Australians (/əˈstreɪliən/), colloquially known as Aussies
(/ˈɒzi/), are people associated with Australia, sharing a common
history, culture, and language (Australian English). Present-day
Australians are citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, governed by
its nationality law.
The majority of
Australians descend from the peoples of the British
Colony of New South Wales
Colony of New South Wales was established by the Kingdom of
Great Britain in 1788, with the arrival of the First Fleet, and five
other colonies were established in the early 19th century, now forming
the six present-day Australian states. Many early settlements were
penal colonies, and transported convicts (and, later, ex-convicts)
made up a significant proportion of the population in most colonies.
Large-scale immigration did not occur until the 1850s, following a
series of gold rushes. Further waves of immigration occurred after the
First and Second World Wars, with many post-World War II migrants
coming from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Pacific Islands, Africa,
and Latin America. Prior to British settlement,
inhabited by various indigenous peoples – Aboriginal Australians,
Aboriginal Tasmanians, and
Torres Strait Islanders, a Melanesian
people. A small percentage of present-day
Australians descend from
The development of a separate Australian identity and national
character is most often linked with the period surrounding the First
World War, which gave rise to the concept of the Anzac spirit. The
Eureka Rebellion of 1854 and various events of the Second World War,
most notably the Kokoda Track campaign, are also frequently mentioned
in association with Australian identity. However, Australian culture
predates the federation of the Australian colonies by several decades
– Australian literature, most notably the work of the bush poets,
dates from colonial times, while sporting teams representing the whole
Australia have been in existence since the 1870s. As a result of
many shared linguistic, historical, cultural and geographic
Australians have often identified closely with New
Zealanders in particular along with, to a lesser extent, other
2 Racial and ethnic groups
3.2 Historical population
4 Current population
7 External links
Main articles: Colonial
Australia and Immigration to Australia
The majority of
Australians or their ancestors immigrated within the
past three centuries, with the exception of the Indigenous population
and other outer lying islands who became Australian through expansion
of the country. Despite its multi-ethnic composition, the culture of
Australia held in common by most
Australians can also be referred to
as mainstream Australian culture, a
Western culture largely derived
from the traditions of British and Irish colonists, settlers, and
immigrants. Large-scale immigration occurred after the First and
Second World Wars, with many post-World War II migrants coming from
Southern and Eastern
Europe introducing a variety of elements.
Immigration from the Middle East, south and east Asia, Pacific
Islands, Africa, and
Latin America has also been having an impact.
The predominance of the English language, the existence of a
democratic system of government drawing upon the British traditions of
Westminster Government, Parliamentarianism and constitutional
monarchy, American constitutionalist and federalist traditions,
Christianity as the dominant religion, and the popularity of sports
originating in (or influenced by) the British Isles, are all evidence
of a significant
Australian culture has
diverged significantly since British settlement.
Australians are referred to as "Aussie" and "Antipodean".
Australians were historically referred to as "Colonials", "British"
and "British subjects". Australian identity draws on a
multicultural, European and British cultural heritage.
Racial and ethnic groups
See also: Demographics of Australia
European Australians and
Common European ancestries 2011 Census
Australians of Anglo and other European descent are the
dominant majority in Australia, estimated at 85–92% of the total
population. Historically, European immigrants had great
influence over Australian history and society, which resulted in the
Australia as a Western country.
Since soon after the beginning of British settlement in 1788, people
of European descent have formed the majority of the population in
Australia. The majority of
Australians are of British – English,
Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, or Manx – and Irish ancestral origin
(grouped together as "Anglo-Celtic").
Although some observers stress Australia's convict history, the vast
majority of early settlers came of their own free will. Far more
Australians are descended from assisted immigrants than from convicts,
the majority were British and Irish. About 20% of
descendants of convicts. Most of the first Australian settlers
came from London, the Midlands and the North of England, and
Ireland. 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.
Northern European settlers from England, Scotland, Wales, and
Ireland) have been highly influential in shaping the nation's culture.
By the mid-1840s, 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. In the 1840s, 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,
of which 13.5 percent were Scots. 5.3 percent of the convicts
transported to Eastern
Australia between 1789 and 1852 were Scots.
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.
Germans formed the largest
non-British community for most of the 19th century. The census of
1901 showed that 98 percent of
Australians had British ancestral
origins, which was considered as "more British than Britain
itself". Between 1901 and 1940, 140,000 non-British European
immigrants arrived in
Australia (about 16 percent of the total
intake). Before World War II, 13.6 percent were born overseas, and
80 percent of those were British. In 1939 and 1945, still 98
Australians had British/
Anglo-Celtic ancestral origins.
Until 1947, the vast majority of the population were of British
origin. During the 1950s,
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. In 1971, 70
percent of the foreign born were of European origin. Abolition of the
Australia Policy in 1957 by the Menzies government, often
incorrectly attributed to a later Labor government, led to a
significant increase in non-European immigration, mostly from
the Middle East.
