7700000 sq. Km (almost 3000000 sq. miles) Australia is the sixth largest country and the smallest continent in the world.
To put its size into perspective, the country is over 20 times the size of the United Kingdom and the (almost) 3000 km drive from Melbourne, in the south, to Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland, will take about 35 hours CONTINUOUS driving, not allowing for stops.
Six AUstralian States
The state is in the east of Australia, lies entirely south of the Tropic of Capricorn and borders Queensland (to its north) South Australia (to the west) and Victoria (to its south).
The New South Wales coastline extends almost 2000 km ( about 1200 miles) from the Victorian border north to the Gold Coast, the region which crosses the border with Queensland.
The state is divided east to west by the Great Dividing Range (which originate in far north Queensland) which separates the fertile regions bordering the coast from the areas of outback which transition into semi arid desert further to the west. More....
The state is the second largest, occupying the north east of the country, and borders New South Wales (to the south), Northern Territory (to the west) and South Australia (to the south west).
Queensland's coastline of nearly 7500 Km (nearly 4600 miles) stretches from the Gold Coast to the tip of Cape York Peninsula.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest marine park and stretches over 3000km (1800 miles) along the Queensland coast from Lady Elliot Island, off the coast of Bundaberg, up past the tip of Cape York. It is one of the most visited regions in Australia
Queensland is traversed by The Tropic of Capricorn which divides the state into tropical and sub-tropical regions; the southern third (approximately) being sub tropical. More....
The state is located in central to south Australia and is unique in that it borders all the other mainland states as well as the Northern Territory.
The coastline extends 3700 Km (almost 2300 miles) from the border with Victoria to the border with Western Australia and the start of The Nullarbor Plain.
South Australia has a dry, Mediterranean type climate and regions of fertile well drained volcanic soils (such as The Coonawarra 's famed Terra Rosa).
This isideal for grape cultivation and two of the reasons why some of the world's best wines are currently being produced in South Australia. More....
Tasmania is an island state located to the south of mainland Australia, 240 Km (~ 150 miles) across Bass Strait from Victoria.
The island is the smallest Australian state with a coastline of 3200 Km and a total north south distance of approximately 300 Km (~190 miles).
Tasmania is lush with a rugged mountainous terrain, peppered with lakes, rivers, waterfalls and extensive areas of forest and wilderness.
The state has a rich nautical history and is also renown for its food and drink produce which includes salmon, beer, cheeses and other dairy produce. More....
The state occupies a position at the south east of Australia and is bordered by New South Wales (to the north) and South Australia (to the west).
Victoria is the smallest mainland state and also has the smallest coastal length of all states with approximately 1800 Km (1100 miles) of often spectacular coastline which includes the world famous Great Ocean Drive.
This is the largest state in Australia and accounts for nearly one third of the total land area of the continent.
As the name implies, Western Australia lies to the west and borders Northern Territory ( to the north east) and South Australia (to the south east).
The vast coastline (again accounting for over a third of the total Australian Coast extends almost 13000 Km (~8000 miles) from near Eucla and the border with South Australia round to the top of the continent to the Kimberley region and the border with the Northern Territory.
Western Australia has lush fertile areas to the south west, vast tracts of interior desert and mountainous regions such as the Kimberley.
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Although this is an often used cliche, Australia is truly a country of contrasts.
It has dynamic, thriving cities, areas of outstanding natural beauty and vast, extremely remote, un-populated and isolated regions; most Australians live 50 Km ( ~30 miles) or less from the coast and extensive parts of the interior are largely un-populated.
Please be aware that travel through some remote or isolated parts of Australia can be hazardous and should not be undertaken by the inexperienced or unprepared.
States And Territories
The country is divided into six states, two mainland territories and several external territories and dependencies. Australia comprises of the mainland, the island of Tasmania and a multitude of smaller off shore islands such as The Whitsunday's.
As Australia is an independent member of the British Commonwealth, the head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She is represented in the country by The Governor General, currently Ms Quentin Bryce.
Australia, which became an independent member of the Commonwealth in 1901, has a Federal Government based in the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T) and the head of the government is the Prime Minister, currently Kevin Rudd.
The states also have their own governments headed by “Premiers" to coordinate issues and policies at state level. In addition there are also many local governments concerned with the various local level issues.
The ACT was originally part of New South Wales.
In the early 1900's the land was claimed by the Australian Commonwealth to be used as the location for the Federal Capital and the Australian Parliament.
Canberra is about 300 Km (~180 miles) south west from Sydney.
Canberra, an aboriginal word for 'Meeting Place' is home to embassies, galleries, theatres, museums, fine restaurants, government administrative centres and offices, shopping centres, hotels, night clubs and of course the Australian Federal Parliament which gives the illusion it has been built beneath a grass mound. More....
Northern Territory (NT) has a population of around 0.2 million with approximately 80000 living in the state capital (and Australia's only Tropical capital), Darwin.
The territory occupies a vast central to northern tract of Australia and is bordered by Queensland (to the east), South Australia (to the south) and Western Australia (to the west).
The Northern Territories remote coastline to the continents north extends over 6000 Km (~3800 miles) from the "Gulf Country" border with Queensland to the border with Western Australia, near The Kimberleys.
The Northern Territory is often perceived as being entirely arid and desert like which although true for much of the interior, contrasts with the fertile wetlands at the' Top End' which includes Darwin, Jabiru and Katherine .
Some of the Australian External territories include :
Australian Antarctic Territory, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island