17 Facts About Australia That Will Blow Your Mind

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Australia shrugged off the global recession. Its economy soared on the back of the biggest housing boom in the world. Its ground holds $1.6 trillion in metals and minerals. Its cities are among the nicest in the world.

However you look at it, Australia is becoming more than a little brother to the West.

We picked out some striking facts for anyone looking to invest down under.

Remember that Great Recession? It wasn't a big deal down under. Australia had only one quarter of negative growth after the financial crisis and its economy grew more than any OECD country in 2009

Australia's government debt to GDP is the second lowest in the OECD -- with levels one quarter of America's

Chile is the only OECD country that's less in the hole.

Source: OECD

Australia also had the best job growth in the OECD following the crisis

The average Australian spends $1,377 each year on gambling -- three times as much as Americans

That adds up to $19 billion a year, or 2% of GDP, in gambling money.

Source: Market Watch

The Australian dollar is the fifth-most traded currency -- more popular than the Yuan, Real, Ruble or Rupee.

Despite being only the 13th largest economy, Australia's dollar is the fifth most traded currency.

The currency market sees the Aussie as a good long bet and a safe place to flee to in light of QE2 in America and Europe's sovereign debt crisis. It's relative volatility also attracts a lot of investors.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Australia is blessed with almost $1.6 trillion in metals and ore reserves. Only South Africa and Russia have more.

Reserves composition (value):

46% Iron ore
22% Nickel
12% Bauxite
9% Gold
5% Copper
1% Zinc

Source: Citi

In 2006, Australia was the world's top exporter of coal, wool, zinc and tin ores and concentrates, iron ore, beef, barley and raw sugar

Australia's population density is less than three people per square mile. Only Namibia and Mongolia are more sparsely populated


The arid climate makes most of the country essentially uninhabitable, however. The five biggest cities in Australia are spending $13.2 billion on seawater desalination

Climate change has made droughts and floods worse. The government is turning to expensive and unpopular desalination to cope with the demands of a growing population.

Source: NYTimes

Perth is the most isolated urban area in the world. The closest city, Adelaide, is 1307 miles from Perth. That's about as far New Orleans is from New York

Australia's housing is overvalued by 56% according to price-to-rent ratios -- the biggest real estate bubble in the world

The housing market is overvalued by 56.4%. A steady flow of immigrants has kept it from crashing so far, but there are plenty of trends that point to a coming disaster.

Economist Steve Keen warns that Australian housing is a bubble heading for an American style subprime crash: 'There are very good odds that, when this Ponzi Scheme collapses and house prices fall, bank shares will go down with them.'

See an interactive table at The Economist.

The average Aussie drinks 110 litres of beer in a year -- more than any but the Germans, Irish and Czechs

A former prime minister even made it to the record books for drinking 2.5 pints in 11 seconds.

Source: Kirin

Australia seems like more of a melting pot than the US. 26% of Aussies were born abroad, compared with 12% of Americans

60% of Australian households include at least one animal -- that's the highest rate of pet ownership in the world

In the 2008 Olympics, Australian athletes got the fifth most medals. This means the average Australian is 5.8 times as likely to get an Olympic medal than an American

The average Aussie produces more greenhouse gasses than Americans. Only the United Arab Emirates produces more GHGs per person

Source: Globalis

Rabbits are an enormous environmental problem! These pests cause up to $1 billion in damage every year by eating seeds, destroying brush and causing erosion

Ironically, British colonists introduced rabbits to the continent in 1859 to make their new home more familiar.

Source: DDMRB

Impressive for a small country. Now for the real land of superlatives...

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