Maui Population 2021

The latest US Census Bureau estimate for the population of Maui County, Hawaii, is 165,386.

Maui, known as the Valley Isle, is second largest island in Hawaii by area but only its third largest by population, after Oahu (population 953,207) and Hawaii island itself (population: 185,079).

The city of Wailuku (population 15,313) is the Maui county seat, and Kahului (population 26,337) is the largest city in Maui.

Maui County population by island

The latest (2016) census bureau data is for the entire Maui County which includes the islands of Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi. The most recent data that breaks down how many people live in Maui County by island is only available from the 2010 census. At that time, the population of each island was:

IslandPopulation (2010)

Largest cities in Maui

The largest cities and towns in Maui are (all data from 2010 census):

CityPopulation (2010)

Maui population growth

Maui’s population is growing more quickly than the population of Hawaii and the rest of the United States. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of people living in Maui increased by 6.8%, compared to an increase of 5.0% across Hawaii, and 4.7% across the United States as a whole.

Maui’s population suffered a decline during the 1940s and 1950s, in part because of the impact of the Second World War. Once growth resumed in the 1970s, though, it was explosive. Between 1970 and 1990, the number of Maui residents more than doubled – from just under 46,000 people in 1970 to just over 100,000 people in 1990. Growth since then has slowed to a more manageable rate, although it is still very healthy.

The table below lists the population of Maui County at the point of each census since 1900:

Census YearPopulation % Change

Maui area and population density

Maui is the second most densely populated island in Hawaii, after Oahu.

Maui (the island) covers an area of 727.2 square miles (1,883.4 square kilometers). Based on the 2010 population, this means that the population density in Maui is 198.63 people per square mile, or 76.69 people per square kilometer.

Maui race and ethnicity

The largest singe group in Maui County is White (not Hispanic or Latino) (35.8%). This is followed closely by Asian (28.7%), two or more races (23.3%), Hispanic or Latino (11.2%) and then by Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (10.7%).

Other, smaller, groups are: Black or African American (1.0%) and American Indian and Alaska Native (0.6%).

The table below lists this data, and compares it to data across Hawaii and the rest of the USA.

StatisticMauiHawaiiUnited States
White alone (not Hispanic or Latino)31.1%22.9%61.6%
Asian28.7% 37.3% 5.6%
Two or more races23.3% 23.0% 2.6%
Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander10.7%9.9% 0.2%
Hispanic or Latino9.4%10.4%17.6%
Black or African American alone1.0%2.6%13.3%
American Indian / Alaska native0.6%0.5%1.2%

All data is from 2015.

Maui demographics – age and households

The age breakdown in Maui is broadly similar to the rest of Hawaii, and the rest of the USA.

In total, 22.3% of people in Maui are aged under 18, and 33% of households have children under the age of 18. The average family size in Maui county is 3.41 people.

Education in Maui

The vast majority of people in Maui have graduated high school – latest data shows that 91.5% of people aged over 25 have a high school diploma, compared to 86.7% of people across America.

People in Maui are less likely to have attended university and gained a bachelor’s degree, however. Just over a quarter (26.1%) of people had a degree, compared with a national average of 29.8%.

Maui tourist population

Maui is a popular vacation destination. In 2016, Maui welcomed 2.6 million visitors, an increase of 3.9% on 2015. That’s more than a quarter of the 8.9 million people who visited all of the Hawaiian Islands during the year. In total, visitors to Maui spent $7.3 billion, providing a major boost to the local economy.

Further reading and sources

Data in this article comes from the US Census Bureau or, unless otherwise stated.

New Zealand Population 2021

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The population of New Zealand in 2021 is 5,149,645.

This estimate was taken from New Zealand’s constantly updated population clock in October 2021 (see below for more information) and is based on the 2018 census, which reported a population of 4,699,755.

New Zealand is the 123rd largest country in the world by population and the third largest in Oceania (after Australia and Papua New Guinea).

New Zealand’s North Island has a population of 3,519,800 people, and its South Island has a population of 1,076,300. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of 1,454,300 people.

How many people live in New Zealand today

The latest official estimate is that the population of New Zealand was 4,693,000 in June 2016.

Statistics New Zealand, the government statistical office who produced this estimate, also publishes a New Zealand population clock which shows up to the minute predictions of how many people live in New Zealand.

