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Demographics of Australia Flag of Australia.svg
Indicator Rank Measure
Population 51st 22,190,078
GDP (PPP) per capita 16th $32,938
GNP 18th $35,900
Unemployment rate ↓ 57th 4.30%
CO2 emissions 12th 18t
Electricity consumption 16th 200.70TWh
Economic freedom 3rd 82.0
Human Development Index 2nd 0.970
Political freedom 1st (equal)* 1
Corruption (A higher score means less (perceived) corruption.) ↓ 7th 8.7
Press freedom 16th 3.13
Literacy Rate 21st 99%
Broadband uptake 17th 13.8%
Beer consumption 4th 109.9 L
Life Expectancy 5th 81.2
Birth rate 148th 13.8
Fertility rate 137th 1.969††
Infant mortality 202nd 4.57‡‡
Death rate 122nd 7.56
Suicide Rate 33rd ♂ 20.1†‡
♀ 5.3†‡
HIV/AIDS rate 108th 0.10%
↓ 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

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Australia, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religions, and other aspects of the population.

The demographics of Australia covers basic statistics, most populous cities, ethnicity and religion. The population of Australia is estimated to be 22,190,078 as of 17 March 2010.[1] Australia is the 51st most populous country in the world. Its population is concentrated mainly in urban areas.

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.

Although Australia has scarcely more than two persons per square kilometre of total land area, this raw figure is highly misleading: most of the continent is desert or semi-desert and of limited agricultural value. Consequently, Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries with an urban population of 89%.

The life expectancy of Australia in 1999-2001 was 79.7 years, among the highest in the world.


Indigenous population

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 PNG.[2]

These first inhabitants of Australia were originally hunter-gatherer peoples, 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 one person per square mile along the coasts to one person per 35 square miles (91 km2) 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.

Australia may have been sighted by Portuguese sailors in 1601, and Dutch navigators landed on the forbidding coast of modern Western Australia several times during the 17th century. Captain James Cook claimed it for Great Britain in 1770. At that time, the indigenous population was estimated to have been between 315,000 and 750,000,[3] divided into as many as 500 tribes[citation needed] speaking many different languages. In the 2006 Census, 407,700 respondents declared they were Aboriginal, 29,512 declared they were Torres Strait Islander, and a further 17,811 declared they were both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. [1]. 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[3].

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 live in the cities.

General Demographic statistics

Much of the data that follows has been derived from the CIA World Factbook and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, through censuses.


22,190,000 (17 March 2010)[5]

The following figures are ABS estimates for the resident population of Australia, based on the 2001 and 2006 Censuses and other data.

21,262,641 (July 2009 - CIA World Factbook)
country comparison to the world: 55
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) [2]

States and territories

State/territory Land area (km²) Rank Population (2006) Rank Population density (/km²) Rank  % of population in capital Rank
 Australian Capital Territory 2,358 8th 344,200 7th 137.53 1st 99.6% 1st
 New South Wales 800,642 5th 6,967,200 1st 8.44 3rd 63% 5th
 Victoria 227,416 6th 5,297,600 2nd 22 2nd 71% 4th
 Queensland 1,730,648 2nd 4,279,400 3rd 2.26 5th 46% 7th
 South Australia 983,482 4th 1,601,800 5th 1.56 6th 73.5% 2nd
 Western Australia 2,529,875 1st 2,163,200 4th 0.79 7th 73.4% 3rd
 Tasmania 68,401 7th 498,200 6th 7.08 4th 41% 8th
 Northern Territory 1,349,129 3rd 219,900 8th 0.15 8th 54% 6th

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.6%
15-64 years: 67.9%
65 years and over: 13.5% (2009 estimate)[6]

Median age

Total: 37.3 years
Male: 36.6 years
Female: 38.1 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate

The trend of population growth in Australia (thousands of persons). The rate of population growth changed significantly following the Australian gold rushes, the Great depression and World War II.

As of the end of June 2009 the population growth rate was 2.1%.[7] This rate was based on estimates of:[8]

  • one birth every 1 minute and 45 seconds,
  • one death every 3 minutes and 40 seconds,
  • a net gain of one international migrant every 1 minutes and 51 seconds leading to
  • an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minutes and 11 seconds.

