Before WWII, Australia had what was called a White Australia Policy, which helped to ensure Australia remained a country that was dominated by whites. This policy prevented people from Asia, Africa, and Pacific Islands from migrating there and a dictation test for migrants was implimented that allowed any European language, but excluded all other world languages. This policy lasted till 1973 and in 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate potential migrants because of race. Today the racial makeup of Australia is still mainly white or European at around 90% followed by Asian at 8%, and Australian Aboriginals at less than 1%.
More than 20 per cent of Australians living today are foreign born. Leading countries supplying immigrants in order of immigrant population size was and still is the United Kingdom which accounts for more than all other countries combined. This is followed by New Zealand immigrants who are also a significant group. Next is China, Italy, Vietnam, India, Philippines, Greece, Macedonia, and South Africa.
Australia is the world's second least densely populated country with only 2.8 people per square km or 1.7 people per square mile. This statistic is misleading however, because rather than a land with few people spread across the continent, Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with around 90% living in cities. In addition to that, about 80 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast, meaning the coast is densly popualted, but also leaving the huge outback being almost empty.
Both the beach and the outback have contributed greatly to psyche of Australians. The image of the tough hardened Aussie cowboy is not a myth, but that person is greatly disproportionate to the average Australian who lives in cities and near the coast. Instead it is the beach that has contributed an integral part of Australia's famous laid-back attitude and lifestyle and it is the beach that has helped Australians become a leading nation in water sports like surfing and swimming. Other sports Australians play include rugby, aussie rules, cricket, and netball. Australians in general a great lovers of sport and this is telling in their many big stadiums that are built around the country.
Australia has no official religion. About 65% of Australians consider themsleves Christian followed by around 20% who have a belief in no God which includes atheism and agnosticism.
English is the only language spoken in the home for around 80% of the population. Australians however have a unique colloquial version of English coined 'strine' by linguist Alastair Morrison in 1966. This combines long lost sayings from England and Ireland that were spoken by convicts from these places mixed with Aboriginal words. Words are also abbreviated with an 'o' or 'ie' on the end. So you might hear an Australian say something like, 'come to the barbie this arvo', which is an invitation to a barbeque in the afternnon. The next most common languages are Chinese (2.1%), Italian (1.9%), and Greek (1.4%).
Famous and well known Australians include: Dame Joan Sutherland, Olivia Newton-John, Elle Macpherson, Sir Donald Bradman, Evonne Goolagong, Ian Thorpe, Barry Humphries, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Paul Hogan, Michael Hutchence, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Packer, Rupert Murdoch. Early famous Australian explorers included Matthew Flinders, Robert Burke, William Wills, Charles Sturt, and John Stuart. The most infamous Australian was Ned Kelly.