From the dazzling lights and buzz of big cities to the sweeping isolation of the outback, Australia is a land of contrasts. Thanks to the country's vast size and diverse landscapes, expats will have plenty to explore in the Land Down Under.

If there was such a thing as an ideal expat location, Australia would certainly be a competitive choice for the title. In fact, it consistently ranks amongst one of the safest and happiest countries for expats to live in. The Australian lifestyle is driven by outdoor pursuits and is truly multicultural, especially when it comes to cuisine and traditions.

The fundamentals of family and friends are important to Australians, and the nation’s strong spirit of egalitarianism has drawn a steady stream of immigrants from the UK, Europe and Asia to its ideal climate and naturally beautiful environment. Popular Australian expat cities include SydneyMelbournePerthBrisbane and Adelaide.

Australia has long been a destination of choice for students and young professionals from all over the world who move to the country to spend a few months taking up employment on a working holiday visa. It is also popular with expat families looking for a better environment to bring up children, as well as pensioners who move to Australia to spend their retirement years in the sun.

The government places a high premium on skills and enforces equally stringent measures to keep Australian immigration levels under control. So while Australia is a popular destination for expats, a strict screening process picks out those professionals with the skills desired to keep the economy in good health.

A large number of expats who move to Australia do so with their children. The country is an excellent place to raise a family as properties are often large, there is more scope for children to spend recreational time outdoors and there is a good range of schooling options. Furthermore, expats living in Australia will also have access to exceptional healthcare facilities in both the public and private systems.

The diverse, striking scenery and rugged beauty of the vast landscape, the easygoing nature of the local people, and the sense that a new beginning is available to anyone with the skills and energy to make it happen all make Australia an expat destination well worth considering.

Fast facts

Population: About 25 million

Capital city: Canberra

Neighbouring countries: Islands surrounding Australia include Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the northeast, New Caledonia to the east and New Zealand to the southeast.

Geography: Due to Australia's size, the country has a variety of landscapes. There are tropical rainforests in the northeast, while the southwest, east and southeast are made up of mountain ranges. In the centre of Australia is dry desert, known as the outback. The outback makes up the largest portion of land in Australia. 

Political system: Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Christianity

Main language: English

Money: The Australian dollar (AUD), divided into 100 cents. ATMs can be found throughout Australia and expats should be able to open a bank account with relative ease.

Tipping: If a service charge is not added to the bill, a tip is always welcomed, but not expected. 

Time: Australia has three time zones. Eastern (GMT +10), Central (GMT +9.5) and Western (GMT +8). Daylight saving time is observed.

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are the norm.

Internet domain: .au

International dialling code: +61

Emergency contacts: 000 for the police, ambulance and fire services.

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side. The national transport system in Australia is excellent, and for long journeys, options include travelling by plane, train and inter-city bus within the country.