Introducing….Australia!

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This week we’ll be eating what we grew up eating. That’s right, it’s time to visit our home country, Australia.

Why? Because I still have a whole pumpkin left over from the bounty we scored at my Auntie and Uncle’s place, and, as it turns out, we Aussies eat more pumpkin than many other countries.

But now, its time for some stats and info.

Australia, where the bloody hell is it?

Australia is made up of the mainland, the island of Tasmania, and lots and lots of tiny islands. The Pacific Ocean is to the East, and the Indian ocean is to the West, with the Tasman Sea between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, the Coral sea to the very North East, and the Timor and Arafura Seas to the North.

Basically, its North of Antarctica, East of New Zealand, and South of Indonesia, but shares no land borders with, well, anyone.

We have 5 States and 2 Territories, and the capital is Canberra, which is inland on the Eastern side of the country.

Economy, People and Politics

  • Population: 21,515,754
  • Urbanisation: 89% of the population
  • Median Age: 37.5 years old
  • 1.78 children are born per woman
  • Ethnicity has been calculated at 92% white, 7% asian, and 1% other. (i don’t know who they’re counting, and if they’re leaving people out)
  • About 63% of people claim to be some denomination of Christian, about 18% of people are Atheists (myself included), 2.1% are Buddhist, 1.7% Muslim, 2.4% Other, and 11.3% are ‘unspecified’.
  • GDP per capita: $38, 800
  • Unemployment is about 5.6%

Australia is a Constitutional Monarchy, with the Queen of England as our Head of State, and the Australian Governor General as her representative. That said, the Cabinet and Prime Minister (who doesn’t exist n the Constitution) actually run the country, although legislation and budgets must be passed by both houses of parliament (explained below).

There are three levels of Government in Australia (for most places – some only have 2): Local Councils, State Government, and Federal Government. There are two houses in Federal Parliament, the House of representatives (lower hose), and the Senate (upper house).We also have an appointed High Court.

We don’t have fixed terms for the Federal parliament, however they are approximately 3 years for Members in the House of Representatives, and 6 years for most members of the Senate. Half of the State senators are elected at every election. There are 4 senators from Territories (2 each for the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory) who are elected every three years. Voting in State and Federal elections is compulsory for everyone over the age of 18.

There are currently a number of political parties in the Australian political arena, as well as some independents. The system has long been considered a two party system comprising of the Liberal Party (economically neo-liberal, social conservatives) and the Labor Party (a teeny bit less socially conservative, economically less neo-liberal,), but that is changing as support for the Greens grows.

The next Federal election has just been announced, and will be held on Saturday the 21st of August, 2010.

Interesting stuff about Australia

  • We’re the 6th biggest country in the world – Russia, Canada, the US, China and Brazil are bigger, India is smaller.
  • About 1% of the population is Vegan.
  • We invented notepads, aspirin and the wine cask
  • Right at the moment, we have our first ever Woman Governor General and Women Prime Minister.
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