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Australia ranks as one of the best places to live in the world by all indices of income, human development, healthcare and civil rights. The sixth-largest country in the world by land mass, its comparatively small population is concentrated in the highly-urbanised east of the Australian continent. The political entity that is modern Australia began to come into being with the arrival of British settlers in 1788. Many of the first settlers were convicts, but freemen started to arrive in increasing numbers after the discovery of gold in the mid-19th century. Aboriginal Australians, who had inhabited the continent for tens of thousands of years prior to British colonisation, numbered a few hundred thousand. Two centuries of discrimination and expropriation cut their population drastically, and now they make up less than 3% of Australia's population.

Full name: Commonwealth of Australia
Population: 23 million
Capital: Canberra
Largest city: Sydney
Area: 7.7 million sq km (2.9 million sq miles)
Major language: English

Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium and renewable energy sources.

Australia also has a large services sector and is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy and food. The Australian economy has grown for 17 consecutive years before the global financial crisis of 2008.

Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and is the fourth most populous city in Australia. Perth was originally founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony, and gained city status in 1856. Perth is renowned for its fresh, clean and unpolluted environment, its great outdoor lifestyle and its Mediterranean-type climate. Western Australia has the fastest growing economy in the country and the economic boom has created well-paid career opportunities for both graduates and students. The historic port City of Fremantle is 30 minutes drive from the Perth CBD and is a lively mix of bars, pubs and restaurants.