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"Australian" redirects here. For other uses, see Australian (disambiguation).

Total population
Regions with significant populations
100,000 (Greek Australians)[4][5]
30,000 (20,000 Italian Australians)[9][10]
20,000–25,000 (Lebanese Australians)[11][12]
English · Aboriginal languages · Tasmanian languages · Torres Strait Island languages · Others
Christianity: Protestantism, Roman Catholicism; No religion or agnosticism; Other religions (Orthodox Christianity or Buddhism)[26]

Australians (local /əˈstrljənz/) are defined as people native to or resident in Australia.[27][28]

Australians are referred to as 'Aussie' and 'Antipodean'.[29][30] Australians were historically referred to as 'Colonials', 'British' and 'British subjects'.[31][32][33][34] Australian citizenship did not exist before 26 January 1949. Before then, people born in Australia were British subjects. People born in Australia (including Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island) on or after 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident at the time of the person's birth.[35]


The current Australian population is estimated at 24,103,000 (6 July 2014).[36] This does not include an estimated 1 million Australians living overseas (see above), but it includes the estimated 24% of Australians born overseas (in various nations, but predominantly the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, China, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, and Greece).[37] There are an estimated 1 million Australians (approximately 5% of the population) residing outside Australia. The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement facilitates open migration to and from New Zealand.[38]


The data in the table is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics[39][40] Note that population estimates in the table below do not include the Aboriginal population before 1961. Estimates of Aboriginal population prior to European settlement range from 300,000 to one million, with archaeological finds indicating a sustainable population of around 750,000.[41]


Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent.[42] Indigenous Australians migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago[43] and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago.[44][45] The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous to the Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northernmost tip of Queensland near Papua New Guinea. The term "Aboriginal" is traditionally applied to only the indigenous inhabitants of mainland Australia and Tasmania, along with some of the adjacent islands, i.e.: the "first peoples". Indigenous Australians is an inclusive term used when referring to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.

Dispersing across the Australian continent over time, the ancient peoples expanded and differentiated into hundreds of distinct groups, each with its own language and culture.[46] More than 400 distinct Australian Aboriginal peoples have been identified across the continent, distinguished by unique names designating their ancestral languages, dialects, or distinctive speech patterns.[47]

Lieutenant James Cook claimed the east coast for Great Britain in 1770; the west coast was later also settled by Britain. At that time, the indigenous population was estimated to have been between 315,000 and 750,000,[48] divided into as many as 500 tribes speaking many different languages. In the 2006 Census, 407,700 respondents declared they were Aboriginal, 29,512 declared they were Torres Strait Islanders, and a further 17,811 declared they were both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.[49] After adjustments for undercount, the indigenous population as of end June 2006 was estimated to be 517,200, representing about 2.5% of the population.[48]

Most Australians are still of British ancestry.[50] More than 92 percent of all Australians descend from Europeans.[51] Anglo-Celtic Australians (English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish or Irish ancestral origin) make up 74 percent of the Australian population.[52] 12 percent of the Australian population have an Asian ancestral origin.[53] In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. The most commonly reported ancestries were English (33.7 per cent) and Australian (33 per cent). A further 6 of the leading 10 ancestries reflected the European heritage in Australia – Irish (9.7 per cent), Scottish (8.3 per cent), Italian (4.3 per cent), German (4.2 per cent), Greek (1.8 per cent) and Dutch (1.6 per cent). Other most common ancestries in the top 10 were Chinese (4.0 per cent) and Indian (1.8 per cent).[54]

