In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week's focus is on Australia. Know all about the country.
Capital: Canberra, Currency: Australian dollar, Language: English 76.8 per cent, Mandarin 1.6, Italian 1.4, Arabic 1.3, Greek 1.2, Cantonese 1.2, Vietnamese 1.1, others 10.4 and unspecified 5. (2011 est.), Religion: Protestant 30.1 per cent , Catholic 25.3, other Christian 2.9, Orthodox 2.8, Buddhist 2.5, Muslim 2.2, Hindu 1.3, other 1.3, none 22.3.
Australia is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are opposite to those in Europe and North America. There are two climatic zones: the tropical zone (in the north above the Tropic of Capricorn) and the temperate zone. The tropical zone (consisting of 40 per cent of Australia) has two seasons ~ summer and winter ~ while the temperate zone has all four seasons. Spring to summer (October to March) is hot everywhere, tropical in the north, and warm to hot with mild nights in the south.
Autumn to winter (April to September) in northern and central Australia have clear warm days and cool nights, the south has cool days with occasional rain but still plenty of sun. Snow is totally confined to mountainous regions of the southeast.
VISA ON ARRIVAL
For tourist visa, applicants have to submit notarised copy of all pages of current passport, certified copies of birth showing the names of both parents, one photograph, application forms. If visiting relatives, a letter of invitation from a relative in Australia, itinerary giving travel details, accommodation and activities within Australia, copies of bank statements (personal and business) over a period of time showing a consistent savings history, copies of documents which show any other funds or assets held and IT returns of last three years are needed. Visitor visas can allow for single or multiple entry and permit a stay of three, six or 12 months in Australia on each occasion. A three-month stay with a multiple entry facility valid fot one year meets the requirements of most visitors to Australia.
Australia's trade in goods and services with India was $9.72 billion in 2014-15 with Indian exports of goods amounting to $2.726 billion. Australia's exports of goods to India were $6.994 billion. Australia is placed at 33rd position in India's export destinations and 18th among import sources.
India's main exports to Australia are passenger motor vehicles and machinery, pearls, gems and jewellery and refined petroleum while our major imports are vegetables, wool, non-monetary gold, coal, copper and fertilizers. Civil Nuclear Co-Operation Agreement between the two countries was signed in 2014. An Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) has been set up for research in agriculture, science and technology.
Bush tucker and barbecues
Seafood is an integral part of the cuisine. 'Bush tucker' from Australia's endemic flora and fauna can be delicious; kangaroo meat in particular is growing in popularity. For all the advent of fine dining, however, the humble barbecue remains a quintessential Australian food experience. Steak, prawns and beer tend to feature prominently. Some of the specialities are Sydney rock oysters, moreton bay bugs, kangaroo and meat pie. Apples, mangoes and pumpkins are grown in large quantities. Australian wines have earned international acclaim like craft beer and sparkling wine. Wines in regions like the Barossa Valley in South Australia and Margaret river in Western Australia are world class.
Indian immigrants thrive
There is a rapidly growing Indian community of nearly 4.5 lakh Indians in Australia, which is contributing significantly to the Australian economy as teachers, doctors, accountants, engineers and IT engineers. India is now the third largest source of immigrants to Australia and the second largest source of skilled professionals.
In addition, there are a sizeable number of people of Indian origin from countries such as Fiji, Malaysia, Kenya and South Africa. (Feb 2016)
Flying Down Under
Direct flights to the Land Down Under with Air India from Delhi takes around 12 hours. Airlines like Jet Airways, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways operate frequent flights to various cities in Australia from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. For major Australian cities, layover airports are at Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Join the celebrations
Probably the most significant national secular celebration is Anzac Day on 25 April. This is a public holiday that commemorates the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. However, the event now encompasses participants in all wars in which Australia has been involved. Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January to commemorate British settlement and many capital cities host a fireworks event. Labour Day is a public holiday. A significant celebration occurs on Melbourne Cup Day, an annual horse-racing event in Melbourne. Some states have wine festivals.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
Sydney Opera House
Shaped like huge shells or billowing sails, this breathtaking building on Sydney's Bennelong Point graces the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites and is one of the world's great architectural icons. Water surrounds the structure on three sides and the Royal Botanic Gardens border it to the south.
It encompasses theatres, studios, a concert hall, exhibition rooms and a cinema.
Great Barrier Reef
Visible from outer space, the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest living structures on the planet. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the park stretches for 2,300 km along the state of Queensland. Diving and snorkeling are spectacular.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Deep in the heart of the Australia's Red Centre, Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) is one of the most photographed natural wonders in the country. The striking red monolith forms the centrepiece of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Melbourne (Australia's second largest city)
Highlights of the city include the Royal Botanic Gardens, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. To the east, greater Melbourne extends into the beautiful Dandenong Ranges and in the south to the Mornington Peninsula where many locals escape for seaside getaways. Other tourist destinations are Sydney Harbour Bridge, Blue Mountains National Park (Unesco World Heritage Site), Bondi beach, Daintree National Park (among the most ancient ecosystems on earth), Fraser Island (largest sand island in the world and one of Australia's most unique four-wheel-drive adventures), Kakadu National Park (largest national park in Australia and the second largest in the world.