How many states are there in Australia? How many territories are there? Here’s everything you need to know!

Australia, the world’s sixth-largest country and smallest continent, is a federation of six states, three internal territories and seven external territories. Although Australia is best known for its unique flora and fauna, its vast Outback deserts and its long, sandy coastline, Australia’s geopolitical makeup is equally as fascinating to explore.

While you might be familiar with major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, there’s often confusion about the exact number of states and territories that make up the nation. The distinction between states and territories might seem trivial, but it plays a critical role in the governance and administrative functions of the country.

Each of the states and territories within, and outside of, Australia, has a fascinating history to uncover too, with tens of thousands of years of indigenous culture colliding with Western European colonisation and the political structures they brought with them.

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, then keep reading, as I delve into the intricate details of Australia’s political divisions, exploring the number of states and examining how they differ from the territories, to provide a comprehensive understanding of Australia’s federal system for the geopolitical-loving traveller.

How many states are there in Australia?

Australia is divided into six states, two major mainland territories and one minor internal territory. This division helps in governing the nation and managing its wide-ranging geographic and climatic variations. The states, each of which has its own government and the power to legislate on a wide range of subjects, are:

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia

The two major territories are:

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
  • Northern Territory (NT).

The one minor internal territory is Jervis Bay Territory (JBT), a small territory within New South Wales which is intended to give landlocked Canberra, the capital, access to the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to its mainland territories, Australia has seven external, or overseas territories. These territories are subject to Australian laws and are administered by the Australian government, but their governance structures can vary. Some, like Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, have local governing councils, while others are directly administered by the Australian government.

These external territories are:

  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Coral Sea Islands
  • Heard Island and MacDonald Islands
  • Norfolk Island
  • Australian Antarctic Territory

I’ll explore each of these states and territories, including their history and the best places to visit, in more detail below!

Map of Australian states and territories, Credit: Wikipedia.

Read more: 46 Best Places to Visit in Western Australia

Facts about Australia 

To better understand Australia before you travel, here are a few important facts providing an overview of the country’s geographical characteristics, governance structure, cultural richness, economic strength and other distinctive attributes.

Key facts about Australia:

  • Size: Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world, covering an area of approximately 7.7 million square kilometres (2.97 million square miles).
  • Population: Australia’s estimated population is around 26 million people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Capital City: The capital city of Australia is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Form of Government: Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The federal structure consists of the Commonwealth (or federal government) and the states and territories. The British monarch is the constitutional head of state, represented in Australia by the Governor-General.
  • Economy: Australia has a highly developed mixed economy and is one of the wealthiest in the world. It’s rich in natural resources, with significant industries in mining, agriculture, and services.
  • Climate: The country’s climate varies widely, ranging from tropical in the north to temperate in the south. Australia’s interior is largely arid and desert-like.
  • Official Language: English is the official language of Australia.
  • Indigenous Peoples: Australia is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, with Indigenous Australians having lived on the continent for over 65,000 years.
  • World Heritage Sites: Australia has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and several areas of significant cultural importance to Indigenous peoples.
  • Biodiversity: The country is renowned for its unique wildlife and diverse ecosystems. Iconic animals such as kangaroos, koalas and platypus are native to Australia.
Flag of Australia

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A brief history of Australian nationhood and politics

So, why are there six states in Australia? The country’s political and federal history is complex, with roots in Indigenous cultures, British colonialism and a growing sense of national identity. Let’s take a look at the most important stages in the development of modern Australia, to better understand its political structure:

