Australia’s population has now reached 20 million. The average fertility rate is below 2 children per female – well below replacement rate given the rapid ageing of the Australian population. Couple these statistics with the fact that Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world and yet maintains very low population levels, then it should be no surprise that Australia is a major world immigration destination and is set to increase its immigration throughout the 21st century and beyond. Sparse population distribution levels remain a major concern – the Australian Bureau of Statistics report that 85% of the population live on just 1% of available land! Most of the occupied areas lie on the eastern seaboard, where you will find the major cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Australia’s capital city is Canberra, not Sydney or Melbourne as many foreigners believe! The story of how Canberra became the selected site for the future capital city in 1908 is an amusing tale of a war of two cities: subsequent to Federation in 1901 and unable to resolve the dispute between Melbourne and Sydney as to which city should once and for all become Australia’s pre-eminent one, the Commonwealth government reached a compromise: the capital would be somewhere between both cities (north of the Murray River but at least 100 miles from Sydney).
The present site, 300km south-west of Sydney at the foot of the Australian Alps, and several hundred more kilometres north of Melbourne, was finally chosen after extensive searching for a suitable place. The rivalry continues to this day - albeit in somewhat friendlier circumstances! Melbournians are proud of their reputation for its sophisticated cultural activities and the arts, and time and again it has been voted by international panels as the ‘world’s most liveable city’.
Sydney on the other hand, claims title to being the most picturesque harbour city in the world, and remains the pulse beat of Australia’s vibrant business affairs.
Other Interesting Facts & Figures:
- Australia is the world’s largest exporter of beef
- Australia is comparative in size to the United States (only slightly smaller than the US contiguous states) – but, at only 20 million people, is home to only about 15% of the total US population (currently around 290 million+)