If one goes by numbers Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world by total area and the world’s 12th-largest economy. In 2014 Australia had the world’s fifth-highest per capita income. Australia’s military expenditure is the world’s 13th-largest.
With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.
Leaving numbers aside, Australia is one of the world’s most beautiful countries and boasts of a very high standard of living. It is home to the Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, the vast Outback (interior desert wilderness) and unique animal species including kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses.
Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal, but its capital, Canberra, is inland and nicknamed the “Bush Capital.”
Australia has six states—New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia (WA)—and two major mainland territories—the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT). Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Perth are the capitals of these states respectively. Canberra, also the national capital, is the capital of the Australian Capital Territory and Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory.
Australia uses three main time zones, Australian Western Standard Time (AWST; UTC+08:00), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST; UTC+09:30), and Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST; UTC+10:00). Time is regulated by the individual state governments, some of which observe daylight saving time (DST). Australia’s external territories observe different time zones.
Daylight saving time is used in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the ACT. It is not currently used in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. DST begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the first Sunday in April.
Weather in Australia
Australia has four major seasons – Summer (1st December to the end of February), Autumn (1st March to 31st May), Winter (1st June to 31st August) and Spring (1st September to 30th November) all lasting officially for 3 months each. Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere its weather patterns are opposite to the countries in the northern hemisphere. Hence it is summer during Christmas and Santa comes surfing the waves rather than on a sleigh.