Australian Aboriginals - the Native Population

Australian Aboriginals have populated the continent for a long time, probably for 40,000 up to 60,000 years.

A skeleton of a male, believed to be 60,000 years old was found together with traces of ceremonial paint. This proves that the native tribes had some forms of cultural organisation in those early days.

The native population of Australia consists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

They are ethnically and culturally different:

  • Aboriginal Australians inhabited the mainland and Tasmania.
  • Torres Strait Islanders come from the islands between Queensland and Papua New Guinea. Their culture is much closer to the other South Pacific islanders' culture.

Indigenous Australians developed a strong social organisation with taboos and religious ceremonies.

They were good hunters and used spears and boomerangs to hunt for their food. They were also involved in the exchange of goods with other traders in the region, for quite a long time.

Australian Aboriginals After White Settlement

At the time of the British settlement, more than 300,000 Aborigines inhabited most areas of the continent. They were speaking 250 languages and many more dialects.

They did not seem to have any political structure, so the Europeans took their land.

These populations declined as they were forced out of their homes. Families were broken up and children were removed from their parents. Governments intended to assimilate the indigenous populations and took away their rights.

The situation improved in the 1960s and 1970s when they were recognised as citizens and given back limited rights to their land.

Today around half a million people identify themselves as of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. More than half live in New South Wales and Queensland, in or close to major cities. Aboriginal Australians also live in rural and remote areas.

For those who want to know more about Indigenous Australians, make sure to check the interesting stuff on these pages:

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