All About Australia Map

Australia's biggest attraction is its natural beauty. The landscape varies from endless sunbaked horizons to dense tropical rainforest to chilly southern beaches. Scattered along the coasts, its cities blend a European enthusiasm for art and food with a laid-back love of sport and the outdoors.

Visitors expecting to see an opera in Sydney one night and meet Crocodile Dundee the next will have to re-think their grasp of geography in this huge country. It is this sheer vastness that gives Australia - and its diverse population - much of its character.

In cities, visitors will experience a blur of fashion-festooned boutiques and plate-clattering restaurants, then lose themselves in a long fluid moment inside a beer or wine glass. In the interior, they might be harangued by the thump of rocks under their 4WD, only to be transfixed by a slow, silent swirl of outback dust. Around the coast, they'll take an endless breath in the depths of a rainforest, then slowly realise they have an entire beach to themselves.

Full country name: Commonwealth of Australia
Area: 7.68 million sq km
Population: 19.5 million
Capital City: Canberra
People: 92% Caucasian, 7% Asian, 1% Aboriginal
Language: English
Religion: 75% Christian, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 0.5% Jewish
Government: independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Head of State: Governor General Michael Jeffery
Head of Government: Prime Minister John Howard

GDP: US$418 billion
GDP per capita: US$22,000
Annual Growth: 4%
Inflation: 2%
Major Industries: Minerals, oil, coal, gold, wool, cereals, meat, tourism
Major Trading Partners: Japan, ASEAN countries, South Korea, China, New Zealand, USA, EU
Member of EU: No