Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific
Oceans. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the northeast and New Zealand to the southeast.
Area Total: 7,617,930 km2
Population 2011: 22,634,885
Largest city: Sydney
A prosperous developed country, Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom and the protection of civil liberties and political
rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, OECD, APEC, Pacific Islands Forum and the World Trade Organization. Australia is the only country outside Europe in the top ten of the Quality-of-life index.
A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, and the Eureka Rebellion against mining licence fees in 1854 was an early expression of civil
disobedience. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained responsible government, managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the British
Empire. The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign
affairs, defence, and international shipping.