|Area:||7.7 million sq. km (2.9 million sq. mi)|
|Government:||Federal parliamentary democracy recognizing British monarch as sovereign|
|Population:||2012 estimate 22,798,744|
|Languages:||English is the national language. Australian English is a major variety of the language, with its own distinctive accent and vocabulary (some of which has found its way into other varieties of English), but less internal dialectal variation (apart from small regional pronunciation and lexical variations) than either British or American English. According to the 2001 census, English is the only language spoken in the homes for around 80% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Chinese (2.1%), Italian (1.9%), and Greek (1.4%).|
It is believed that there were between 200 and 300 Australian Aboriginal languages at the time of the first European contact. Only about 70 of these languages have survived, and all but 20 of these are now endangered. An indigenous language remains the main language for about 50,000 (0.25%) people. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 6,500 deaf people.
|Religions:||Australia does not have state religion. In the 2006 census, 64% of Australians were listed as Christian of any denomination, including 26% as Roman Catholic and 19% as Anglican. "No religion" accounted for 19%, and it is the fastest growing group; and a further 12% declined to answer or did not give a response adequate for interpretation. The second largest religion in Australia is Buddhism, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Overall less than 6% of Australians identify with non-Christian religions. Surveys have found Australia to be one of the least devout nations in the developed world, with religion not described as an important part in many Australians' lives. As in many Western countries, the level of active participation in church worship is low and in decline; weekly attendance at church services in 2004 was about 1.5 million: about 7.5% of the population.|
|Time:||GMT +8 to GMT +10.5|
|Currency:||Australian dollar (AUD)|
|Electricity:||230V-240V 50Hz (Australian plug)|
|Drives:||on the left|
|Tips:||Tipping is never compulsory and is often not expected in Australia. Staff are seen to be paid an appropriate wage and will certainly not chase you down for a tip. It is acceptable to pay the amount stated on the bill. When Australians do tip, it will often be in the form of leaving the change from a cash payment, rather than a fixed percentage. |
Tipping is also not expected in taxis, and drivers will typically return your change to the last 5 cents, unless you indicate that they should round the fare to the nearest dollar.
In a suburban or country restaurant where table service is offered, they will certainly take a tip of 5%-10% should you decide to leave one, but it is almost always not expected. In a cafe or more informal restaurant, even with table service, and even in tourist centers, leaving a tip is unusual. Sometimes there is a coin jar by the cashier labelled "Tips", but more often than not, diners do not leave one.
|Visas:||Every traveller to Australia, except those with Australian or New Zealand passports, requires a visa of some description.|
The most popular one is called an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to enter Australia. The ETA is the same as a visa but is issued electronically, so you do not get a stamp in your passport. An electronic visa available to holders of certain passports, see the immigration website. These are valid for visits of up to 3 months and allow multiple entries for a year.
Non-electronic visas, the only option if you do not hold an ETA-eligible passport, also required if you are staying for a longer period of time or wish to seek Australian employment. These will require a written application and processing by an Australian consulate or embassy.
Overstaying or violating any terms of your visa can result in deportation and a 3-year entry ban.
|Airports:||For travelers arriving in Australia by plane, the most common entry point is Sydney Airport, also known as Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD). There are also international airports in other cities of the country: Melbourne Airport, or Tullamarine Airport (MEL), Cairns Airport (CNS), Brisbane Airport (BNE), Adelaide Airport (ADL), and Perth Airport (PER).|
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