Demographics of Australia
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008)|
|Demographics of Australia|
|GDP (PPP) per capita||16th||$40,680|
|Unemployment rate||↓ 57th||4.30%|
|Human Development Index||2nd||0.937|
|Political freedom||1st (equal)*||1|
|Corruption (A higher score means less (perceived) corruption.)||↓ 8th||8.7|
|Beer consumption||20th||4.49 L†|
|Suicide Rate||50th||♂ 14.9†‡
|↓ indicates rank is in reverse order
(e.g. 1st is lowest)
† per capita
‡ per 1000 people
†† per woman
‡‡ per 1000 live births
†‡ 100,000 people per year
♂ indicates males, ♀ indicates females
The demographics of Australia covers basic statistics, most populous cities, ethnicity and religion. The population of Australia is estimated to be 23,452,730 as of 16 April 2014. Australia is the 52nd most populous country in the world. 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 about 350,000 at the time of British settlement in 1788 due to numerous waves of immigration during the period since. Also due to immigration, the European component of the population is declining as a percentage, as it is in many other Western countries.
Australia has scarcely more than two persons per square kilometre of total land area. With 89% of its population living in 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.
- 1 Indigenous population
- 2 Cities
- 3 Population density
- 4 General demographic statistics
- 4.1 Population
- 4.2 States and territories
- 4.3 Age structure
- 4.4 Median age
- 4.5 Population growth rate
- 4.6 Vital statistics since 1900
- 4.7 Urbanisation
- 4.8 Sex ratio
- 4.9 Life expectancy at birth
- 4.10 Total fertility rate
- 4.11 HIV/AIDS
- 4.12 Country of birth
- 4.13 Ancestry of Australian population
- 4.14 Religion
- 4.15 Languages
- 4.16 Literacy
- 4.17 Education expenditure
- 4.18 Nationality
- 5 Historical population estimates
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The earliest accepted timeline for the first arrivals of indigenous Australians to the continent of Australia places this human migration to at least 40,000 years ago most probably from the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea.
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 as many as 500 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, many tribal Aborigines lead a settled traditional life in remote areas of northern, central and western Australia. In the south, where most Aborigines are of mixed descent, most Aboriginal people live in the cities.
Australia contains five cities that consist of over one million people, which is significant for a small population.
Largest cities or towns of Australia
June 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates
|6||Gold Coast–Tweed Heads||QLD/NSW||590,889||16||Toowoomba||QLD||110,472|
Higher population densities can be seen throughout the major cities which are throughout Australia. 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.
General demographic statistics
The following figures are ABS estimates for the resident population of Australia, based on the 2001 and 2006 Censuses and other data.
- 23,452,730 (as of 16 April 2014)
- 21,262,641 (July 2009 – CIA World Factbook)
- 21,180,632 (end December 2007 – preliminary)
- 20,848,760 (end December 2006 – preliminary)
- 20,544,064 (end December 2005)
- 20,252,132 (end December 2004)
- 20,011,882 (end December 2003)
- 19,770,963 (end December 2002)
- 19,533,972 (end December 2001)
States and territories
| % of population
|Australian Capital Territory||2,358||357,222||151.49||99.6%|
|New South Wales||800,642||6,917,658||8.64||63%|
- 0–14 years – 18.2%
- 15–65 years – 67.5%
- 15-24 years – 13.5%
- 25-54 years – 42.2%
- 55–64 years – 11.8%
- 65 years and over – 14.4% (2012 estimate)
- Total: 37.3 years
- Male: 36.6 years
- Female: 38.1 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate
- one birth every 1 minute and 44 seconds,
- one death every 3 minutes and 32 seconds,
- a net gain of one international migrant every 2 minutes and 19 seconds leading to
- an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minute and 23 seconds.
In 2009, the estimated rates were:
- Birth rate – 12.47 births/1,000 population (Rank 164)
- Mortality rate – 6.68 deaths/1,000 population (Rank 146)
- Net migration rate – 6.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population. (Rank 15)
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 rate in the OECD, arguably as a result of some pro-fertility state and federal government campaigns, including the Federal Government's baby bonus.
