Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent,the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.

For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system which functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories. The population of 22.7 million is heavily concentrated in the Eastern states and is highly urbanised.

A highly developed country, Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy and has the world's seventh-highest per capita income. Australia's military expenditure is the world's twelfth largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the G20, OECD, WTO, APEC, UN, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Australian Studies Centre
Australian Studies Centre is a teaching and research institution of Renmin University of China. The Centre was officially established on 19 November 1999. The aim of the Centre is to help more people know more about Australia.

ASC at RUC held Australian Culture Weeks from 2000 through 2005. The Australian Culture Week has become an annual event at Renmin University of China. The activities of the Australian Culture Weeks are popular among the students and teaching staff and other universities in Beijing. The activities held during the Australian Culture Week at RUC have received wide media coverage and have begun to show its impact on other walks of life in the community. Australian Culture Week proves to be a good opportunity to promote person-to-person communication between Australian and Chinese peoples.

The Centre at RUC has also established links with various universities in Australia. Well-known scholars such as Prof. Colin Mackerras, Prof. David Walker, Dr Jamie Greenbaum, and other Australian friends have all made great contribution to the Centre. Up to now, nineteen master degree students have graduated from the Centre, and four other students are doing their master degrees at the Centre.


History
Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago,possibly with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now South-East Asia. These first inhabitants may have been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. At the time of European settlement in the late 18th century, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime. The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, were originally horticulturalists and hunter-gatherers.

Economy
Australia has a market economy with high GDP per capita and low rate of poverty. The Australian dollar is the currency for the nation, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. After the 2006 merger of the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange is now the ninth largest in the world.

Ranked third in the Index of Economic Freedom (2010),Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy and has the ninth highest per capita GDP; higher than that of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, and the United States. The country was ranked second in the United Nations 2010 Human Development Index and first in Legatum's 2008 Prosperity Index.All of Australia's major cities fare well in global comparative livability surveys; Melbourne reached first place on The Economist's 2011 World's Most Livable Cities list, followed by Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide in sixth, eighth, and ninth place respectively.Total government debt in Australia is about $190 billion.Australia has among the highest house prices and some of the highest household debt levels in the world.An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the century, due to rising commodity prices. Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7 per cent of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years.Australia has grown at an average annual rate of 3.6 per cent for over 15 years, in comparison to the OECD annual average of 2.5 per cent.There are differing opinions based on evidence as to whether or not Australia had been one of the few OECD nations to avoid experiencing a recession during the late 2000s global financial downturn.Six of Australia's major trading partners had been in recession which in turn affected Australia, and economic growth was hampered significantly over recent years

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