Australian F1 Grand Prix
26.03.2017 | Melbourne - Albert Park
Location: Indian/Pacific Oceans.
Area: 7,686,850 sq km (2,967,909 sq miles).
Population: 22,810,000 (2012).
Population Density: 3 per sq km.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1901.
Geography: Australia's great coastline covers 59,736km (37,119 miles); the country is lapped by the Arafura and Timor Seas to the north, the Coral and Tasman Seas of the South Pacific to the east, the Southern Ocean to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the west. Most of the population has settled along the eastern and southeastern coastal strip, with the notable exception of Perth, one of the most remote cities in the world, on the west coast. Australia is the smallest continent (and the largest island) in the world, and terrain ranges from baking red desert to lush green rainforest, and from world-renowned surfing beaches to snow-clad mountains.
It’s partly the extreme diversity of different landscapes that makes Australia such a great travel proposition, in fact – there aren’t many countries that can offer natural features as richly eclectic as Uluru, the Great Ocean Road and the Great Barrier Reef.
In the east lies the Great Dividing Range; there are rainforests in the far northeast (mainly in Queensland); the southeast is a huge fertile plain; and further to the north lays the enormous Great Barrier Reef: a 2,000km (1,200-mile) strip of coral that covers a total area of 345,000 sq km (133,000 sq miles).
Language: The official language is English. Many other languages are retained by minorities, including Italian, German, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese dialects and Aboriginal languages.
Religion: 27% Roman Catholic, 21% Protestant and smaller minorities of all other major religions.
Time: Australia spans three time zones, but the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania also operate daylight saving which usually begins from the last weekend in October and runs to the first weekend in April.
South Australia: GMT + 9.5 (GMT + 10.5 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
Tasmania: GMT + 10 (GMT + 11 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
Queensland: GMT + 10 (no daylight saving).
Victoria: GMT + 10 (GMT + 11 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
New South Wales: GMT + 10 (GMT + 11 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
Australian Capital Territory: GMT + 10 (GMT + 11 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
Western Australia: GMT + 8 (Western Australia rejected daylight saving in its fourth referendum on the issue in 2009).
Northern Territory: GMT + 9.5 hours (no daylight saving).
Social Conventions: A largely informal atmosphere prevails; shaking hands is the customary greeting. Casual wear is worn everywhere except in the most exclusive restaurants, social gatherings and important business meetings. Most restaurants forbid smoking.
Electricity: 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Three-pin plugs are in use, although these differ from UK three-pin plugs. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances are found in most hotels.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd since 2013. All individual states and territories have their own autonomous legislative, executive and judicial systems (though certain powers remain under the jurisdiction of the federal government).
Head of State: HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Quentin Bryce since 2008.
Recent History: Captain Cook stumbled onto Australian shores in 1770 to find an Aboriginal way of life that went back some 40,000 years. By 1868, Britain had sent more than 160,000 convicts to Australia.
Experiencing the culture of Australia's indigenous population is one of the great highlights of a visit. Many tensions still exist between mainstream Australia and its Aboriginal people. The first European settlers treated the Aboriginal population with appalling brutality, which gave way to racist and cruel policies from subsequent administrations. However, the slow march towards reconciliation was given a boost in 2008 when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a formal apology to the indigenous population for the suffering of the past.
In November 2007 elections, after almost 12 years of conservative rule, the public voted out the Liberal Party coalition and gave the Australian Labor Party (ALP) a decisive win. This has meant some significant changes in the direction of the country. Prime Minister Rudd swiftly set about signing the Kyoto Protocol, investing more in alternate energy sources.
The Labor government's stimulus package and strong trading links with China have resulted in Australia riding out the 2008/2009 global financial crisis relatively unscathed. The government withdrew its troops from Iraq in early 2008, yet retains 1,500 troops in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.