Melburnians during the live music rally in 2010
Almost one Australian in four was born elsewhere.[when?] In 1981,
around 50 percent of immigrants were from Europe, and 2.7 percent were
from Asia. In 1998 about 40 percent of all immigrants to Australia
had been born in Asia.
People from the
United Kingdom remain the
largest group amongst those born overseas. In 2001 were 51 percent
from Europe, 29 percent from Asia, 11 percent from Oceania, and 4
percent came from the Americas. In 1996, over 8 million
Australians had at least three ancestries, and over 3 million had four
By 2000, a majority of Australia's population was native born, and
over 90 percent were descended from people from the British Isles.
In 2007, more than 92 percent of all
Australians descended from
Europeans. In 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. 28 percent of the Australian population
reported mixed or multiple ancestries in the 2006 census. In 2006,
63% of the population had reported British ancestry, although many
others reported their ancestry as simply "Australian".
Main article: Asian Australians
At the 2011 Census 2.4 million
Australians (12%) declared that they
had an Asian ancestral background. For the purposes of
aggregating data, the
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics in its
Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups
(ASCCEG) has grouped certain ethnic groups into certain categories,
including East Asian e.g. Chinese Australians, Southeast Asian e.g.
Vietnamese Australians, South Asian e.g.
Indian Australians and
Central Asian e.g. Afghan Australians.
Main articles: Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal Australians, and
Torres Strait Islanders
Indigenous Australians are descendants of the original inhabitants of
the Australian continent. Their ancestors are believed to have
Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived
Australia around 50,000 years ago. The Torres Strait
Islanders are a distinct people of
Melanesian ancestry, indigenous to
Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northernmost tip of
Queensland near Papua New Guinea, and some nearby settlements on the
mainland. The term "Aboriginal" is traditionally applied to only the
indigenous inhabitants of mainland
Australia and Tasmania, along with
some of the adjacent islands.
Indigenous Australians is an inclusive
term used when referring to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait
islanders, i.e.: the "first peoples".
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. 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.
James Cook claimed the east coast for Great Britain in 1770; also the
west coast was later settled by Britain. At that time, the indigenous
population was estimated to have been between 315,000 and 750,000,
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. 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.
A census in 2011 showed 60.2% of Australia's population declared
themselves as having European ancestry. In addition, many other
respondents described themselves as simply "Australian", which does
not imply Indigenous descent. The total indigenous population is
estimated to be about 520,000 individuals, including people of mixed
descent. 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).
In the 2011 Census residents were asked to describe their ancestry, in
which up to two could be nominated. Proportionate to the Australian
resident population, the most commonly nominated ancestries
New Zealander (Pākehā/Māori)
New Zealander (Pākehā)
In the 2011 census, 53.7% of people had both parents born in Australia
and 34.3% of people had both parents born overseas.
The data in the table is sourced from the Australian Bureau of
Statistics 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.
Crown colonies (Pre-Federation)
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.
Statistics do not exist as to the number of
Australians who currently
are dual citizens. In 2000, it was estimated to be 4 to 5 million
Main article: Demographics of Australia
The current Australian population is estimated at 25,772,000 (7 April
2018). This does not include an estimated 1 million Australians
living overseas, but it includes the estimated 24% of
overseas (in various nations, but predominantly the United Kingdom,
New Zealand, Italy, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, the Philippines,
and Greece). There are an estimated 1 million Australians
(approximately 5% of the population) residing outside Australia. The
Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement
Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement facilitates open migration to and from
Main article: Languages of Australia
Australia has no official language, English has been
entrenched as the de facto national language since at least federation
in 1901. According to the 2011 census, 76.8% of people
(16,509,291) spoke only English. 20.4% of the population spoke two or
more languages at home. Other languages spoken included Mandarin 1.6%,
Cantonese 1.2% and Greek 1.2%.
Main article: Religion in Australia
Australia has no official religion; the Constitution prohibits the
government from establishing one, or interfering with the freedom of
Australians have various religions and spiritual beliefs. While 22.3%
of the population reported as having no religion, of those reporting
as having religious affiliations, the majority (61.1%) were Christian
according to the 2011 census. 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 was about 1.5
million in 2001, about 7% of the population (21.5 million)
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Media related to
Australia at Wikimedia Commons
States and Territories
Intelligence and security
Gross state product
Ancestry of Australians
Ancestral background of
Australians and overseas-born Australians
Most declared ancestries in 2016 Australian census:
Torres Strait Islanders
British and Celtic or Anglo-Celtic
Papua New Guinean
South Sea Islanders
according to Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census,
2012–2013 and Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia
- Stories from the Census, 2016
United Arab Emirates