New Zealand Population Chart

New Zealand’s population is growing at a rate of 0.8% per annum. Or, put another way, this means that there is one birth in New Zealand every nine minutes and one death every fifteen minutes. In addition net migration (immigration minus migration) produces a new resident every six and a half minutes.

For a developed nation, New Zealand has a relatively high population growth rate. This is partly because of high levels of immigration (estimated at 60,000 per year) and partly because it has a higher birth rate than most developed countries.

Although growth is expected to slow slightly in coming years, New Zealand’s population is likely to reach 5 million by 2026.

Largest cities in New Zealand

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. The capital city is home to 1,454,300 people (June 2015 estimate). It is the only city in New Zealand with a population of more than one million people. Auckland’s people are younger and more ethnically diverse than the national average.

Other cities in New Zealand with a population of more than 200,000 people are Wellington (398,300), Christchurch (381,800) and Hamilton (224,000).

Auckland is the largest city on New Zealand’s North Island and Christchurch is the largest city on South Island.

CityPopulation (2015)Region
Tauranga130,800Bay of Plenty
Napier-Hastings129,700Hawke’s Bay
Palmerston North83,500Manawatu-Wanganui
Rotorua56,800Bay of Plenty

New Zealand census

New Zealand holds a census every five years.

The most recent census was scheduled to take place in 2011, but it was postponed because of the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. Instead, the most recent New Zealand census was held in 2013. The next census will take place in 2018.

Much of the information in this article is derived from the 2013 census results.

Ethnic groups and immigration

There are four major ethnic groups in New Zealand – Maori, Europeans, Pacific Islanders, and Asian.

Pacific Islander7.4%
Middle Eastern / Latin American / African1.2%

Source. Note: totals add up to more than 100% because people were able to select more than one ethnicity in the 2013 census.

The Maori were the first group to arrive in New Zealand. No one is sure of the exact date of their arrival but recent scientific evidence, including radiocarbon dating, indicates that they arrived from East Polynesia somewhere between 1250 and 1300 AD.

Europeans first ’discovered’ New Zealand in the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that the first permanent settlers arrived. While European settlers prospered, a combination of disease and war between Europeans and Maori led to a dramatic decline in the Maori population – from around 86,000 at the time of the first European settlement to just 42,000 in 1896. Life expectancy at birth fell from over 30 years before European arrival to an estimated 25 years for Maori men and 23 for women.

In the years that followed, immigration from Europe (mainly Great Britain) and Australia saw the overall population of New Zealand increase to almost 1 million people at the end of the 19th century. Restrictions on immigration were imposed – first in the 19th century to restrict the number of immigrants arriving from China and, later, in the 1920s and 1930s to restrict immigration from anywhere but Great Britain.

New Zealand’s close ties with its Pacific Island colonies led to increasing immigration from the 1940s onwards. Although increasingly independent, many Pacific islands (for example the Cook Islands) have a constitutional relationship with New Zealand and their citizens are New Zealand citizens able to settle freely anywhere in the country. Today, around 300,000 (7.4%) of New Zealand’s population is counted as Pacific islander.

In recent years New Zealand’s immigration policy has undergone a dramatic shift and is now based on a points system. As a result, immigration from Asia has increased significantly – to the extend that 471,708 (11.8%) of New Zealanders reported in the last census that their ethnicity was Asian.

In total, more than 25% of New Zealanders reported in the 2013 census that they were born outside of New Zealand.


Christianity is the largest religion in New Zealand, although it is in decline. The percentage of Christians has fallen from 58.9% in 2001 to 47.6% in 2013.

Christian 201347.6%
Christian 200158.9%

This corresponds with a rise in the number of people who report that they have no religion – up from 29.6% in 2001 to 41.9% in 2013.

No religion 201341.9%
No religion 200129.6%

Other religious groups of significant size are Hindu (2.11%), Maori Christian (1.4%), Buddhist (1.5%) and Islam (1.2%).

No religion41.92%29.64%
Object to answering4.44%6.90%
Maori Christian1.36%1.83%
Other religions0.88%0.54%

Catholics are the largest group of Christians in New Zealand, with 12.6%, followed by Anglican (11.8%) and Presbyterian (8.5%).



English is the most common language in New Zealand – it is spoken by 96.1% of people. This is followed by Maori (3.7%), Samoan (2.2%) and Hindi (1.7%).


For many years, the use of Maori was discouraged in New Zealand and the number of speakers declined dramatically.

