A truly unique land, Australia is the world's sixth largest country and its smallest, flattest continent. It's about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 per cent larger than Europe, but has the lowest population density in the world - only two people per square kilometre.
An intriguing contrast of vast, open landscapes and sophisticated, vibrant cities, Australia is a popular travel destination due to its many tourist attractions, remarkable wildlife and beautiful beaches.
An ancient land
Australia’s Aboriginal people were thought to have arrived here by boat from South East Asia during the last Ice Age, at least 50,000 years ago. At the time of European discovery and settlement, up to one million Aboriginal people lived across the continent as hunters and gatherers. They were scattered in 300 clans and spoke 250 languages and 700 dialects. Each clan had a spiritual connection with a specific piece of land. However, they also travelled widely to trade, find water and seasonal produce and for ritual and totemic gatherings.
In 1770 Captain James Cook chartered the east coast of Australia and claimed it for Britain, which settled the country as a penal colony.
Since 1945 more than six million people from around the world have come to live in Australia. In Australian homes, more than 200 languages are spoken, with Italian, Greek, Cantonese and Arabic the most popular after English.
Most Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast, making the beach a vital part of Australia's lifestyle. With almost 50,000 kilometres of coastline, Australia has over 10,000 beaches, more than anywhere else in the world.
Australia has the third highest standard of living in the world and four of the world’s top 10 most livable cities in 2010 were in Australia, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Australian culture is founded on stories of battlers, bushrangers and brave soldiers. Of sporting heroes, working heroes and plucky migrants. It’s all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony. Today Australia also defines itself by its Aboriginal heritage, vibrant mix of cultures, innovative ideas and a thriving arts scene.
Although Australia is a small country by population, it provides a fertile ground for new ideas; from the iconic moments in film to the unique architecture of the Sydney Opera House. Australian influence stretches from the stage and architecture to designs and inventions such as blast resistant glass and electronic pacemakers which places the country at the forefront of technological research.
A great place to do business
The Australian economy has been ranked as most resilient in the world five times since 2002 and ranked inside the top 10 of the world’s most resilient economies since 2008 by the World Competitive Yearbook of the International Institute for Management Development. A thriving democracy, Australia is one of the most politically and economically stable nations in the world.
Australia’s major cities function as regional headquarters for more than 850 multinational corporations.
With an open, dynamic culture that encourages fresh thinking and innovation, Australia is recognised for its technical skill and ground-breaking inventions across many fields of industry. For all its enterprise, Australia has a relaxed feel, with warm, friendly people who rejoice in the sheer beauty of their natural surroundings, and many leisure activities on offer.