Isn’t it strange… Notes on Australia

It’s time to note down some cultural impressions I’ve made about Australia; in particular, I will focus on a few things which strike me as somehow strange. Just to clarify, I treat these mainly as rhetorical questions as the reasons are clear enough for most of them.

Isn’t it strange..

  • .. that Australia has the biggest houses in the world[1], while simultaneously being the country that most increases the time spent outdoors for expats?[2, 3] With a culture geared towards the outdoors life and a climate to match, why would people need the biggest indoor dwellings in the world?

  • .. that Australia has one of the best solar power generation potential in the world[4], yet produces over 80% of its electricity with coal?[5]

  • .. that Australia have some of the best-managed and sustainable fisheries in the world[6, 7], plenty of fresh produce and even wine locally available – i.e. a good potential for an ideal Mediterranean diet – but Australians are still among the most obese (if not the most obese) people in the world? [8, 9]

  • .. that people in Australia are generally friendlier and more willing to help (my subjective experience, of course) than in Finland, despite Finland scoring quite a bit lower on the Hofstede’s individuality index?[10]

  • .. that people consider USA the great “melting pot”, even though only 11% of people in the USA are foreign-born, compared to over 25% in Australia?[11, 12]


  1. Australians live in worlds biggest houses
  2. HSBC: Expat Survey
  3. HSBC: Offshore offspring
  4. Desertec Foundation: Australia’s Concentrating Solar Power Potential
  5. Australian Coal Association: Electricity Production
  6. Marine Stewardship Council: Certified fisheries
  7. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: Fisheries resource management
  8. Stewart, S: Australia’s Future ‘Fat Bomb’
  9. NationMaster: Obesity Statistics
  10. Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions: Finland and Australia
  11. US Census Bureau: State & Country QuickFacts
  12. Australian Bureau of statistics: Over one quarter of Australians were born overseas
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5 Responses to Isn’t it strange… Notes on Australia

  1. db says:

    On that last point, Sami – I do suspect that Oz has a less rich (more controlled) racial & national mix than the US does – hence the US’s description as a ‘melting pot’.
    And I do find it hard to believe that our antipodean cousins are really chubbier than the yanks, on the whole.

  2. Sami says:

    True, the US probably does have a wider ethnic mix. And of course the raw numbers are much bigger, it being a much bigger country population-wise.

  3. Andrew says:

    Also in terms of “melting pot”, according to ABS in 2008 30% of marriages in Australia that year were between people born in different countries.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find comparable stats for the US, but according to the US Census in 1992, 2.2% of all married couples were “interracial”.

  4. Heikki says:

    I like this kind of comparisions. In many cases we regard some phenomenon as a unique one when it isn’t and on the other hand don’t see the peculiarities in our own society.

  5. Rowena says:

    I’ve never really thought of America as a great melting pot (or great anything!) but that is by the by! I think the interesting thing about that stat is that Australia’s population is still very new, hence so many being foreign born. I am the only Australian in my family!

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