Australia ( /əˈstreɪljə/), officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent as well as the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.

Capital Canberra
35°18.48′S 149°7.47′E
Largest city Sydney
National language English
Demonym Australian, Aussie
Government Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Monarch Elizabeth II
- Governor-General Quentin Bryce
- Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Legislature Parliament
- Upper house Senate
- Lower house House of Representatives
Independence from the United Kingdom
- Constitution 1 January 1901
- Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931
- Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 9 October 1942 (with effect from 3 September 1939)
- Australia Act 3 March 1986
- Total 7,617,930 km2 (6th)
2,941,299 sq mi
- 2012 estimate 22,899,002 (52nd)
- 2006 census 19,855,288
- Density 2.8/km2 (233rd)
7.3/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
- Total $914.482 billion (18th)
- Per capita $40,234 (12th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
- Total $1.488 trillion (13th)
- Per capita $65,477 (5th)
Gini (2006) 30.5 (medium)
HDI (2011) 0.929 (very high) (2nd)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone various (UTC+8 to +10.5)
- Summer (DST) various[N 3] (UTC+8 to +11.5)
Date formats dd-mm-yyyy
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code AU
Internet TLD .au
Calling code +61

For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system which functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories. The population of 22.9 million is heavily concentrated in the Eastern states and is highly urbanised.

A highly developed country, Australia is the world's 13th-largest economy and has the world's fifth-highest per capita income. Australia's military expenditure is the world's 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the G20, OECD, WTO, APEC, UN, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, and the Pacific Islands Forum.


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