Overview – Australian Culture & Brief History
Australian is multicultural and multiracial and this is reflected in the country’s food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience. Australia has an important heritage from its indigenous people, which plays a defining role in the cultural landscape. This diversity of influences creates a cultural environment in Australia.
As of December 2014, Australia’s population is roughly 23.6 million people. The most populous states are New South Wales and Victoria, with their respective capitals, Sydney and Melbourne, the largest cities in Australia. Australia’s population is concentrated along the coastal region of Australia from Adelaide to Cairns, with a small concentration around Perth, Western Australia. The centre of Australia is sparsely populated.
Australia’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, are believed to have migrated from some unknown point in Asia to Australia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.
While Captain James Cook is credited with Australia’s European discovery in 1770, a Portuguese possibly first sighted the country, while the Dutch are known to have explored the coastal regions in the 1640s.
The first European settlement of Australia was in January 1788, when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. Originally established as a penal colony, by the 1830s the number of free settlers was increasing. Transportation of convicts to the eastern colonies was abolished in 1852 and to the western colonies in 1868.
Europeans came to Australia about 200 years ago. Aboriginals had already been living here for over 40,000 years.
- The first European colonisers included convicts and the working class poor. They also included the (often penniless) European ‘gentry’.
- ‘The great Australian dream’ involved having a home of one’s own and some land. This dream helped attract Europeans to Australia. Land was cheap and even convicts could work to obtain their freedom and eventually get land.
- Many waves of migration have happened over the last two hundred years and as a result Australia is a very multicultural country. Today Australia includes people from over 130 countries. A significant minority are first or second generation migrants. The majority are of mixed ethnic origin.
Source of information: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country