Australia: Country and Foreign Investment
History, Population, Language and Culture
Although the continent was discovered by Dutch explorers in the early 17th century, no formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when the eastern side of Australia was claimed by the British. It was originally settled by penal transportation.
Following further exploration and the beginning of the exploitation of its natural resources, six colonies were created. They then became the states that federated into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Britain’s defeat in Asia in World War II caused Australia to turn to the US as a new ally and, since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the US, under the ANZUS Treaty.
Some constitutional ties between Australia and the UK were severed with the passing of the Australia Act of 1986. However, in a 1999 referendum, a slim majority of Australian voters rejected a proposal to become a republic, and the British monarch remains Head of State, represented by a Governor-General.
Australia’s population is over 22m, mainly found along the eastern and south-eastern coasts. About 60% of the people are concentrated in and around the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Although around 90% of Australia’s population are of European ancestry, there has been significant immigration from Asia, particularly China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
English is the national language. While over 60% of Australians are Christian, there is no state religion.