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Introduction

Most people harbour a particular image of Australia, such as the Opera House or Ayers Rock, yet these famous icons do scant justice to the richness of Australia's natural treasures and its cultural diversity. Australia offers a wealth of travel experiences, from the drama of the outback and the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef to the cosmopolitanism of Sydney and arguably the best beaches in the world. Australia is an enormous country, and 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. It is this sheer vastness, and the friction between the ancient land steeped in Aboriginal lore and the New World culture being heaped upon it, which gives Australia much of its character.

Facts at a Glance

Full country name Commonwealth of Australia
Population 18,090,000 (growth rate 1.4%)
Capital city Canberra (pop: 311,000)
People 94% European descent, 4% Asian, 1.5%, Aboriginal
Languages English, Aboriginal languages
(plus Italian, Greek and numerous other European and Asian languages)
Religion 75% Christian, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 0.5% Jewish
Government Independent member of the British Commonwealth

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