  • Pre-Colonial Period: Before European settlement, Australia was inhabited by Indigenous peoples with diverse cultures, languages and social structures. Their presence dates back at least 65,000 years.
  • Colonial Era: Captain James Cook’s voyage in 1770 marked the beginning of European interest in Australia. The British established their first colony at Sydney Cove in 1788, which was initially used as a penal colony. Over the following century, additional colonies were established, each with its own government and regulations.
  • Path to Federation: During the 19th century, the push towards federation grew, driven by factors like the need for a unified defence strategy, shared infrastructure, and standardized trade regulations. A series of conventions and referendums culminated in the approval of the Australian Constitution, and on January 1, 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was created, bringing six former colonies together as states within a federal structure.
  • Early 20th Century: The new nation faced challenges in defining its identity and role on the world stage. Australia actively participated in World War I, and the shared experience had a profound impact on national consciousness. The Interwar period saw the expansion of social welfare and industrial regulations.
  • World War II and Post-War Period: Australia’s alignment with the Allies during World War II deepened its ties with the United States. After the war, major immigration programmes transformed the demographic landscape, and the nation underwent significant economic and social changes.
  • 1960s and 70s: This era saw an increased focus on social reforms and human rights. A historic 1967 referendum led to constitutional changes that positively affected Indigenous rights. Australia fully abandoned the White Australia policy, which had restricted non-European immigration since 1901. In 1975, the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by the Governor-General resulted in a constitutional crisis, sparking debate over Australia’s constitutional monarchy status.
  • 1980s to Present: The late 20th century and early 21st century have been marked by economic reforms, a shift towards Asia-Pacific engagement, and debates over issues like climate change, Indigenous reconciliation, and Australia’s role within the Commonwealth of Nations. Several referendums have been held on matters like the republic movement, although none have resulted in significant constitutional change.
  • Contemporary Challenges: Australia’s political landscape continues to evolve, grappling with questions of national identity, international relations, environmental sustainability and social justice. Questions remain over Australia’s continued adoption of the British monarchy as their ‘head of state’.
  • Indigenous Recognition: Efforts for formal recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution and meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities remain ongoing and vital aspects of Australia’s political discourse.

Australia’s political and federal history reflects a journey from a collection of British colonies to a dynamic and independent nation. The shaping forces include Indigenous heritage, British colonial legacy, participation in global conflicts like World War I, social reform movements, economic transformation and the ongoing quest to define Australian identity and values in a global context. It’s a history marked by both challenges and successes, and the nation continues to face important questions about its future direction and place in the world.

Read more: Western Australia Off the Beaten Track

States in Australia

To help you understand Australia’s political makeup, let’s take a look at the six states in more detail. Australia’s federal system grants states substantial autonomy, allowing them to manage many of their affairs independently of the federal government. This includes:

  • Legislative Powers: Australian states have the ability to legislate in many areas, including health, education, transportation, and criminal law. They have their own constitutions, parliaments, and court systems, which function independently of the federal government.
  • Financial Autonomy: Although states have their revenue streams like taxation, they also rely on federal funding, especially through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) distribution. The federal government can exert influence over states through fiscal measures.
  • Limitations: The Australian Constitution does define some areas in which the federal government has exclusive powers, and in cases where state and federal laws conflict, the federal law prevails. Nevertheless, the states retain significant autonomy in many aspects of governance.

New South Wales

New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and is located in the southeastern part of the country. Sydney, its capital, is the nation’s largest city, boasting iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

  • Capital: Sydney
  • Area: 809,444 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 8.1 million
  • Natural Attractions: Blue Mountains, Byron Bay, Hunter Valley
  • Founded: 1788 as a penal colony

The history of NSW dates back to 1788 when the First Fleet arrived, establishing the first British colony in Australia. It played a crucial role in the early development of the nation, particularly during the gold rush of the 1850s.

The state has evolved into an economic powerhouse, with a strong emphasis on finance, manufacturing, and tourism. The rich cultural heritage and natural wonders, like the Blue Mountains, make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Flag of New South Wales

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Located to the south of New South Wales, Victoria is the smallest mainland state in area but has the second-largest population. Melbourne, its capital, is known for its vibrant arts scene and its coffee culture.

  • Capital: Melbourne
  • Area: 227,444 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 6.7 million
  • Natural Attractions: Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory
  • Founded: Separated from New South Wales in 1851

It’s known for its diverse landscapes that range from the rugged coastline along the Great Ocean Road to the fertile wineries of the Yarra Valley.

The state was originally part of New South Wales but was separated in 1851. The discovery of gold later that year triggered a gold rush, leading to a population boom and great wealth. Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, became one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the British Empire during that time.

In contemporary times, Victoria remains a cultural hub, known for its arts, music, and culinary scenes. Melbourne’s laneways are famous for their street art, cafes, and unique shopping experiences. The Great Ocean Road offers one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, featuring the famous Twelve Apostles. Victoria’s Yarra Valley is renowned for wine tasting and gourmet food.