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 beginning of the Post-World War II baby boom and the immigration of many young people who then had children in Australia, with a plateau of rates of over 13.0 persons per 1,000 population 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.[6]

International comparison

For the year ended 30 June 2008, Australia's population growth rate was 1.7 percent per year, almost 50 percent higher than the world average of 1.2 percent per year.[9]

0.1% Japan
0.3% Greece and Sweden
0.6% China, Thailand and France
0.8% Canada
0.9% United States
1.0% New Zealand
1.2% World Average
1.6% India
1.7% Australia
2.2% Papua New Guinea


Urbanization population: 89% of total population (2008)
Rate of urbanization: 1.2% annual rate of change (2005-2010)

Sex ratio

At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.12 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
Total population: 1 male(s)/ 12 female(s) (2009)

Infant mortality rate

Total: 4.75 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 196
Male: 5.08 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 4.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

Total: 81.63 years
country comparison to the world: 70
Male: 79.25 years
Female: 84.15 years

Total fertility rate

1.969 children born/woman (2008)[10]

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.)-majority in NSW.
Deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.) [3]

Country of birth

Countries of birth of Australian estimated resident population, 2006.
Source:Australian Bureau of Statistics[11]

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.[11] The Australian-resident population comprises people born in these countries:

Country of Birth Estimated Resident Population[11]
 United Kingdom 1,153,264
 New Zealand 476,719
 Italy 220,469
 People's Republic of China (Excluding SARs) 203,143
 Vietnam 180,352
 India 153,579
 Philippines 135,619
 Greece 125,849
 South Africa 118,816
 Germany 114,921
 Malaysia 103,947
 Netherlands 86,950
 Lebanon 86,599
 Hong Kong 76,303
 Sri Lanka 70,908
 Serbia and  Montenegro 68,879
 Indonesia 67,952
 United States 64,832
 Poland 59,221
 Fiji 58,815
 Ireland 57,338
 Croatia 56,540
 Singapore 49,819
 South Korea 49,141
 Malta 48,978
 Macedonia 48,577
 Iraq 40,400
 Egypt 38,782
 Turkey 37,556
 Canada 33,198
 Thailand 32,747
 Taiwan 31,258
 Japan 29,469
 Sudan 29,282
 Cambodia 28,175
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 27,328
 Papua New Guinea 26,302
 Chile 26,204
 Iran 25,659
 Hungary 23,065
 Russian Federation 21,436
 Cyprus 21,149
 Zimbabwe 21,142
 Afghanistan 21,140
 Austria 20,214
 France 20,054
 Pakistan 19,768
 Mauritius 19,375
 Samoa 17,822
 Portugal 17,382

For more information about immigration see Australian Immigration.

Ancestry of Australian population

For generations, the vast majority of both colonial-era settlers and post-Federation immigrants came from the United Kingdom and Ireland, although the gold rushes also drew migrants from other countries. 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 and the Middle East. About 90% of Australia's population is of European descent. Over 8% of the population is of Asian descent (predominantly Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indian)[12]. The total indigenous population is estimated to be about 520,000 individuals, including people of mixed descent.[3]. The population of Queensland also includes descendants of South Sea Islanders brought over for indentured servitude in the 19th century.

In the 2006 Australian Census participants were asked "what is the person's ancestry?" and were able to give up to two answers. Proportionate to the Australian resident population, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:[12]

Although only 0.58% of respondents indicated Aboriginal ancestry in response to the 'ancestry' question, an earlier question on the same 2006 Census form specifically asked about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origins. 2.3% of respondents indicated Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origins, most of these Aboriginal [4]. 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.[3]


Although Australia has many religions, the country has no official religion.

Christianity is the predominant faith of Australia. According to the 2006 census, the largest religious denomination is the Roman Catholic; 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%), 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, while 11.2% did not respond.[13]

The category of "no religion" includes non-theistic beliefs such as humanism, atheism, agnosticism and rationalism. A fifth sub-category is "No Religion - nfd" ("nfd" = no further definition). The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not provide statistics on how many people belong in each sub-category on "No Religion".

