Australian Facts & Figures
Geography & Climate
Australia's land mass is approximately 7,692,030 km², 32 times larger than the United Kingdom. The most easterly point in Australia is Cape Byron, New South Wales at 153° 39´ east; the most southerly point is South East Cape in Tasmania at 43° 39´ south; the most westerly point is Steep Point in Western Australia at 113° 09´ east; and the most northerly point is Cape York in Queensland at 10° 41´ south.
Due to the large area and the latitudinal range from north to south of the Australian island continent, the climate varies enormously. The seasonal temperature fluctuations can also be considerable. Average annual air temperatures range from 28´C along the Kimberley coast in Western Australia to 4´C in the alpine areas of south eastern Australia. Winter temperatures are at their lowest in July across the country and the warmest month is January or February in the south and December in the north except in the extreme north and north-west where it is warmest in November.
A large region of Australia stretching from Western Australia's Shark Bay in the west across much of South Australia through to south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales receives a median annual rainfall of less than 200mm. The region with the highest median annual rainfall is Queensland's east coast between Cairns and Cardwell. The south of the country receives most of its rain in winter and the north is wettest in summer.
The single most important factor determining land use and rural production in Australia is the presence or absence of rainfall. Due to a lack of mountainous barriers, low plains and marked depressions in the interior, Australia's rainfall is abundant in some areas and virtually absent in others. The lack of rainfall in many areas has lead to extensive utilisation of ground water resources and the extensive development of dams, reservoirs, large tanks and other storage facilities.
Australia's population at the last census in 1996 was 18,311,500. The average annual poulation growth in Australia is 1.2% and on aveage each female has less than 2 children. The population is not widely distributed with approximately 85% of Australians occupying only 1% of the continent. Most people live in the capital cities and along the coast.
There are 6.2 million people in New South Wales with 3.879 million living in Sydney. The second most populated city in Australia is Melbourne with 3.3 million people and Brisbane with 1.5 million people is the third most populated capital city. Canberra, the Nation's Capital, has a relatively small population of 307,000. According to figures collected at the 1996 census, the Aboriginal population was 386,049.
The Australian population is aging with the proportion of people aged 65 and over steadily increasing. The proportion of children aged 15 and under has been in decline since the early 1960s and much of the population growth can be attributed to immigration. Many of Australia's immigrants originate from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The number of Australians stating that they have a religious affiliation of some description has been steadily declining. In 1996 71% of the population stated that they were affiliated with a Christian Religion. Of the Christian affiliations 27% of respondents stated they were Catholic, 22% Anglican and 21.9% stated they were affiliated with another Christian denomination. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism showed the largest increases in affiliation.