Australia: People                                                                

  • Most Australians are of British and Irish ancestry and the majority of the country lives in urban areas.

 
  • Australia’s population has more than doubled since the end of World War II, spurred by an ambitious postwar immigration program.

 
  • In the 19th century, Australia enacted strong measures to prevent immigration by nonwhites.

 
  • After World War II, immigration from Greece, Turkey, Italy, and other countries increased Australia's cultural diversity.

 
  • In 1973, Australia officially ended discriminatory immigration policies, and substantial Asian immigration followed.

 
  • By 1988, about 40% of immigration to Australia was from Asia, and, by 2001, Asians constituted 5.5% of the population. Nonetheless, there remains substantial anxiety among white Australians concerning Asian immigration.

 
  • The indigenous population, the Australian aborigines, estimated to number as many as 350,000 at the time of the Europeans' arrival, numbered at 366,429 in 2001.

 
  • Although still more rural than the general population, the Aboriginal population has become more urbanized, with some two thirds living in cities. New South Wales and Queensland account for just over half of the Australian Aboriginal population.

 
  • In Tasmania the Aboriginal population was virtually wiped out in the 19th century.

 
  • There is no state religion in Australia. The largest churches are the Anglican and Roman Catholic.

 
  • Although education is not a federal concern, government grants have aided in the establishment of state universities including the University of Sydney (1852) (photo), the University of Melbourne (1854), the University of Adelaide (1874), and the University of Queensland (in Brisbane, 1909).