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.[14]


English is the de facto national language of Australia and is spoken by the vast majority of the population.

The most commonly spoken languages other than English in Australia are Italian, Greek, German, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese languages, Indian languages, Arabic, Macedonian and Croatian, as well as numerous Australian Aboriginal languages[15]. Australia's hearing-impaired community uses Australian Deaf Sign Language.

Language Speakers
Only English 15,581,333
Italian 316,895
Greek 252,226
Cantonese 244,553
Arabic 243,662
Mandarin 220,600
Vietnamese 194,863
Spanish 98,001
Filipino + Tagalog 92,331
German 75,634
Hindi 70,011
Macedonian 67,835
Croatian 63,612
Australian Aboriginal Languages 55,705
Korean 54,623
Turkish 53,857
Polish 53,389
Serbian 52,534
French 43,216
Indonesian 42,036
Maltese 36,514
Russian 36,502
Dutch 36,183
Japanese 35,111
Tamil 32,700
Sinhalese 29,055
Samoan 28,525
Portuguese 25,779
Khmer 24,715
Assyrian 23,526
Punjabi 23,164
Persian 22,841
Hungarian 21,565
Bengali 20,223
Urdu 19,288
Afrikaans 16,806
Bosnian 15,743


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99%
Male: 99%
Female: 99% (2003 est.)

Education expenditure

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.[16]

Year Population Five Year
 % change
1788 8590 -0
1798 4,5880 -0
1808 10,2630 -0
1818 25,8590 -0
1828 58,1970 -0
1838 151,8680 -0
1848 332,3280 -0
1858 1,050,8280 -0
1868 1,539,5520 -0
1878 2,092,1640 -0
1888 2,981,6770 -0
1898 3,664,7150 -0
1901 3,788,1230 -0
1906 4,059,0830 7.20
1911 4,489,5450 10.60
1916 4,943,1730 10.10
1921 5,455,1360 10.40
1926 6,056,3600 11.00
1931 6,526,4850 7.80
1936 6,778,3720 3.40
1941 7,109,8980 4.90
1946 7,465,1570 5.00
1951 8,421,7750 12.80
1956 9,425,5630 11.90
1961 10,548,2670 11.90
1966 11,599,4980 10.00
1971 13,067,2650 12.70
1976 14,033,0830 7.40
1981 14,923,2600 6.30
1986 16,018,3500 7.30
1991 17,284,0360 12.80
1996 18,310,7140 5.90
2001 19,413,2400 6.00
2006 20,848,7600 7.40

See also





  1. ^ "Population clock". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 3 January 2010.  The population estimate shown is automatically calculated daily at 00:00 UTC and is based on data obtained from the population clock on the date shown in the citation.
  2. ^ "When did Australia’s earliest inhabitants arrive?". University of Wollongong. 17 September 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population". 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  4. ^ Animated population pyramid. Last accessed 2007-01-24.
  5. ^ Australian Official Population Clock. The Australian Official Population Clock automatically updates daily at 00:00 UTC.
  6. ^ a b "Population Size and Growth". 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  7. ^ "3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2 December 2008.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  8. ^ "Population clock". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  9. ^ ABS International Comparison of Population for Selected Countries
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c "Migration" (PDF). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 29 March 2007.$File/34120_2005-06.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-06.  (table 6.6)
  12. ^ a b "20680-Ancestry by Country of Birth of Parents - Time Series Statistics (2001, 2006 Census Years) - Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 June 2007.,%202006%20Census%20Years)&producttype=Census%20Tables&method=Place%20of%20Usual%20Residence&topic=Ancestry&. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  13. ^!OpenDocument
  14. ^ NCLS releases latest estimates of church attendance, National Church Life Survey, Media release, 28 February 2004
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population". 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007-08-20.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  17. ^ TABLE 2. Population by sex, states and territories, 30 June 1901 onwards. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 23/05/2006. Last accessed March 8, 2008.
  18. ^ TABLE 1.1. Population by sex, states and territories, 31 December 1788 onwards. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 05/08/2008.
General References

External links

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