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Racial Demographics of Australia

Overview | Diversity of birthplace | Diversity of language | Diversity of religion and spiritual beliefs


This section has been updated by the University of Western Sydney.

Australia has a unique history that has shaped the diversity of its peoples, their cultures and lifestyles today. Three major contributors to Australia's demographic make-up are a diverse Indigenous population, a British colonial past and extensive immigration from many different countries and cultures. Today, Australia's population of about 23 million is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world.

Although the majority of the population are Australian born, more than 75% of Australians identified with an ancestry other than Australian in the 2011 Census. About 2% of Australians come from Indigenous backgrounds and about 43% have at least one parent who has born overseas. 30% of the population were born in another country. Of the overseas born, the major countries of birth are England, New Zealand and China. About 8.5% of Australians were born in non-English speaking countries [1]. In all, Australians come from over 200 birthplaces.

Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages. Languages other than English are spoken by about 16% of the population with about 61, 000 people speaking an Indigenous language. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Chinese, Italian, Greek and Arabic. There are over 50 Indigenous languages and Australian creoles actively spoken [2] by Australians.

The major religion in Australia is Christianity with about 61% of the population identifying as Christian. This group comprises over 70 different Christian denominations with the major denominations being Catholic; Anglican; Uniting Church; Presbyterian and Reformed; and Eastern Orthodox. Other major religions represented in Australia today include Buddhism (2.4% of the population), Islam (2.1%), Hinduism (1.28%) and Judaism (0.45%). About 7, 361 Australians practise Aboriginal traditional religions. About 22% of Australians have no religion.

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