However, the Maori language has undergone a resurgence in recent years. In 1987, Maori was declared an official language of New Zealand and a number of Maori language TV channels are now broadcast.

Samoan is the most prominent non-official language, followed by a number of other languages spoken by immigrants to New Zealand – for example, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, French and German.

Literacy rate and Education

New Zealand’s literacy rate (reported by UNESCO) is 99% for both men and women.

Education in New Zealand is compulsory for children aged 6-16. Most are taught in free state funded schools but there is also a number of private schools and home schooling is allowed.

New Zealand invests heavily in tertiary (university) education. There are 469,107 students in tertiary education in New Zealand (2009 data) and more than 50% of New Zealanders hold a tertiary qualification.

New Zealand spends 6.2% of GDP on education.

Population density

New Zealand’s territory is 268,021km2 (or 103,483 m2).

This gives a population density (based on the New Zealand 2016 population) of 17.2 people per km2 or 44.4 people per km2.

New Zealand is one of the least densely populated countries in the world and is roughly as densely populated as Zambia or Sudan.

Other New Zealand demographics

Life expectancy

Latest data (2012-14) shows that life expectancy for females in New Zealand is 83.2 years. Life expectancy for males in New Zealand is slightly lower, at 79.5 years.

Life expectancy female83.2 years
Life expectancy male79.5 years

Non-Maori females have the highest life expectancy – at birth they can expect to live to 83.9 years. Non-Maori males can expect to live until 80.3 years.

Non-Maori life expectancy female83.9 years
Non-Maori life expectancy male80.3 years

Life expectancy for Maori in New Zealand is lower than for non-Maori, although the gap is narrowing. In 2012-14, the average life expectancy at birth is 77.1 years for a Maori female and 73.0 years for a Maori man.

Maori life expectancy female77.1 years
Maori life expectancy male73.0 years

Pacific Islanders also have a lower than average life expectancy, although slightly higher than the Maori life expectancy. Pacific Islander life expectancy at birth (2012-14) is 78.7 years for a female and 74.5 years for a male.

Pacific Islander life expectancy female78.7 years
Pacific Islander life expectancy male74.5 years

Statistics New Zealand have a handy calculator that you can use to estimate your life expectancy.

Median age

Median age in New Zealand is 38.0 years. Female median age is 38.9 years and male median age is 36.9 years.

Birth rate and death rate

New Zealand’s birth rate is 13.27 births per 1,000 people.

This compares with a lower death rate of 6.87 deaths per 1,000 people.

Birth rate13.27 per 1,000 people
Death rate6.87 deaths per 1,000 people

Fertility rate

New Zealand’s fertility rate is 1.99 births per woman.

New Zealand population pyramid

Here is a New Zealand population pyramid (2016).

New Zealand Population Pyramid 2016

We also recommend taking a look at this interactive New Zealand population pyramid.

New Zealand population growth table

YearPopulation% change +/-

Further reading

In parts, this work is based on/includes Statistics New Zealand’s data which are licensed by Statistics New Zealand for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. We would like to thank them for providing such a detailed resource. They have a comprehensive and easy to understand series of articles on their site that contain data and information about the population of New Zealand and we recommend visiting.

We also recommend visiting the Population Association of New Zealand and Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

What Continent is New Zealand in?

New Zealand is located on a submerged continent called Zealandia. It is a part of the wider region called Oceania (which is not a continent).

Some people argue that New Zealand should be considered a part of the Australian continent, or even that it is an island without a continent.

This article outlines the main arguments, and contains information about the submerged continent of Zealandia.

Is New Zealand a continent called Zealandia?

New Zealand is a part of a submerged continent called Zealandia. It is the largest part of the continent that is above water.

This topographical map shows the extent of the Zealandia continent. The parts in green are islands. The light blue represents the raised continental crust.

What Continent is New Zealand in

The two ridges that extend North East of New Zealand are Alpine ridges – they extend into New Zealand where they become the Southern Alps. Although the eastern coast of Australia is shown, it is not a part of Zealandia.

