Cruising in Australia
Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.
Location: Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
Mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
Lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m
Australia has an enviable Western-style capitalist economy with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Rising output in the domestic economy, robust business and consumer confidence, and rising exports of raw materials and agricultural products are fueling the economy. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economy's strength.
The impact of drought, weak foreign demand, and strong import demand pushed the trade deficit up from $8 billion in 2002, to $18 billion in 2003, $13 billion in 2004, and nearly $17 billion in 2005. Housing prices probably peaked in 2005, diminishing the prospect that interest rates would be raised to prevent a speculative bubble. Conservative fiscal policies have kept Australia's budget in surplus from 2002 to 2005.
Airports: 450 (2005)
2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2002)
Total: 53 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,360,458 GRT/1,532,874 DWT
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Brisbane, Dampier, Fremantle, Gladstone, Hay Point, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Walcott, Sydney
East Timor and Australia agreed in 2005 to defer the disputed portion of the boundary for fifty years and to split hydrocarbon revenues evenly outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area covered by the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty; East Timor dispute hampers creation of a revised maritime boundary with Indonesia (see also Ashmore and Cartier Islands dispute); regional states express concern over Australia's 2004 declaration of a 1,000-nautical mile-wide maritime identification zone; Australia asserts land and maritime claims to Antarctica (see Antarctica); in 2004 Australia submitted its claims to UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its continental margin from both its mainland and Antarctic claims
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region
American Samoa - Australia - Cook Island - Easter Islands (Chile) - Federation of Micronesia - Fiji - Guam - USA (Hawaii) - Kiribati - Marshall Islands - Nauru - New Caledonia - New Zealand - Niue - Norfolk Island - Northern Mariana Islands - Palau - Papua New Guinea - Pitcairn Island - Samoa - Solomon Island - Tokelau - Tonga - Tuvalu - Vanuatu - Wallis and Futuna