The Grampians and Wilsons Promontory provide spectacular hiking and outdoor adventures. In winter, the Victorian Alps become a haven for skiing and snowboarding. Victoria also hosts significant sporting events, including the Melbourne Cup and Australian Open.

Flag of Victoria

South Australia

South Australia is positioned in the central part of the southern half of the continent, where the state capital, Adelaide, is renowned for its festivals and wine regions.

  • Capital: Adelaide
  • Area: 983,482 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 1.77 million
  • Natural Attractions: Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula
  • Founded: 1836 as a freely settled British province

Founded in 1836, South Australia was established as a freely settled British province, rather than a penal colony. It played a pioneering role in democratic reforms, including being the first Australian colony to grant women the right to vote.

The Barossa Valley and Clare Valley regions are a paradise for wine enthusiasts, offering some of the finest vineyards and culinary experiences. Kangaroo Island presents unique wildlife encounters and stunning natural beauty, the Flinders Ranges provide rugged terrain perfect for hiking and exploring and Coober Pedy is an unusual insight into the mining past. The Eyre Peninsula is a haven for seafood lovers and offers excellent opportunities for shark cage diving. South Australia’s diverse offerings make it a distinctive and enticing destination to explore.

Flag of South Australia

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Tasmania is an island state located approximately 240 kilometres south of the Australian mainland. Hobart is the state capital, a small city known for its arts scene, including the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the popular Salamanca Market.

  • Capital: Hobart
  • Area: 68,401 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 540,000
  • Natural Attractions: Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park, Bruny Island
  • Founded: Separated from New South Wales in 1825

The state was originally settled as a penal colony in 1803, and its convict history can still be explored at sites like Port Arthur. Tasmania was separated from New South Wales and became a separate colony in 1825. European colonisation resulted in the barbaric extinction of Tasmania’s indigenous population, in what is one of the darkest eras in Australian history.

For travellers today, the rugged landscapes of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wilderness Area, including Cradle Mountain and Freycinet National Park, offer incredible hiking opportunities. The island’s colonial history is reflected in the well-preserved Port Arthur Historic Site. Wildlife enthusiasts can encounter native species like the Tasmanian devil, and food lovers can indulge in local produce like seafood, cheese and Pinot Noir wine.

Flag of Tasmania

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Queensland, Australia’s northeastern state, is famous for its sunny weather and stunning coastal regions, including the Great Barrier Reef. Brisbane, the state’s capital, is a hub for arts and culture.

  • Capital: Brisbane
  • Area: 1,852,642 square kilometers
  • Population: Approximately 5.2 million
  • Natural Attractions: Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, Fraser Island
  • Founded: Separated from New South Wales in 1859

Queensland was officially established as a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859, with Brisbane as its capital. The state’s economy historically relied on agriculture, particularly the sugar and wool industries.

Queensland is home to the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, offering unparalleled snorkelling and diving experiences. The Daintree Rainforest provides a glimpse into ancient tropical landscapes, while the Gold Coast boasts nightlife and renowned surf spots.

From relaxing on the idyllic Whitsunday Islands to exploring the rugged terrain of the Outback, Queensland’s diverse landscapes and outdoor adventures, combined with its warm climate, make it a compelling destination to visit.

Flag of Queensland

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Western Australia

Western Australia covers the entire western third of the country, making it the largest state by area. Perth is its capital and economic hub, boasting beautiful white sand beaches and a remote location.

  • Capital: Perth
  • Area: 2,529,875 square kilometers
  • Population: Approximately 2.67 million
  • Natural Attractions: The Kimberley, Margaret River, Ningaloo Reef, Rottnest Island
  • Founded: Swan River Colony established in 1829

The British first settled the area in 1826, with the establishment of a military base at King George’s Sound. The Swan River Colony, now known as Perth, was founded in 1829. Indigenous culture is rich and diverse in WA, and the state is home to many Aboriginal communities that continue to practice their traditional customs and ways of life.

The state’s economy has historically been driven by mining, particularly gold, iron ore, and natural gas. The mining boom has led to significant investment and growth in the region, especially in the capital city of Perth.