Today, almost all of Zealandia, which broke away from Gondwanaland 83 million years ago, is submerged under the Pacific Ocean. The few parts which are above the sea include New Zealand (population: 4.7 million), New Caledonia (pop: 252,000), Norfolk Island (pop: 2,302), the Lord Howe Island Group (pop: 347) and the unpopulated Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

TerritoryPart ofPopulationArea (square miles)
New ZealandNew Zealand4.7 million103,483
New CaledoniaFrance252,0007,172
Norfolk IslandAustralia2,30213.3
Lord Howe Island GroupAustralia3475.62
Elizabeth and Middleton ReefsAustralia0n/a

New Zealand itself was isolated from the rest of the world until 800 years ago, when the first humans (Maori) arrived. Because of this isolation it developed a unique environment free of natural predators.

Is New Zealand a part of Australia?

Some geologists argue that, because Zealandia is a continental fragment that broke away from the Australian continent, New Zealand should really be considered to be a part of Australia.

Leaving aside geography, politically New Zealand has very close ties with its close neighbour Australia. Because the geographical boundaries of continents are not clearly defined and subject to dispute, some people believe that the political argument that New Zealand is so closely linked to Australia means that – for practical purposes at least – it would be simplest to say that New Zealand is a part of the Australian continent.

Is New Zealand part of Oceania

New Zealand is a part of the Oceania region – although it is important to note that Oceania is not a continent. Instead, Oceania is a grouping of countries and islands spread across the Pacific Ocean.

Oceania Map

New Zealand is the second largest country in Oceania, after Australia, and plays a leading role in the region. Traditionally, New Zealand has the most influence in Polynesia, and Australia has the greater influence in Melanesia.

In most regional sports, New Zealand competes in Oceanian sporting competitions.

Is Australia a Country or a Continent?

Australia is both a country and a continent. The country called Australia is a part of the continent that is also called Australia.

Australia is also a part of the region called Oceania, which is not technically a continent. It is also a part of the region called Australasia, which is a sub-region of Oceania.

This article provides further information about how the continent of Australia is defined. It also answers questions about Oceania and Australasia. At the end of the article is a list of countries in Australia.

What continent is Australia in?

Australia (the country) is in Australia (the continent). However, experts disagree about what exactly constitutes the continent of Australia. Some argue that Australia (the continent) just includes the island of Australia and its surrounding islands. Others argue that the continent is much larger.

Australia Continent

At the lower end of the scale, are those who argue that the continent of Australia is comprised of just two major parts – the islands of Australia and Tasmania – plus a number of smaller islands scattered around their coasts.

Those who argue for Australia as a large continent include not just Australia itself, but the islands of New Guinea, Seram and Timor to the north, and even parts of New Zealand to the east.

There are also others who argue that, which Australia is a large continent, New Zealand should not be considered a part of the Australian continent. Instead, it should be considered as part of its own continent – a submerged continent called Zealandia.

The most commonly accepted definition is that Australia (the continent) is comprised of Australia (the country), plus New Zealand, New Guinea and Seram (an island in Indonesia). We have used this definition in compiling the list of countries in Australia that you will find at the end of this article.

Australia – the oldest continent

Australia is known as the oldest continent.

This is partly because, although Australia was formed at the same time as other continents, the rocks that make up its landscape are far older than the rocks that make up the landscape of other continents.

It is also because Australia was so distant from the rest of the world that its ecology was able to develop without much interference from the rest of the world. As a result, Australia’s ecology is very different to the ecologies of much of the rest of the world.

And, finally, it is because Australia was the last continent to be discovered by humans (aborigines first landed more than 40,000 years ago, although Europeans didn’t discover Australia until the early 17th century).

Is Oceania a Continent?

No. Oceania is not a continent. Instead, Oceania is a region.

The region of Oceania is usually divided into three smaller regions – Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.

Others prefer a broader geographical definition which includes all of the Pacific Islands (for example Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands and more), New Zealand, Australia and even the Malay Archipelago.

Here is a map that shows Oceania – it uses the broadest possible definition of what countries are in Oceania.

Oceania Map

The most common definition of Oceania (used by the UN and IOC) includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the small Pacific Island nations.

Is Australasia a Continent?

No, Australasia is not a continent.

Australasia is a region. It is made up of the part of Oceania that includes Australia, New Zealand, Guinea and a number of smaller islands.

The term Australasia is often used as a shorthand to refer to Australia and New Zealand at the same time.

How many countries are there in Australia?

As noted above, working out how many countries are in the Australian continent depends very much on what definition you use.

Australia continent 2

For the purposes of the list of countries below, we have taken a broad definition of the continent, including New Zealand, Timor and Seram (both in Indonesia) and New Guinea (split between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

List of Countries in Australia

Using the definition above, there are four countries in the continent of Australia. Three of these are full countries and one (Indonesia) is partly in Australia.

