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Australia
Overview
Background Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. It was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef. A referendum to change Australia's status, from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to a republic, was defeated in 1999.
Natural resources bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Land use arable land: 6.88%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 93.09% (1998 est.)
Population 19,731,984 (July 2003 est.)
Ethnic groups Caucasian 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%
Religions Anglican 26.1%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24.3%, non-Christian 11%, other 12.6%
Languages English, native languages
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (1980 est.)
Capital Canberra
Government type democratic, federal-state system recognizing the British monarch as sovereign
Independence 1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)
National holiday Australia Day, 26 January (1788)
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