The demography of Australia covers basic statistics, most populous cities, ethnicity and religion. The population of Australia is estimated to be 24,894,100 as of 5 April 2018. Australia is the 52nd most populous country in the world and the most populous Oceanian country. Its population is concentrated mainly in urban areas and is expected to exceed 28 million by 2030.
Australia's population has grown from an estimated population of between 300,000 and 1,000,000 at the time of British settlement in 1788 due to numerous waves of immigration during the period since. Also due to immigration from other continents, the European component's share of the population is declining as a percentage.
Australia has an average population density of 3.2 persons per square kilometre of total land area, which makes it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. This is generally attributed to its semi-arid and desert geography, which renders most of its territory uninhabitable for humans. Another factor is urbanisation, with 89% of its population living in a handful of urban areas, Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries. The life expectancy of Australia in 1999–2001 was 79.7 years, among the highest in the world.
These first inhabitants of Australia were originally hunter-gatherers, who over the course of many succeeding generations diversified widely throughout the continent and its nearby islands. Although their technical culture remained static—depending on wood, bone, and stone tools and weapons—their spiritual and social life was highly complex. Most spoke several languages, and confederacies sometimes linked widely scattered tribal groups. Aboriginal population density ranged from approximately one person per 3 km2 (1 sq mi) along the coasts to one person per 90 km2 (35 sq mi) in the arid interior. Food procurement was usually a matter for the nuclear family, requiring an estimated 3 days of work per week. There was little large game, and outside of some communities in the more fertile south-east, they had no agriculture.
Dutch navigators landed on the coasts of modern Western Australia and Queensland several times during the 17th century. Captain James Cook claimed the east coast for Great Britain in 1770, the west coast was later settled by Britain also. At that time, the indigenous population was estimated to have been between 315,000 and 750,000, divided into many tribes speaking many different languages. In the 2011 census, 495,757 respondents declared they were Aboriginal, 31,407 declared they were Torres Strait Islander, and a further 21,206 declared they were both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Since the end of World War II, efforts have been made both by the government and by the public to be more responsive to Aboriginal rights and needs.
Today, most of Australia's Indigenous population live on the east coast of Australia, where almost 60% of Indigenous Australians live in New South Wales (208,476) and Queensland (188,954) which roughly represents 2–5% of those state's populations. The Northern Territory has an Indigenous population of almost 70,000 and represents about 30% of the total Northern Territory population.
Australia contains five cities that consist of over one million people. Most of Australia's population live close to coastlines.
|6||Gold Coast–Tweed Heads||Qld/NSW||646,983||16||Toowoomba||Qld||114,024|
The population density in Australia was last reported as 2.91/km2 (7.5/sq mi). The density was 2.8/km2 (7.3/sq mi) in 2008 and 2.86/km2 (7.4/sq mi) in 2009. That made Australia the 3rd least densely populated country in the world, after Namibia and Mongolia.
The following figures are ABS estimates for the resident population of Australia, based on the 2001 and 2006 Censuses and other data.
|Land area||Population density||% of population
|km2||mi2||per km2||per mi2|
|New South Wales||7,797,800||800,642||309,130||8.64||3||63%|||
|Australian Capital Territory||406,400||2,358||910||151.49||58||100%|||
In 2009, the estimated rates were:
At the time of Australian Federation in 1901, the rate of natural increase was 14.9 persons per 1,000 population. The rate increased to a peak of 17.4 per thousand population in the years 1912, 1913 and 1914. During the Great Depression, the rate declined to a low of 7.1 per thousand population in 1934 and 1935. Immediately after World War II, the rate increased sharply as a result of the start of the post–World War II baby boom and the immigration of many young people who then had children in Australia. A rate plateau of over 13.0 persons per 1,000 population occurred for every year from 1946 to 1962.
There has been a fall in the rate of natural increase since 1962 due to falling fertility. In 1971, the rate of natural increase was 12.7 persons per 1,000 population; a decade later it had fallen to 8.5. In 1996 the rate of natural increase fell below seven for the first time, with the downward trend continuing in the late 1990s. Population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that continued low fertility, combined with the increase in deaths from an ageing population, will result in natural increase falling below zero sometime in the mid-2030s. However, in 2006 the fertility rate rose to 1.81, one of the highest rates in the OECD.