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.
Vital statistics since 1900
|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|
- Urbanisation population: 89% of total population (2008)
- Rate of urbanisation: 1.2% annual rate of change (2005–2010)
- At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
- Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15–64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
- Total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009)
Life expectancy at birth
- Total: 80.63 years
- country comparison to the world: 70
- Male: 79.99 years
- Female: 84.15 years
Total fertility rate
- 1.969 children born/woman (2008)
For more detailed regionwise TFR details see Birth rate and fertility rate in Australia.
- country comparison to the world: 159
- Adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2007 est.)
- People living with HIV/AIDS: 18,000 (2007 est.)
- Deaths: fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Country of birth
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in mid-2006 there were 4,956,863 residents who were born outside Australia, representing 24% of the total population. The Australian-resident population consists of people who were born in these countries:
|Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics|
|Country of Birth||Estimated Resident Population|
|People's Republic of China (Excluding SARs and Taiwan Province)||203,143|
|Hong Kong (SAR of China)||76,303|
|Serbia and Montenegro||68,879|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||27,328|
|Papua New Guinea||26,302|
For more information about immigration see Immigration to Australia.
Ancestry of Australian population
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent. Indigenous Australians migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. 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. 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.
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, 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.
More than 92 percent of all Australians descend from Europeans. 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).
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 Australians are 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. 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. 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. 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 – "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, 80 percent of those were British. In 1939 and 1945, still 98 percent of Australians had British/Anglo-Celtic ancestral origins. Until 1947, the vast majority of the population were of British origin. 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. In 1971, 70 percent of the foreign born were of European origin. In 1984, 29 percent of the foreign born were from Europe.
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. 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 aboard. In 2001 were 51 percent from Europe, 29 percent from Asia, 11 percent from Oceania, and 4 percent came from the Americas.
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. 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. 28 percent of the Australian population reported mixed or multiple ancestries in the 2006 census.
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:
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.
Australia is a religiously diverse country and has no official religion.
Christianity is the predominant faith of Australia. According to the 2006 census, the largest religious denomination is Roman Catholicism, of which 25.8% of the population claimed affiliation. The next largest is the Anglican faith, at 18.7%. Members of other Christian denominations accounted for 19.4% of the population.
Minority religions practiced in Australia include Buddhism (2.1% of the population), Islam (1.7%), Hinduism (0.7%) and Judaism (0.4%). Two percent of the population stated a different religion, which includes Sikhism and Indigenous beliefs, and 18.7% claimed no religion (this number increased in 2011 to 22.3%), while 11.2% did not respond.
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 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. 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). The Anglican Church educates around 105,000 students and the Uniting Church has around 48 schools.[dead link][dead link]
English is the national language of Australia and is spoken by the vast majority of the population.
The most commonly spoken languages other than English are Italian, Greek, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese languages, Indian languages, Arabic and Macedonian, as well as numerous Australian Aboriginal languages. Australia's hearing-impaired community uses Australian Deaf Sign Language. As of February 2012, more than 15 per cent of Australians speak non-English languages at home and more than 200 languages are practised.
|Australian Aboriginal Languages||55,705|
- Definition: aged 15 years and over can read and write
- Total population: 99%
- Male: 99%
- Female: 99% (2003 est.)
- 4.5% of GDP (2005)
- country comparison to the world: 55
- noun: Australian(s)
- adjective: Australian
Historical population estimates
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.
|Historic population (Estimated) |
|pre 1788||750,000 to 1,000,000 |
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- Jupp, James. The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, its People and their Origins (2002)
- O'Farrell, Patrick. The Irish in Australia: 1798 to the Present Day (3rd ed. Cork University Press, 2001)
- Wells, Andrew, and Theresa Martinez, eds. Australia's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook (ABC-CLIO, 2004)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Demographics of Australia.|
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Year Book Australia, 2009–10
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