Australia Demographics 2000
State included entirely in the southern hemisphere, between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The population of the Australia it remains very limited in relation to the vast extension of the available lands. At the 2000 census there were almost 19,490,000 residents, which in 2005 were estimated to be just over 20 million. The overall density remains around 2.6 residents per km 2, and the striking contrasts between the northern areas dominated by the desert and the populous south-eastern coast also remain unchanged. The rate of population growth has fluctuated since the beginning of the 21st century. around 1% per year, mainly the result of the natural drive, given that the limits imposed on immigration have reduced the traditional contribution of this phenomenon, which has led the share of foreigners to account for one fifth of the residents. In fact, the active migratory balance had contracted in 2003 to 50,000 individuals, although the coasts continued to host from time to time landings of refugees from Asian regions. The fertility rate dropped from 2.0 children per woman in the 1980s to 1.7 in 2005, bringing the overall birth rate below the 13% threshold. The simultaneous lowering of mortality (7.4 ‰, with almost 80 years of average life) has led to the expansion of the percentage of elderly people, with an increase in pension and health expenditure which has led the government to review welfare policies (see). Although greater attention has been paid to the state of indigenous peoples, who are in demographic recovery, they are still characterized by severe delays in life expectancy (twenty years below the average), in education levels and in the availability of income..
The urban population, estimated in 2003 at around 92 % of the total, is largely concentrated in the eight metropolitan areas, all distributed along the southern coast. In particular, the coastal selvedge of New South Wales now has over 5 million residents. along the arc of a hundred kilometers, which has its pivot in Sydney and its margins in Newcastle and Wollongong.
At the start of the new millennium, agriculture had to deal with a drought of catastrophic proportions: in the summer of 2002, 2.5 million sheep and almost 700,000 cattle were killed, 60 % of wheat production was lost and several times cities like Canberra and Sydney have been plagued by wildfires. The recovery, however, was rapid, allowing the Australia to soon reassume its place among the world’s leading exporters in the field of food and livestock products. Indeed, the economy continues to grow: GDP in the period 1990-2003 increased by more than 3.4 % per year, and in 2004 it exceeded$ 30,000 per capita, while unemployment stood below 6%. A significant contribution derives from the vast availability of mineral raw materials and energy sources, which together fuel exports for over a third: in particular, Australia it is now the world’s leading supplier of coal, mainly shipped from the specialty port of Newcastle. The large base of natural resources gives a growing impulse to industrial production, which is very diversified also thanks to the critical mass reached by internal consumption. Now the Australia it has also gained an interesting place in the field of high-tech productions, which account for a good fifth on the export of manufactured goods. The greatest momentum, however, concerned the tertiary sector, which now absorbs almost three quarters of the employed and supplies over 70% of the income, giving to the Australia the typical structure of post-industrial advanced economies. Many branches of services tend to offer themselves as a reference far beyond the borders of the country, assuming an important role for various regions of the southwestern Pacific; after all, the Sydney stock exchange is the third largest in the entire area that gravitates to this ocean.
The economic development of the Australia it is not without heavy environmental costs. It was for example. noted how, over the span of a century, the vast forests of eucalyptus, acacias and casuarinas have been depleted by about one million hectares, and how the management of some intensive crops, primarily wheat, entails in the long run serious yield problems. On the other hand, even the modest aquifers present strong risks of exhaustion and salinization. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are very high and, to tackle them, the government has not taken the path of limiting emissions, but has rejected the Tokyo protocol and has preferred a strategy, agreed with the United States, Korea.
The process of rapprochement with the countries of Southeast Asia and the policy of multicultural integration, which the Labor governments had initiated in the eighties of the 20th century, suffered a setback at the threshold of the 21st century, coinciding with the decline of Asian prosperity. The conservative majority in power since 1996 (formed by the Liberal Party and the National Party, and led by the liberal J. Howard) directed the Australia in a pro-Western sense, strengthening the ties with Great Britain and the United States, and returned to exalt, as unifying elements of national identity, the values and cultural traditions of the West. The heavy political climate following the terrorist attacks of September 2001 on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon also contributed to reinforcing this change of approach, which fueled an acute sense of uncertainty and fear within the country, which had already been crossed by strong xenophobic movements. Although in the legislative elections of November 2001 the racist party of P. Hanson, One Nation, was defeated, failing to get even a seat, the third consecutive victory of the liberal-national coalition (82 seats against 65 of the Labor Party) was obtained under the banner of a policy of closure towards immigration and the question of the aborigines, and of safeguarding the prerogatives of the white population. The success of the conservatives was also favored by the good results obtained in the economic field through the adoption of new fiscal measures, the cut in public spending and the continuation of the market liberalization policy. However, the economic revival was not accompanied by a corresponding growth in employment and only marginally affected the middle classes, affected by new taxes on services and the dismantling of the welfare state. The Labor Party, under the leadership of its new leader S. Crean, appointed after the 2001 electoral defeat, tried to interpret the needs of the groups most affected by Howard’s liberal policy, and centered the opposition’s battle on strengthening public health and education and on respect for civil rights, especially towards illegal immigrants, largely refugees seeking political asylum. The repressive action of the government and the abuses perpetrated by the police both against the ships that transported refugees and in the centers where the latter were confined, had already generated several protests within the camps themselves and a severe warning from of the UN Refugee Commission. Despite the pressures of internal and international public opinion and the announced closure of Woomera,), the executive line remained intransigent and stiffened further after the October 2002 terrorist attack in Bali, attributed to the Indonesian fundamentalist group Jemaah Islamiah, in which 200 people were killed, including 88 Australians. The fight against terrorism became one of the government’s priorities and translated into foreign policy in the unconditional adherence to the theses of US President GW Bush on the need for a ‘preemptive strike’ against any threats to national security. In January 2003 the executive decided to send troops to the Middle East, in view of the imminent US military campaign against Iraq and, despite the Senate vote of no confidence in the decision taken (February), after the outbreak of the war (March) decreed the participation of Australian troops in the conflict. The election campaign for the legislative consultations of October 2004 was dominated by issues of foreign policy and national security – the latter problem returned forcefully to the fore after the attack on the Australian embassy in Djakarta in September of the same year – while social issues and the rights of the Aborigines remained in the background, even though they were advanced by Labor. The ruling coalition, which could boast a stable economic growth in the country, was again the winner (86 seats), while the Labor Party, proponent of the withdrawal from Irāq, although it recorded an increase in consensus, was again beaten (60 seats). During 2005, the Howard government tried to combine joining the Anglo-American axis (in February 2005 it was decided to send a new contingent to ̔Irāq) with a rapprochement with the countries of the Asian area, with which relations and commercial exchanges were intensified again. In internal politics, the liberalization of the labor market was promoted through the approval (November 2005) of a new legislation on trade union and contractual matters which was strongly opposed by the opposition. For Australia history, please check historyaah.com.