CountryPopulationArea (sq m)
Papua New Guinea7,619,321462,840
Indonesia (Seram and Western New Guinea)4,797,982467,640
New Zealand4,528,526268,021

Note: This table is sorted by population. It includes the population of Seram and Western New Guinea, two regions of Indonesia. The total population of Indonesia is 257,563,815. 

Australian history timeline

Quick Timeline (click each entry to read more)40,000 BC – First Aborigines arrive in Australia1606 – First European landfall in Australia1770 – James Cook lands and claims Australia for the British Empire1788 – First fleet of convicts arrives in Australia1851 – Australian gold rush begins1877 – Australia and England play the first cricket test match1901 – The Commonwealth of Australia is founded1911 – Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is founded1914 – The First World War begins1939 – The Second World War begins1948 – ‘Populate or Perish’ – Australia’s new immigration policy1956 – Melbourne hosts the Olympic Games1971 – Neville Bonner becomes Australia’s first aboriginal Senator1966 – The Australia Act – independence from Britain1993 – Native Title Act grants land rights to indigenous Australians2000 – Sydney hosts the Olympic Games2002 – The Bali bombings kill 88 Australians

This Australian history timeline covers all of the major events of Australia’s 40,000 year history – from the first arrival of aboriginal Australians tens of thousands of years ago, right up to the 21st century.

Click on any of the entries in the timeline below to read a more detailed explanation. 

40,000 BC – First Aborigines arrive in Australia

Thanks to archaeological records, we know that the first people to set foot on the continent of Australia arrived somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, towards the end of the Pleistocene era

At that time, sea levels were lower than they are today and New Guinea was joined to Australia. The first arrivals are thought to have come initially by sea, hopping from island to island in what is today Indonesia.

Over time, these settlers expanded across the entire Australian landmass, although the population was highest in the Southern and Eastern parts of the continent. They developed a sophisticated stone-age society, based on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

By the time the late eighteenth century, when the first European settlers began to arrive, the indigenous population of Australia was approximately 350,000 – 750,000 people, divided into what is thought to have been at least 250 different nations each with their own language. Within a hundred years, European settlers’ dominance of Australia was complete, although a few isolated tribes did survive with little to no contact well into the twentieth century.

The last tribe to give up it’s nomadic lifestyle – the Pintupi Nine of the Gibson Desert – did so only in 1984.

1606 – First European landfall in Australia

The first European person to set foot on the territory of present day Australia was Willem Janszoon, Dutch captain of the Duyfken. On 26 February 1606 he, and a number of un-named members of his icketew, landed at the mouth of what is today known as the Pennefather River in Queensland.

He had mistakenly thought he was landing on a southerly part of the island of New Guinea and named the territory Nieu Zeland – a name that was later adopted by some islands to the East…

Other European sailors, usually attached to the Dutch East India Company, returned to Australia at intermittent intervals over the following century and a half. No attempts were made to settle during this period, but much of the Australian coastline was mapped and there was some small scale trading with aboriginal people.

However, information about the newly discovered continent was not shared widely and, for most Europeans, Australia remained a mythical ‘Southern Continent.’

1770 – James Cook lands and claims Australia for the British Empire

In 1769, Lieutenant James Cook (not, as is commonly thought, Captain James Cook), took command of HMS Endeavour and set sail for the island of Tahiti.

Officially, his mission was to make astronomical observations, but really Cook had been given a secret mission by the British Admiralty. His role was to find out whether the ‘Southern Continent’ was real and, if it was, to chart it and claim its territory for the British Empire.

Captain Cook’s route

Cook and his crew first sighted Australia on 19 April 1770 and, ten days later on 29 April 1770, landed for the first time at Botany Bay. Five months later, on 22 August 1770, Cook formally claimed the territory of Australia for King George III and the British Empire, naming it New South Wales.

Other European powers also laid claim to parts of Australia – for example, the French claimed Western Australia in 1772 and Sweden briefly planned a colony at Swan River – but none of them followed up on their claims with an actual attempt to settle.

The British, however, did…

1788 – First fleet of convicts arrives in Australia

On 13 May 1787 a fleet of eleven ships set sail from Portsmouth. Two Royal Navy escort ships, three supply ships and six transport ships filled with crew, marines and more than eight hundred convicts, all bound for the new British territory of Australia.

