Australia, (officially the Commonwealth of Australia) consists of the mainland of the Australian Continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world’s sixth largest country by land mass, with most of the population heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. The largest urban area is Sydney.
Australia’s size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with tropical rainforests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and dry desert in the centre. It is the flattest continent, with the least fertile soils; desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. The driest inhabited continent, its annual rainfall averaged over continental area is less than 500 mm.
Population: 24 million
Language: No official language, but English is the most widely spoken.
Ethnic Groups: The Indigenous population—Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders—was counted at 2.5% of the total population in 2011.
Following British settlement until the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the British Isles, and a majority of Australians have some British or Irish ancestry. Following World War II many settled in the country as new immigrants, so that by 2000 nearly two out of every seven Australians were born in another country. In 2011, 43% of people had at least one overseas-born parent; the five largest immigrant groups were those from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, India, and Vietnam.
By 2050, Australia’s population is currently projected to reach around 42 million. But with 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, their population density remains among the lowest in the world.
GDP: $50,000 per capita
Religions: Australia has no state religion; and has one of the lowest levels of religious adherence in the world. The Australian Constitution prohibits the federal government from making any law to establish any religion, impose any religious observance, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion.
Before European settlement, the animist beliefs of Australia’s indigenous people had been practised for many thousands of years. Mainland Aboriginal Australians’ spirituality is known as the Dreamtime and it places a heavy emphasis on belonging to the land. The collection of stories that it contains shaped Aboriginal law and customs. Aboriginal art, story and dance continue to draw on these spiritual traditions. The spirituality and customs of Torres Strait Islanders, who inhabit the islands between Australia and New Guinea, reflected their Melanesian origins and dependence on the sea.
Since the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in 1788, Christianity has grown to be the major religion practised in Australia. Christian churches have played an integral role in the development of education, health and welfare services in Australia. For much of Australian history the Church of England (now known as the Anglican Church of Australia) was the largest religious denomination. However, following multicultural immigration the Roman Catholic Church, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism have all grown in Australia over the past half-century.
Government: Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, the parliament consists of an Upper House (Senate) and Lower House (House of Representatives). Each state and major mainland territory has its own parliament.
History: Before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who spoke languages classifiable into roughly 250 groups. Approximately 20 of these languages are still actively spoken today. After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Today, Australia has 6 states and 2 mainland territories.
CCI Ministry here: In March 2017, CCI has classes running in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and regional Victoria. Students are using books written in English, Lao, Romanian, Spanish and Swahili. We hope to extend the training further into regional and indigenous communities, many of whom have limited access to effective leadership training opportunities. For more information and project needs, please contact us.