Australian States & Territories
Australian Capital Territory
ACT The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was established in 1911 within the borders of New South Wales as the site for the future national capital, Canberra.
Canberra is nearly 300km from Sydney and some 650km from Melbourne. A planned city, it is laid out around lake Burley Griffin. The Territory became self-governing in 1989. National government remains its main industry, but private sector employment has expanded and includes production of sophisticated scientific and communications equipment, and computer software.
New South Wales
The capital of New South Wales is Sydney, the site of the country's oldest European settlement and its largest and most cosmopolitan city, with ethnic communities from more than a hundred countries. The city's icons include its cricket ground, Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Australia's major international gateway, Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympic Games.
The economy of New South Wales is the largest in Australia. More than one-third of Australia's economic output comes from New South Wales,and its economy is one-third larger than that of the next biggest, Victoria. Manufacturing, despite recent setbacks, continues to be the centre piece of the economy. In the early 1990s it employed more than 400,000 people and contributed almost 15 percent of the state's gross domestic product (GDP).Dairy farming along the coastal strip and wool, wheat, and beef from the interior also contribute greatly to the country's farm output. Less vital but still important are bananas and cotton. Other important industries include wholesale and retail trade (15 percent of the state's GDP); finance, real estate, and business services (13 percent); and transport and communications (9 percent).
Many of Australia's biggest corporations have established their headquarters in Sydney, which has become one of the leading financial centres in the Asia-Pacific region. The Bank of Australia, the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, and the Sydney Futures Exchange all have head offices in Sydney. Sydney Australia's information technology and telecommunications industry, providing more than 40 percent of the multi billion-dollar telecommunications market.
Victoria is the smallest of the mainland States but is the second most populous, and the most densely populated State.
Its capital, Melbourne,sprang up as the primary city of the Victorian gold rushes in the middle of the nineteenth century. During its boom Melbourne outgrew Sydney, and after Federation served as the national capital until Canberra was established. Melbourne has since lost its lead in population to Sydney,but remains the headquarters of a large number of business and financial organisations, as well as major manufacturing enterprises.
Roughly three-quarters of Victoria's residents are born in Australia; most of the remainder come from Europe and, to a lesser extent, Asia. In the last two decades, however, Victoria's population has reflected changes in the Australian population as a whole, with large Chinese, Greek, and Italian communities being augmented by Vietnamese and other Asian arrivals. Aborigines make up 0.3 percent of Victoria's total population.
Queensland, Australia's north-eastern State,stretches from the temperate zone into the tropics. Its northern tip, Cape York, is separated from Papua New Guinea by the narrow Torres Strait.
The corals of the Great Barrier Reef fringe the eastern coastline for more than 2000 kilometres. Annual rainfall ranges from four meters in the tropical northern rainforests to 0.2m on the Mitchell Grass plains of the south west. The wide variety of natural habitats supports a great diversity of plants and animals.
European settlement in South Australia began in 1836.
Adelaide,the capital, was a planned city, and retains much of its early architecture. The Adelaide Festival, held every two years, is an international cultural event.
South Australia is the source of many fine wines. The wine-producing areas, including the Barossa Valley, are major tourist attractions.
Industrial output includes steel, shipbuilding and car manufacturing.
Western Australia is about the size of Western Europe, but has a population of less than 2 million. More than 70 percent of its people live in the capital, Perth.
Opportunities to serve niche markets in Asia provide an important stimulus to innovation in Western Australia.
The State is a leading supplier of bulk ores for the world aluminium and steel industries. Other minerals produced include nickel and titanium, rare earths, gold and diamonds.
With the development of major gas fields off its north west coast, the State has become a source of bulk supplies of liquefied petroleum gas to North Asia.
Western Australia's economy has been the fastest growing in Australia since large-scale mining began in the 1960s. In the mid-1990s the state produced about 11 percent of the world's iron ore, chiefly from the Pilbararegion, making it one of the largest producers in the world.
Huge diamond deposits were discovered in the Kimberley region in 1979, and by the mid-1990s Australia had become the world's leading supplier of diamonds by volume and the sixth largest supplier by value.
The state leads Australian gold production; bauxite, nickel, and petroleum are also produced insignificant quantities. Plentiful supplies of natural gas and coal have been discovered off Western Australia's north western coast. The nearby, rapidly expanding economies of South east Asia are important consumers of Western Australia's natural resources and other products.
Separated from the continent by the waters of Bass Strait, Tasmania and its many companion islands form the smallest Australian State.
The capital, Hobart, was established in 1803.
Annual yacht races from Sydney and Melbourne bring ocean racers from around the world to Hobart.
Tasmania has substantial farming, forestry, hydro-electric, mining and fishery industries as well as unique wilderness areas and a significant tourist industry. Its landscapes and colonial era buildings are major tourist attractions.