Since 1901, the crude death rate has fallen from about 12.2 deaths per 1,000 population, to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 population in 2006.
|Average population (x 1,000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1,000)||Crude death rate (per 1,000)||Natural change (per 1,000)||Fertility rates||Net overseas migration|
At the 2016 census, 26% of the Australian resident population, or 6,163,667 people, were born overseas. The Australian resident population consists of people who were born in the following countries:
|Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016 census)|
|Place of birth||Estimated resident population[a]|
For more information about immigration see Immigration to Australia.
The earliest accepted timeline for the first arrivals of indigenous Australians to the continent of Australia places this human migration to at least 65,000 years ago, most probably from the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea.
Captain James Cook claimed the east coast for Great Britain in 1770, the west coast was later settled by Britain also. 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.
For generations, the vast majority of both colonial-era settlers and post-Federation immigrants came from the British Isles, although the gold rushes also drew migrants from other countries, notably from China. Since the end of World War II, Australia's population more than doubled, spurred by large-scale European immigration during the immediate post-war decades. At this time, the White Australia policy discouraged non-European immigration.
Abolition of the White Australia Policy in the mid-1970s led to a significant increase in non-European immigration, mostly from Asia.
Until the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the British Isles, and a majority of Australians have some British or Irish ancestry. These Australians form an ethnic group known as Anglo-Celtic Australians. In the 2016 Australian census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:
At the 2016 census, 47.3% of people had both parents born in Australia and 34.4% of people had both parents born overseas.
While historically a largely Protestant nation, Australia has become a religiously diverse country in recent decades. While Australia has no official religion, the various governments of Australia refer to the Christian God in their ceremonies, as do the various Australian Courts.
Christianity, in particular Protestant Christianity, is the predominant faith of Australia, though this is diminishing. In an optional question on the 2016 Census, 52.1% of the Australian population declared some variety of Christianity. Historically the percentage has been far higher and the religious landscape of Australia is changing and diversifying. Also in 2016, 30.1% of Australians stated "no religion" and a further 9.6% chose not to answer the question. The remaining population is a diverse group which includes Muslims (2.6%), Buddhists (2.4%), Hindus (1.9%), Sikhs (0.5%), and Jews (0.4%).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census Dictionary statement on religious affiliation states the purpose for gathering such information:
Data on religious affiliation are used for such purposes as planning educational facilities, aged persons' care and other social services provided by religion-based organisations; the location of church buildings; the assigning of chaplains to hospitals, prisons, armed services and universities; the allocation of time on public radio and other media; and sociological research.
As in many Western countries, the level of active participation in religious services is lower than would be indicated by the proportion of the population identifying themselves as affiliated with a religion; weekly attendance at Christian church services is about 1.5 million, or about 7.5% of the population. Christian charitable organisations, hospitals and schools play a prominent role in welfare and education services. The Catholic education system is the second biggest sector after government schools, with more than 650,000 students (and around 21 per cent of all secondary school enrolments).
Although Australia has no official language, English has always been entrenched as the de facto national language. Australian English is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon, and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling. General Australian serves as the standard dialect.
According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 72.7% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are:
A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.
Over 250 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which less than 20 are still in daily use by all age groups. About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people. At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 deaf people.
Australian nationality law determines who is and who is not an Australian citizen. The status of Australian nationality or Australian citizenship was created by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (in 1973 renamed the Australian Citizenship Act 1948) which came into force on 26 January 1949. The 1948 Act was amended many times, notably in 1973, 1984, 1986 and 2002. The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 replaced the 1948 Act, commencing on 1 July 2007. Australian citizenship law is administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection which can issue certificates of citizenship on naturalisation or on request provide other proof or evidence of Australian citizenship. Australian passports are issued to Australian citizens by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In Australia, the terms "nationality" and "citizenship" can be used interchangeably, but the term "citizenship" (or citizen) is more commonly used, while "nationality" is more commonly used on official documents and forms. A person may acquire citizenship automatically, "by operation of law", or by application after a period of residence in Australia. The process of acquiring citizenship by application is referred to as "naturalisation".
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. Where available, actual population figures from census years are included.
|Historic population (estimated)|
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