Happy Australia Day!
Australia has come a long way since being 'claimed' by the British in 1770. Settled through the use of New South Wales as a penal colony by the British Empire, Australia has grown into a prosperous, independent multicultural society.
Today, on Australia Day (26 January), when the country commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (probably not what is celebrated among the populous due to its colonial effects), we look at how Australia has grown over the past centuries to be a major power in world culture and politics.
Traditionally, Australia is renowned for its sporting achievements, routinely ranking amongst the highest winning countries at the Olympic Games as well as being among the best countries in the world in the fields of both rugby and cricket. In fact, Australia has won the Rugby League World Cup nine times and the Cricket World Cup four.
However, it is not just sporting talent that the country is famous for: Australia has produced some of the biggest entertainment artists of the last couple of decades.
Music-wise, the nation has produced the likes of Kylie Minogue, INXS, Savage Garden and rock legends AC/DC and it is estimated that Australian musicians have now sold over 400 million albums worldwide.
Not just that, but Hollywood has developed a love of all things Antipodean with some of the film industry's biggest stars originating from Down Under. In fact, with the likes of Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Eric Bana, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Guy Pearce and, most recently, Sam Worthington, it is no surprise to learn that Australian movie stars are among Hollywood's biggest earners, attracting more than USD$1 billion to the US box office each year (not including Avatar this year).
A recent survey commissioned for The Courier-Mail revealed that since 2000, the top 12 Aussie actors in Hollywood have appeared in films that have made USD$8.94 billion. Hugh Jackman topped the list, with his films making USD$1.4 billion in the past eight years alone.
Of course, Australia has also produced one of the most successful businessmen in the world in the form of tycoon Rupert Murdoch. In fact, Murdoch's Media Group encompasses the likes of Warner Brothers, Sky TV and News Corp. and his success in business has seen him amass a fortune in its billions, with his own net worth valued at $4 billion.
The country also generates a large amount of its GDP from unique products only found in Australia. Home-produced condiment Vegemite is popular all around the world, selling 22 million jars every year. Even the country's most enduring symbol, the kangaroo, is a successful export with kangaroo meat being imported by over 55 countries.
With such global success, its no surprise Australians will have a lot to celebrate today: and why not, as the nation proves itself to have real longevity as a cultural, financial and political institution.
Now crack open a tinny and put another shrimp on the barbie!
Like this article? Get the RSS feed: