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Aboriginal Australians

First people to migrate to the Australian continent / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Australian mainland and many of its islands, but excluding the ethnically distinct people of the Torres Strait Islands. The term "Indigenous Australians" is applied to Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders collectively.

Quick facts: Total population, Regions with significant po...
Aboriginal Australians
The Australian Aboriginal Flag. Together with the Torres Strait Islander Flag, it was proclaimed a flag of Australia in 1995.
Total population
984,000 (2021)[1]
3.8% of Australia's population
Regions with significant populations
Flag_of_the_Northern_Territory.svg Northern Territory30.3%
Flag_of_Tasmania.svg Tasmania5.5%
Flag_of_Queensland.svg Queensland4.6%
Flag_of_Western_Australia.svg Western Australia3.9%
Flag_of_New_South_Wales.svg New South Wales3.4%
Flag_of_South_Australia.svg South Australia2.5%
Flag_of_the_Australian_Capital_Territory.svg Australian Capital Territory1.9%
Flag_of_Victoria_%28Australia%29.svg Victoria0.9%
Several hundred Australian Aboriginal languages, many no longer spoken, Australian English, Australian Aboriginal English, Kriol
Majority Christian (mainly Anglican and Catholic),[2] minority no religious affiliation,[2] and small numbers of other religions, various local indigenous religions grounded in Australian Aboriginal mythology
Related ethnic groups
Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal Tasmanians, Papuans
An Eastern Arrernte man of the Arltunga district, Northern Territory, in 1923. His hut is decked with porcupine grass.
Dwellings accommodating Aboriginal families at Hermannsburg Mission, Northern Territory, 1923

People first migrated to Australia at least 65,000 years ago and formed as many as 500 language-based groups.[3] They have a broadly shared, complex genetic history, but only in the last 200 years were they defined as, and started to self-identify as, a single group. Aboriginal identity has changed over time and place, with family lineage, self-identification and community acceptance all of varying importance.

Aboriginal Australians have a wide variety of cultural practices and beliefs that make up the oldest continuous cultures in the world.[4][5] At the time of European colonisation of Australia, they consisted of complex cultural societies with more than 250 languages[6] and varying degrees of technology and settlements.[vague] Languages (or dialects) and language-associated groups of people are connected with stretches of territory known as "Country", with which they have a profound spiritual connection. Over the aeons, Aboriginal people developed complex trade networks, inter-cultural relationships, law and religions.[3][7]

Contemporary Aboriginal beliefs are a complex mixture, varying by region and individual across the continent.[8] They are shaped by traditional beliefs, the disruption of colonisation, religions brought to the continent by Europeans, and contemporary issues.[8][9][10] Traditional cultural beliefs are passed down and shared by dancing, stories, songlines and art that collectively weave an ontology of modern daily life and ancient creation known as Dreaming.

In the past, Aboriginal people 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. Despite this, Aboriginal people maintained extensive networks within the continent and certain groups maintained relationships with Torres Strait Islanders and the Makassar people of modern-day Indonesia. Studies of Aboriginal groups' genetic makeup are ongoing, but evidence suggests that they have genetic inheritance from ancient Asian but not more modern peoples, and share some similarities with Papuans, but have been isolated from Southeast Asia for a very long time.

In the 2021 census, Indigenous Australians comprised 3.8% of Australia's population.[1]

Most Aboriginal people today speak English and live in cities, and some may use Aboriginal phrases and words in Australian Aboriginal English (which also has a tangible influence of Aboriginal languages in the phonology and grammatical structure). Many but not all also speak traditional languages.

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