Aboriginal Australians

Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Australian mainland and many of its islands, such as Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt, but excluding the Torres Strait Islands. The term Indigenous Australians refers to Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders collectively. It is generally used when both groups are included in the topic being addressed. Torres Strait Islanders are ethnically and culturally distinct, despite extensive cultural exchange with some of the Aboriginal groups. The Torres Strait Islands are mostly part of Queensland but have a separate governmental status.

Aboriginal Australians
Total population
759,705 (2016)[1]
3.1% of Australia's population
Regions with significant populations
Northern Territory30.3%
Tasmania5.5%
Queensland4.6%
Western Australia3.9%
New South Wales3.4%
South Australia2.5%
Australian Capital Territory1.9%
Victoria0.9%
Languages
Several hundred Australian Aboriginal languages, many no longer spoken, Australian English, Australian Aboriginal English, Kriol
Religion
Majority Christian (mainly Anglican and Catholic),[2] minority no religious affiliation,[2] small numbers of other religions, various local indigenous religions grounded in Australian Aboriginal mythology
Related ethnic groups
Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal Tasmanians, Papuans
Aboriginal dwellings in Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, 1923. Image: Herbert Basedow

Aboriginal Australians comprise many distinct peoples who have developed across Australia for over 50,000 years. These peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self-identify as a single group. The definition of the term "Aboriginal" has changed over time and place, with family lineage, self-identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance.

In the past, Aboriginal Australians lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands and Tasmania when the land was inundated at the start of the Holocene inter-glacial period, about 11,700 years ago. Studies regarding the genetic make-up of Aboriginal groups are still ongoing, but evidence has suggested that they have genetic inheritance from ancient Asian but not more modern peoples, share some similarities with Papuans, but have been isolated from Southeast Asia for a very long time. Before extensive European settlement, there were over 250 Aboriginal languages.[3][4]

In the 2016 Australian Census, Indigenous Australians comprised 3.3% of Australia's population, with 91% of these identifying as Aboriginal only, 5% Torres Strait Islander, and 4% both. They also live throughout the world as part of the Australian diaspora.

Most Aboriginal people speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English (which also has a tangible influence of Aboriginal languages in the phonology and grammatical structure).

Aboriginal people, along with Torres Strait Islander people, have a number of health and economic deprivations in comparison with the wider Australian community.