Australia’s cultural influences are as vast and varied as the continent itself. The earliest “immigrants” came from Asia to Australia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago, followed some time later by James Cook, who is credited with Australia’s European discovery in 1770.
Australia is recognised as one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world.
In present day Australia, one in four residents were born outside of Australia, and many more are first or second generation Australians. This wide variety of backgrounds, together with the culture of Indigenous Australians who have lived on the continent for more than 50,000 years, have helped to create a uniquely Australian identity and spirit.
Diverse influences in Australian English
Australia’s diversity is evident in the colloquial language which combines many long lost cockney (London Street) and Irish sayings of the early European settlers with words from Aboriginal languages. Words are often abbreviated and end with an ‘o’ or ‘ie’, with flattened vowels and the prominent use of upward inflections at the end sentences.
Many languages, many cultures
While English is the official language of Australia, there are over 260 languages spoken, about 50 of which are Australian Indigenous languages.
With so much diversity, what binds the Australian people?
The central value that binds Australian society is the spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play, and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good.
In fact, this is so important that when applying for a Visa one must sign an Australian Values Statement.
As a nation, Australia embraces diverse religious beliefs and promoting racial and religious tolerance is part of the law of the land. Although 42.4% of the Australian population identifies as Christian, you’ll find that religious tolerance is widely upheld.
A mix of food flavours
More than 40 % of Australians identify as being of mixed cultural origin, and this is seen in the wonderful blend of foods where European flavours are just as commonplace as the exotic and fragrant tastes of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. With 11 million square kilometres of coastline, it makes sense that seafood is predominant in many recipes.
With an art tradition ranging from the prehistoric to Australia’s vibrant contemporary art scene reflects both the nation’s Indigenous cultural traditions and its mix of cultures.
While Melbourne and Sydney often compete for the title of Australia’s arts capital, art is a vital part of Australian society as a whole.
With 22 million people and the lowest population density in the world, Australia is a multicultural and multiracial melting pot that is reflected in the country’s food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience.