Helped by its massive natural resources, Australia has weathered the global financial crisis better than other Group of 20 economies. In 2012, its economy grew 3.1 per cent, compared with 1.6 per cent in the United States and 1.1 per cent in Canada.
Gillard keeps power
Julia Gillard is the first woman Prime Minister of Australia. Gillard took over the ruling Labor Party from China-friendly Kevin Rudd when his popularity seemed to be slipping. She called an election when she thought she was doing well as leader of the party.
But the election resulted in Australia's first hung parliament in 70 years. That means no party had enough seats to rule, and both the front-runners had to ask other MPs to join them. In the race for outside support, Gillard won and retained the top job.