Tourism is also an essential part of Western Australia’s economy, with attractions like the Kimberley region, Margaret River wine region, Ningaloo Reef and Rottnest Island drawing visitors from around the world.

Flag of Western Australia

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Territories in Australia

In addition to the six states, Australia has two major mainland territories, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT), and one minor, the Jervis Bay Territory (JBT).

The division of Australia into states and territories has historical roots, reflecting the colonization of different regions by separate British colonies.

The federation of these colonies in 1901 gave rise to the Commonwealth of Australia, with a Constitution that defines the powers of the states and the federal government.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The Australian Capital Territory, entirely surrounded by New South Wales, is home to the nation’s capital, Canberra. It serves as the centre of the Australian government, and unlike the states, it is a territory directly governed by the federal government.

  • Capital: Canberra
  • Area: 2,358 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 431,000
  • Natural Attractions: Namadgi National Park, Lake Burley Griffin, Australian Alps
  • Founded: 1911, with Canberra as the capital from 1927

The ACT was established in 1911 when land was transferred from New South Wales to create a separate district for the nation’s capital. The reason for this was to have a neutral location not belonging to any one state. Canberra was purpose-built as the capital and officially opened in 1927.

Canberra is known for its planned design, featuring geometric layouts, beautiful gardens, and significant national monuments and institutions. The city houses the Australian Parliament, the High Court, and several government departments and diplomatic missions.

Natural attractions like Namadgi National Park and Lake Burley Griffin provide outdoor recreational opportunities, and the city’s thriving arts and culture scene adds to its appeal.

Flag of the ACT

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Northern Territory (NT)

The Northern Territory (NT), stretching from the central regions to the northern coast, is a vast federal territory in Australia, known for its remote desert landscapes, rainforests and rich Aboriginal culture. Darwin, the capital of NT, is a vibrant multicultural city and an essential hub for industries like mining, agriculture, and tourism. The city was significantly rebuilt after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

  • Capital: Darwin
  • Area: 1,349,129 square kilometers
  • Population: Approximately 245,000
  • Natural Attractions: Uluru, Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge
  • Gained Self-Government: 1978

The area was first explored by Europeans in the 19th century and was initially part of New South Wales and later South Australia. The Northern Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth in 1911, and it gained self-government in 1978.

The Northern Territory is renowned for its iconic natural wonders, including Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge. Tourism is a major industry, drawing visitors to explore these stunning landscapes and learn about Aboriginal traditions and art.

Mining, particularly of gold and uranium, is another significant contributor to the economy, along with agriculture, focusing on cattle ranching and tropical crops.

Flag of the NT

Jervis Bay Territory (JBT)

The Jervis Bay Territory is a small but significant part of Australia, located on the southeastern coast. Unlike other territories, it is not self-governing and is administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport Regional Development and Communications.

  • Area: 67.8 square kilometres
  • Population: Approximately 400
  • Major Activities: Tourism, naval activities
  • Natural Attractions: Booderee National Park, Hyams Beach
  • Established: 1915
  • Governance: Administered by the federal government

The territory was established in 1915 when land was surrendered by New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government to give the Australian Capital Territory access to the sea. Although plans to develop a seaport never materialised, the territory retained its separate status. The Australian Defence Force has a presence in the territory, with the Royal Australian Navy using the area for training purposes.

Jervis Bay is renowned for its natural beauty, boasting some of Australia’s whitest sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular destination for tourists, particularly for those interested in water-based activities like swimming, snorkelling, and whale-watching.

The area is also home to the Booderee National Park, where visitors can explore native flora and fauna, including kangaroos and various bird species. Indigenous culture is significant in the region, with the local Aboriginal community playing an essential role in managing the national park.

Read more: Photos From The Road: East Coast Australia to the Whitsundays!

Australian Overseas Territories

Australia has seven external territories located outside the mainland. They are not considered part of any state or internal territory. Each of these territories has distinct governance arrangements and legal status. Some, like Norfolk Island and Christmas Island, have local administrations, while others are uninhabited and directly managed by the Australian federal government. These territories showcase Australia’s geographic diversity, encompassing tropical islands, coral reefs, and a significant portion of Antarctica.