Although they first landed at Botany Bay on 18 January 1770, Captain Arthur Phillip quickly deemed the land there unsuitable for habitation and, instead, set up the first colony in Australia at Sydney Cove. 

More ships filled with convicts followed and, by the time the last convict arrived in Australia in 1868, over 130,000 men and 25,000 women had been transported to Australia’s penal colonies.

The first free settlers arrived in 1793, and began building a life alongside the convicts. But, for the first thirty five years of its existence New South Wales remained primarily a penal colony.

1851 – Australian gold rush begins

Although colonists had know for many years that gold existed in Australia, the discovery of five flecks by Edward Hargreaves in 1851 led to a gold rush to rival the earlier California gold rushes.

Within months, hundreds of diggers had flocked to Bathurst, the site of Hargreaves’ discovery. Other gold sites were discovered throughout Victoria and New South Wales, and the first diggers were followed by tens of thousands more miners, plus other settlers to support them.

Within a decade, more than a third of the world’s gold was being mined in Australia, a country that was suddenly becoming very rich.

The gold rush also led to discontent and violence. Heavy handed taxes imposed by the government caused anger and, in December 1854, the diggers simmering anger boiled over into the Eureka Rebellion, a conflict that would shape Australia’s democratic future.

More than a thousand diggers gathered in Eureka, demanding a reduction in the cost of mining licences, an end to government harassment, and calling for an end to taxation without representation.

The government’s response was swift, and violent. The diggers were overrun and more than 30 were killed in what as known as the battle of Eureka Stockade.

Although the battle was lost, the government recognised that changes were needed and a sweeping programme of reforms was implemented the next year, including the introduction of voting rights for miners. Because of this, the Eureka rebellion is celebrated as a key moment in Australian history. Mark Twain, visiting years later, remarked:

It was a revolution—small in size; but great politically; it was a strike for liberty, a struggle for principle, a stand against injustice and oppression … It is another instance of a victory won by a lost battle.

Mark Twain

An indication of just how important the Gold Rush was to Australia’s development can be seen in Australia’s population statistics. In just a decade, the colony’s population almost trebled – growing from 405,000 in 1850 to 1.1 million in 1860.

1877 – Australia and England play the first cricket test match

Australia has the distinction of being host to the first ever test match, contested between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – a ground which, even in 1877, was large enough to warrant a grandstand.

Opening batsman Charles Bannerman led Australia from the front. He scored test cricket’s first ever run and its first century before retiring hurt on a score of 165, helping Australia to a respectable first innings total of 245.

England, led by James Lillywhite, had been favourites to win the match but its batsmen, sadly missing the strength of the legendary W.G. Grace, could not match their hosts. They fell short with a first innings total of 196. Although England out-scored Australia by 108 to 104 in the second innings, it was not enough to prevent the first of many English defeats on Australian soil.

The Ashes were first used as a trophy in matches between the two countries after England’s first defeat on home soil, five years later in August 1882. The Sporting Times posted a mock obituary of English cricket: “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

A small urn, containing the ashes of one of the bails, was duly taken to Australia and, since 1883, cricket teams representing Australia and England have fought for the honour of retaining the Ashes.  

1901 – The Commonwealth of Australia is founded

Half a world away from Britain, home of the British Empire, the Australian colonies could only function if they had a great deal of autonomy.

Over time, as the number of people born in Australia gradually became the majority of all people living in Australia and technological advances such as the telegraph allowed speedy communication between the various Australian colonies, calls for increased autonomy and self government became irresistible.

Australia’s first constitutional convention was held in 1891, in Sydney. Representatives of each of the six colonies, plus New Zealand, gathered together to develop constitution that could be used by a federation of the Australian states and New Zealand.

Although New Zealand dropped out of the process early on, enough progress had been made by the time of the second (1897-98) convention to produce a draft constitution which, after some further amendments, was ratified by referendums in each of the six colonies.

The next step was to return to London. In July 1900, the House of Parliament debated, and then passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. Several days later, on 9 July 1900, Queen Victoria signed the Act into law.

  Read more about Australia’s constitution…

You can read the Australian constitution on the Parliament of Australia website. Or, because it is also technically still a law in Britain as well, you can also read it on the UK Parliament website!

The Commonwealth of Australia came into existence on 1 January 1901. From that point on, although it was still technically a colony of the British Empire, Australia effectively had self-government and full autonomy over its own affairs.

