Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the largest island but smallest continent in the world. In land area, Australia is the sixth largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America and Brazil. However, Australia has a relatively small population. Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth.
Australia is an independent Western democracy with a population of more than 22 million. It is one of the world’s most urbanised countries, with about 70% of the population living in the 10 largest cities. Most of the population is concentrated along the eastern seaboard and the south-eastern corner of the continent.
Australia’s lifestyle reflects its mainly Western origins, but Australia is also a multicultural society which has been enriched by over six million settlers from almost 200 nations. Four out of ten Australians are migrants or the first-generation children of migrants, half of them from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people totalled 410 003 at the last census, nearly 2.2 per cent of the population. Two thirds of the indigenous people live in towns and cities. Many others live in rural and remote areas, and some still have a broadly traditional way of life. It is generally thought that Aboriginal people began living on the continent 50,000 to 60 000 years ago, and some authorities believe their occupation may date back 100,000 years.
Australia has had one of the most outstanding economies of the world in recent years, with high growth, low-inflation, low interest rate economy, it is more vibrant than ever before. There is an efficient government sector, a flexible labour market and a very competitive business sector.
With its abundant physical resources, Australia has enjoyed a high standard of living since the nineteenth century. It has made a comparatively large investment in social infrastructure (including education, training, health and transport).
Australia's culturally diverse society includes its Indigenous peoples and settlers from countries all around the world.
Immigration is an important feature of Australian society. Since 1945, over six million people from 230 countries have come to Australia, making Australia one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Migrants have made a major contribution to shaping modern Australia. People born overseas make up almost one quarter of the total population.
The Federal Government sets immigration intake numbers on a yearly basis. Australia's immigration policies are non-discriminatory and all migrating applicants must meet the same selection criteria.
The Australian National Flag was first flown on 3 September 1901 over the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The date is still celebrated as ‘Australian National Flag Day’. Today, the National Flag is a symbol of the Australian identity and serves as an important part of almost all our national events.
Symbols within the Australian Flag design
The colours and symbols within the Australian Flag have great significance, there are three primary elements;
The Union Jack – The presence of the Union Jack in the upper most quadrant of Australia’s Flag is an acknowledgment of Australia’s connection and history with the United Kingdom.
The Southern Cross – Located in the second and fourth quarter (right hand side), the Southern Cross is a constellation of five stars that is a prominent feature of the night sky and only visible in the southern hemisphere. It is a significant navigational feature and intended to represent Australia’s geographical location.
The Commonwealth Star – This large seven point star is placed centrally in the third quarter of the flag. The seven points denote the six states of Australia and the combined territories of the Commonwealth. The seventh point was an addition eight years after the original in 1909.