Australia’s external territories are:

  • Norfolk Island: A subtropical island known for its unique flora and fauna, including the Norfolk Island pine. It has its own legislative assembly but is governed by Australia. Tourism and agriculture are key industries.
  • Christmas Island: Located in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is famous for its red crab migration. It has a diverse population and a rich natural heritage. It is governed by Australia with a local council.
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands: A group of coral islands, Cocos is known for its stunning beaches and marine life. It is an Australian territory with a small local population.
  • Coral Sea Islands: Comprising numerous small islands and reefs, the Coral Sea Islands are mostly uninhabited. They are valued for their biodiversity, especially as breeding grounds for seabirds and marine species.
  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands: These uninhabited islands are significant for their marine environment, including coral reefs and sea grass beds. They are a nature reserve under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Australian Antarctic Territory: Covering a large portion of Antarctica, this territory is important for scientific research. It is subject to the Antarctic Treaty, which designates Antarctica as a place for peaceful scientific exploration.
  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands: These subantarctic islands are known for their volcanic features and rich marine ecosystem. They are uninhabited and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Flag of Norfolk Island

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What’s the difference between State and Territory?

The division of Australia into six states and two territories has historical and constitutional roots, and the distinction between states and territories is a result of these historical factors, governance structure, and legislative powers.

  • Historical Factors: The six states originated from the separate British colonies that existed before the federation of Australia in 1901. Each colony had developed its own system of government and laws. When these colonies became states under the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia, they retained many of their original powers. The territories, on the other hand, were not self-governing colonies, and thus their status was different from the beginning.
  • Governance Structure: The territories (Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory) are directly administered by the Commonwealth government, while the states have independent legislative powers granted under the Australian Constitution. The territories were created by laws enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament, and their powers can be altered or revoked by that same body.
  • Legislative Powers: States have constitutionally protected powers, meaning that the Commonwealth cannot override state legislation in certain areas without the consent of the state. Territories, however, do not have this protection, and their laws can be altered by the Commonwealth Parliament without their consent. This fundamental difference in legislative power is a crucial factor in why territories are not states.
  • Economic and Population Factors: Another aspect to consider is the demographic and economic profile of the territories. The population size in both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory is significantly smaller than in most states. The economic resources and infrastructure also vary, contributing to the distinct governance structure.
  • Attempts to Change Status: There have been discussions and even a referendum regarding the potential statehood of the Northern Territory. In 1998, a referendum was held to gauge support for statehood, but it was narrowly defeated. The debate brought attention to the complex issues surrounding representation, governance and indigenous rights.
  • Indigenous Considerations: The Northern Territory, in particular, has a significant Indigenous population. The relationships with Indigenous communities, land rights, and self-determination have played a role in the debates surrounding statehood.
  • Australian Capital Territory’s Unique Role: The ACT was specifically created to house the nation’s capital, Canberra, and has a unique role as the administrative centre of the country. Its governance and administration are tailored to its function, further distinguishing it from the states.
Australia’s East Coast

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Why is Australia’s capital in Canberra?

The decision to locate Australia’s capital in Canberra was a strategic and symbolic resolution that stemmed from political, geographical and historical factors. These include the following:

  • Rivalry Between Sydney and Melbourne: In the early 20th century, Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities, were locked in a rivalry to become the capital. Each city was prominent in its own right, with Sydney being the first settlement and Melbourne being an economic powerhouse. A compromise was needed to settle the debate.
  • Geographical Consideration: The decision to place the capital in Canberra represented a geographical compromise. The site was roughly equidistant from Sydney and Melbourne and was chosen as a neutral ground that did not favour either city. The location also met various criteria such as climate, water supply, and defensibility.
  • Design and Symbolism: The capital’s design was determined by an international competition, won by American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Their plan embodied garden city principles, and the design was symbolic of democratic ideals. The layout and architecture were intended to represent the values and aspirations of the newly federated nation.
  • Constitutional Requirement: The Australian Constitution stipulated that the capital would be in New South Wales but at least 100 miles from Sydney. The Seat of Government Act 1908 further specified the region, leading to the choice of Canberra.
  • Nation-Building: Establishing a purpose-built capital represented a nation-building exercise, a way to forge a distinct Australian identity that was separate from the colonial past. Canberra was envisioned as a symbol of national unity and collaboration.

