A prosperous developed country, Australia is the world's thirteenth largest economy. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.
Australia, former penal colony, home to the Great Barrier Reef, and producer of world-class sauvignon blanc, has never exactly been synonymous with a high cost of living. Yet because of a strong economy and proximity to the booming Asia Pacific region, many overseas visitors might find it more expensive to slip an extra shrimp -- or just about anything else for that matter -- on the barbie here than in most other countries around the world. In fact, in a recent survey, six Australian cities placed among the top 30 most expensive in the world, according to global human resources firm ECA International. Just two years ago, not a single Australian city ranked in the top 100.