Demographics of Australia

Demographics of Australia
Demographics of Australia Flag of Australia.svg
Indicator Rank Measure
Population 50th 22,770,430
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 82.5
Human Development Index 2nd 0.937
Political freedom 1st (equal)* 1
Corruption (A higher score means less (perceived) corruption.) ↓ 8th 8.7
Press freedom 18th 5.38
Literacy Rate 21st 99%
Broadband uptake 17th 13.8%
Beer consumption 5th 4.49 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 22,770,430 as of 23 November 2011.[1] Australia is the 50th 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.

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.[2] 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 Papua New Guinea.[3]

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 1701, and Dutch navigators landed on the forbidding coast of modern Western Australia 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,[4] 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.[5] 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.[4]

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

Australia's age and gender structure in 2005, illustrated in a population pyramid.[6]

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


22,940,000 (23 November 2011)[7]

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)
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)[8]

States and territories

State/territory Land area (km²) Population (2006) Population density (/km²)  % of population in capital
 Australian Capital Territory 2,358 344,200 137.53 99.6%
 New South Wales 800,642 6,967,200 8.44 63%
 Victoria 227,416 5,297,600 23.87 71%
 Queensland 1,730,648 4,279,400 2.26 46%
 South Australia 983,482 1,601,800 1.56 73.5%
 Western Australia 2,529,875 2,163,200 0.79 73.4%
 Tasmania 68,401 498,200 7.08 41%
 Northern Territory 1,349,129 219,900 0.15 54%

Age structure

0–14 years: 19.3%
15–64 years: 67.5%
65 years and over: 13.2% (2008 estimate)[9]

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%.[10] This rate was based on estimates of:[11]

  • 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.[9] (ppt)[clarification needed]


Urbanisation population: 89% of total population (2008)
Rate of urbanisation: 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: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
Total population: 1 male(s)/female (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)[12]

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: less than 200 (2003 est.)[13]

Country of birth

Countries of birth of Australian estimated resident population, 2006.
Source:Australian Bureau of Statistics[14]

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

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics[14]
Country of Birth Estimated Resident Population
 United Kingdom 1,153,264
 New Zealand 476,719
 Italy 220,469
 People's Republic of China (Excluding SARs and Taiwan Province) 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 (SAR of China) 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
 Russia 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 Immigration to Australia.

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).[15] The total indigenous population is estimated to be about 520,000 individuals, including people of mixed descent.[4] 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 residents were 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:[15]

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.[5]


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, while 11.2% did not respond.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]


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, Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese languages, Indian languages, Arabic and Croatian, as well as numerous Australian Aboriginal languages.[19] 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 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 (Aramaic) 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.[20]

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

See also





  1. ^ "Population clock". Australian Bureau of Statistics website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 19 November 2011.  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. ^
  3. ^ "When did Australia’s earliest inhabitants arrive?". University of Wollongong. 17 September 2004. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population". 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "2914.0.55.002 – 2006 Census of Population and Housing: Media Releases and Fact Sheets, 2006".!OpenDocument. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Animated population pyramid. Retrieved 24 January 2007.
  7. ^ Australian Official Population Clock. The Australian Official Population Clock automatically updates daily at 00:00 UTC.
  8. ^ "3101.0 Australian Demographic Statistics (Dec 2007)" (PDF).$File/31010_dec%202007.pdf. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Population Size and Growth". 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2 December 2008.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  11. ^ "Population clock". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  12. ^ "3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2008". 10 November 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c "Migration" (PDF). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 29 March 2007. p. 48.$File/34120_2005-06.pdf. Retrieved 6 June 2011.  (table 6.6)
  15. ^ 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 30 December 2008. 
  16. ^ "2914.0.55.002 – 2006 Census of Population and Housing: Media Releases and Fact Sheets, 2006". 27 June 2007.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  17. ^ NCLS releases latest estimates of church attendance, National Church Life Survey, Media release, 28 February 2004
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Ethnologue report for Australia". Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  20. ^ "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population". 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2002. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 20 August 2007.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 21 October 2009. 
  21. ^ TABLE 2. Population by sex, states and territories, 30 June 1901 onwards. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  22. ^ TABLE 1.1. Population by sex, states and territories, 31 December 1788 onwards. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 5 August 2008.
General References

Further reading

  • 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)

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.