The last formal ties with the United Kingdom were severed in 1986 when the Australian Parliament and the UK Parliament both based the Australia Act. Click here to jump to the section about the Australia Act.

1911 – Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is founded

One of the first things any new country needs to have is a capital city.

Although Australia’s first capital city was, because of necessity, Melbourne, this was not a good long term solution.

The problem was that no-one really wanted the capital of Australia to be in either of its two largest cities – Sydney or Melbourne.

Leaving aside the political problem of choosing one of these two rival cities over the other, they were both hot in summer, and too close to the coast for comfort.

The solution? Create a new city entirely from scratch in a location that is both temperate and safe from sea bombardment, and make it the nations capital.

An enclave of land in New South Wales, known as Canberra-Yass was chosen, the Australian Capital Territory was formed, and a competition was launched to design a new model city.

Construction began shortly afterwards and, by 9 May 1927, Canberra was ready for the opening of the Provisional Parliament House (today known as Old Parliament House).

Today, Canberra is home to 380,000 people. It remains the seat of Australia’s Government and Australia’s Capital City.

1914 – The First World War begins

The First World War was Australia’s first major military conflict, and the one that has had the most profound impact on its society.

From Gallipoli in Turkey, to the Western Front in France and Belgium, thousands of Australian men fought and died on the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East. Of the 331,781 Australian men who served, 152,284 (almost half) were injured and 60,284 (one in five) died. 

Australia’s first involvement in the war was the hastily assembled Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. Two thousands sailors and soldiers set sail from Sydney on 19 August 1914, just two weeks after the declaration of war, in a successful mission to capture German New Guinea.

Troops of the First Australian Imperial Force were then quickly assembled and sent north to Europe and the Middle East.

In the early years of the war, most Australians were based in Egypt, to fight against the threat posed by the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The Gallipoli campaign the first major campaign of the war. On 25 April 1915, thousands of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand (ANZACs), alongside others from Britain, India and France, landed on the peninsula of Gallipoli. Their ultimate goal was to defeat the Ottoman Empire, and capture Constantinople, its capital city.

The campaign was, from start to finish, a disaster. Allied forces quickly became bogged down and, after eight months of brutal fighting, were forced to withdraw. By the end of a campaign that the Sydney Morning Herald called Australia’s “Baptism of Fire”, almost 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed, alongside more than 50,000 troops from Britain, France and other parts of the Empire.

Australian soldiers also fought on the Western Front, taking part in the brutal trench warfare that characterised the first world war. In total, more than 40,000 Australian soldiers lost their lives on the Western Front.

The bloodiest single day of the war for Australia came on the night of 19th and 20th July 1916 at the Battle of Fromelles in Northern France. In a period of just 24 hours Australian forces suffered 5,533 casualties as they attempted, and failed, to capture territory from the Germans.

The impact of the First World War on Australia was immense, particularly the Gallipoli Campaign, which has become an enduring symbol of Australia’s national identity. Although it was a massive military defeat, it singled Australia’s coming of age as a nation and Australia’s soldiers are celebrated for showing the Anzac Spirit – the courage, determination and mateship that defines Australia today.

1939 – The Second World War begins

After standing down the bulk of its military after the First World War, Australia was underprepared for the Second. When Australia declared war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939, its regular army numbered just 3,000 troops

Military strength was quickly ramped up to almost a million servicemen and women. In total 575,799 Australians served overseas during World War 2 – that’s almost one in every ten Australians at the time.

Casualties were much lower than in the first world war – 39,429 Australians died in the Second World War, and 66,563 were injured

More than a hundred Australian pilots also fought alongside the RAF during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

More difficult defensive battles were to follow. Australians were heavily involved in fighting in Greece and, in particular, the lost Battle of Crete in May 1941. The same summer, however, 14,000 soldiers held firm under a five month German siege of Tobruk – their determined defence earning them the name ‘Rats of Tobruk’.

Because Australia had committed the bulk of its military forces to the conflict in Europe and North Africa, it was not well prepared to resist the Japanese advance in the Pacific in 1942.

In the months following the raid on Pearl Harbour, a lack of airpower, naval power and manpower meant that Australian and British Empire strongholds throughout the Pacific fell one after the other. After a disorganised, determined, and desperate last stand in Singapore, 80,000 allied soldiers, including 15,000 Australians, were taken as Japanese Prisoners of War.

