My guess is that many people back in the U.S. don't really understand how "big" Australia. After spending about 30 minutes trying to find a good comparison map, here's the best I could come up with:The point is that the continental United States is roughly the size of Australia. The state of Queensland, where we live, is about the size of the Northeastern U.S. and Midwest...put together. However, the population is much, much smaller. As of this morning, according to the official government population clock, the resident population of Australia is 21,143,490. This would make Australia the third most populated state in the U.S., right below Texas (23,507,783) and just above New York (19,306,183). Queensland itself has a population just over 4 million.
Perhaps more interesting is to consider the size of the Australian economy. Here's an interesting map (full of inaccuracies, mind you) from a great blog about maps. It shows each U.S. state renamed with a country that has about the same size GDP as that state (click to make bigger).
As you can see, Australia has a GDP around the same size of Ohio (pop. 11,478,000). But I think the beaches are nicer here.