The establishment of Canberra as Australia’s capital was a decision that addressed interstate rivalries, met constitutional requirements and symbolised the democratic ideals of the newly formed Commonwealth. It reflects the complex interplay of historical, political, and geographical factors that shaped Australia’s federal system in the early 20th century.

An indigenous Australian flag.

When did Australia gain independence from the British Empire?

Australia’s path to independence was a gradual process rather than a single event, and it can be traced through several key milestones.

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed on January 1, 1901, with the federation of the six British colonies on the continent. This act of union created a self-governing dominion within the British Empire, giving Australia its own constitution and allowing for a federal government and parliament. However, the British government still retained some powers over Australia, including the ability to override Australian legislation.

In 1931, the Statute of Westminster further extended Australia’s legislative independence by removing British control over Australian laws. However, it was not adopted by the Australian government until 1942, and even then, with a clause that kept some British legal powers intact.

Finally, the Australia Act of 1986 severed all remaining legal ties to Britain. This act simultaneously ended the British Parliament’s ability to legislate for Australia and abolished appeals to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, making the High Court of Australia the final court of appeal.

The Australia Act is often considered the final step in Australia’s journey to full legal independence. Thus, Australia’s independence evolved over time through a series of legal and constitutional changes, culminating in the comprehensive autonomy achieved with the enactment of the Australia Act.

Sydney And The Blue Mountains In Pictures
Sydney, Britain’s first Australian colony

Is Australia in the Commonwealth?

Australia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, often simply referred to as the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a political association of 54 member states, most of them former territories of the British Empire.

Australia’s association with the Commonwealth began with its status as a collection of British colonies. When the country gained independence with the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, it retained the British monarch as its sovereign. Australia’s legal and political systems were largely modelled on British traditions, and the connection between the two countries remained strong.

The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an organization in which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status. Its activities are carried out through the Commonwealth Secretariat, with goals that include promoting democracy, human rights, good governance, social and economic development, and health and education.

In addition to these shared values, Commonwealth membership brings benefits such as cooperation in trade, cultural exchange, and mutual assistance in times of natural disasters. Australia actively participates in various Commonwealth programs and initiatives and hosts the Commonwealth Games.

The connection to the Commonwealth is a symbol of Australia’s historical ties to the United Kingdom and its commitment to the shared values and cooperative spirit that characterize the relationship between Commonwealth member states.

Broome Western Australia
The sun sets over the Indian Ocean

FAQ: How many states in Australia?

Here’s an FAQ exploring the question, ‘How many states are there in Australia?’:

Q1: How many states are there in Australia?

A: Australia is divided into six states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.

Q2: What are the territories of Australia?

A: In addition to the six states, Australia has three internal territories: the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Northern Territory, and the Jervis Bay Territory. There are also several external territories.

Q3: How are states different from territories in Australia?

A: States are sovereign entities with their own constitutions, while territories derive their powers from laws enacted by the federal government. This gives states more independence in governance compared to territories.

Q4: What is the largest state in Australia?

A: Western Australia is the largest state, covering over 2.5 million square kilometres.

Q5: What is the smallest state in Australia?

A: Tasmania is the smallest state, with an area of around 68,401 square kilometres.

Q6: How are the states and territories governed?

A: Each state has its own government with the power to legislate on a wide range of matters. Territories are governed by the federal government, although some have been granted self-government.

Q7: Can I travel freely between states and territories?

A: Generally, yes. However, there might be restrictions or requirements depending on various factors like public health concerns.

Q8: What’s the capital of Australia, and in which state or territory is it located?

A: The capital of Australia is Canberra, and it is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Q9: Why does Australia have both states and territories?

A: The division between states and territories has historical and constitutional roots. States were former British colonies, while territories were areas administered by the federal government.

Q10: Are there any movements or discussions to change the number of states or territories?

A: Over the years, there have been discussions and proposals for changing state boundaries or creating new states, but as of now, there are no concrete plans for major changes.