Although some observers stress Australia's convict history, the vast majority of early settlers came of their own free will.[55] Far more Australians are descended from assisted immigrants than from convicts, the majority were British and Irish.[56] About 20% of Australians are descendants of convicts.[57] Most of the first Australian settlers came from London, the Midlands and the North of England, and Ireland.[58][59][60] Settlers that arrived throughout the 19th century were from all parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland, a significant proportion of settlers came from the Southwest and Southeast of England, from Ireland and from Scotland.[61] Anglo-Celtic Australians (Northern European settlers from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland) have been highly influential in shaping the nation's culture. By the mid-1840's, the numbers of freeborn settlers had overtaken the convict population. In 1888, 60 percent of the Australian population had been born in Australia, and almost all had British ancestral origins. Out of the remaining 40 percent, 34 percent had been born in the British Isles, and 6 percent were of European origin, mainly from Germany and Scandinavia.[62] In the 1840's, Scots-born immigrants constituted 12 percent of the Australian population. There were 1.3 million British migrants to Australia in the period from 1861–1914, 13.5 percent were Scots. 5.3 percent of the convicts transported to Eastern Australia between 1789 and 1852 were Scots.[63] By 1850, there were 290,000 Aboriginal Australians. The European population grew from 0.3 percent of the population of the continent at 1800 to 58.6 percent at 1850.[64] Germans formed the largest non-British community for most of the 19th century.[65] The census of 1901 showed that 98 percent of Australians had British ancestral origins – "more British than Britain itself".[66] Between 1901 and 1940, 140,000 non-British European immigrants arrived in Australia (about 16 percent of the total intake).[67] Before World War II, 13.6 percent were born overseas, 80 percent of those were British.[68] In 1939 and 1945, still 98 percent of Australians had British/Anglo-Celtic ancestral origins.[69] Until 1947, the vast majority of the population were of British origin.[70] During the 1950's, Australia was the destination of 30 per cent of Dutch emigrants and the Netherlands-born became numerically the second largest non-British group in Australia.[71] In 1971, 70 percent of the foreign born were of European origin. In 1984, 29 percent of the foreign born were from Europe.[72]

Almost one Australian in four was born elsewhere. In 1981, around 50 percent of immigrants were from Europe, and 2.7 percent were from Asia.[73] In 1998 about 40 percent of all immigrants to Australia had been born in Asia.[74] People from the United Kingdom remain the largest group amongst those born aboard.[75] In 2001 were 51 percent from Europe, 29 percent from Asia, 11 percent from Oceania, and 4 percent came from the Americas.[76]

Abolition of the White Australia Policy in the mid-1970s led to a significant increase in non-European immigration, mostly from Asia and the Middle East. 60.2% of Australia's population declared European ancestry in the 2011 census. In addition, many of those who chose Australian ethnicity were not of indigenous ethnicity. The total indigenous population is estimated to be about 520,000 individuals, including people of mixed descent.[48] The population of Queensland also includes descendants of South Sea Islanders brought over for indentured servitude in the 19th century.

In 1996, over 8 million Australians had at least three ancestries, and over 3 million had four or more.[77] 28 percent of the Australian population reported mixed or multiple ancestries in the 2006 census.[78]

In the 2011 Australian Census residents are asked to describe their ancestry, in which up to two could be nominated. Proportionate to the Australian resident population, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:[79][80]

At the 2006 Census 455,026 people (or 2.3% of the total Australian population) reported they were of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.[49]

In Australia, 53.7% of people had both parents born in Australia and 34.3% of people had both parents born overseas.[81]



Although Australia has no official language, English has always been entrenched as the de facto national language.[82] According to the 2011 census, 76.8% of people (16,509,291) spoke only English. 20.4% of the population (1,579,949) spoke two or more languages at home. Other languages spoken included Mandarin 1.6%, Italian 1.4%, Arabic 1.3%, Cantonese 1.2% and Greek 1.2%.[81]


Christianity (as % of total)
Roman Catholicism 25.8%
Anglicanism 18.7%
Other denomination 19.4%
Source: ABS[83]
Main article: Religion in Australia

Australians have various religions and spiritual beliefs. The Australian Bureau of Statistics gathers information on religious belief in the national census.[83] As in many Western countries, the level of active participation in church worship is lower than would be indicated by the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christian; weekly attendance at church services is about 1.5 million, or about 7.5% of the population.[84]

Christianity 63.9% Islam 1.7%
No religion 18.7% Judaism 0.4%
No response 11.2% Other 2%
Buddhism 2.1% Source: ABS[83]


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