Dozens air raids on northern Australian towns brought the war to Australian territory – between 900 and 1,100 people were killed in the Darwin air raid of 19 February 1942. These raids, combined with a Japanese invasion of New Guinea, prompted fears that a Japanese invasion of Australia itself was planned.

With Britain pre-occupied in Europe, Australia turned to Washington for support in the Pacific War. A deal was swiftly agreed which put Australian forces under the command of US General Douglas MacArthur. By 1943 there were more American troops in Australia than there were Australian troops.

Australian troops focused on pushing the Japanese from New Guinea – a feat which, in the face of dogged Japanese resistance was only achieved in April 1944, while the Americans focused on attacking Japan’s new Pacific islands strongholds.

As a part of the deal with America, Australia also scaled back its direct military involvement in the overall conflict. Instead, it focused on boosting production of military weaponry and supplies for allied troops engaged elsewhere.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, Australia took over responsibility for administering territories such as Borneo and Lombok, and for guarding more than 300,000 Japanese who had been stranded across the Pacific by the Allied advance. Many Australian troops continued to serve overseas for a time, but demobilisation of the Australian army was rapid and completed by February 1947.

1948 – ‘Populate or Perish’ – Australia’s new immigration policy

Between 1945 and 1965 over two million immigrants came to Australia. They travelled from all over the world, mostly from a Europe scarred by years of conflict. Together, they changed Australia forever.

In the aftermath of the second world war, Australia had two problems.

The first was that its economy, especially its manufacturing economy, had grown massively during the war. People were needed to work in the factories – more people than Australia had.

The second was that the resource rich, but sparsely populated, territories of Australia had looked incredibly appealing to other powers – not least the Japanese. “Populate or Perish” was the catchy slogan of Authur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration.

The solution was to open up immigration to people from across Europe, as well as to British migrants. Victims of European conflict became the first priority and, between 1947 and 1953, Australia accepted over 170,000 displaced persons.

The policy was helped by a decision taken in Britain and other parts of its Empire, to change the law so that residents of countries like Australia and New Zealand would, instead of being British citizens, become Australian citizens, or New Zealand citizens. The British Nationality Act 1948 and the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 each came into force on 26 January 1949, and the first Australian citizens were created.

Displaced migrants from Europe were followed by economic migrants from Britain and the rest of Europe. Any Britain who could pay ten pounds (leading to the nickname ‘Ten Pound Toms’) could emigrate to Australia. And hundreds of thousands came from other countries in Europe – the most popular countries of origin for 1950s migrants were Italy, Germany, Holland and Greece. 

Almost all migrants to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s were white – immigrants from non-white countries were strongly discouraged for many years. Those that did come – for example, from the pacific islands, faced discrimination. The White Australia policy began to be abandoned in the 1960s, and today the majority of immigrants to Australia come from Asia.

1956 – Melbourne hosts the Olympic Games

The 1956 Melbourne Olympics were a global statement of Australia’s new found confidence. As host to the first Olympics ever to be held outside of Europe or the United States, Melbourne gave Australia a showcase on the world stage.

The Olympic Committee had been keen to take the Olympics to a new region, and Melbourne beat Buenos Aires of Argentina in the contest to host the Games by a narrow margin of just 21 votes to 20.  

The ‘Friendly Games’ as they were called, drew 3,314 athletes from 72 nations, to compete in 17 different sports. With thirteen gold medals, eight silver medals and fourteen bronze medals, Australia came third in the 1956 Olympic medal table behind only the Soviet Union (37 golds) and the United States (32 golds).

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was the main stadium for the 1956 Games, host to the opening and closing ceremonies, the athletics events, and the finals of the football and hockey tournaments.

Some facts about the Melbourne Olympic Games

  • The MCG was not only host to the main events. An exhibition baseball game at the stadium attracted an estimated 102,000 spectators!
  • The infamous Blood in the Water water polo match was played in Melbourne. The game became so violent that police were called in to restore order.
  • ​The 1956 closing ceremony marked the first occasion where teams marched together, instead of in groups divided by country.
  • All of the equestrian events at the 1956 Olympics were actually held in Stockholm, Sweden, several months earlier. This is because strict import rules barred competitors from bringing their horses to Australia.

1971 – Neville Bonner becomes Australia’s first aboriginal Senator

One of the more shameful aspects of Australia’s history is that <a href=””>it wasn’t until the 1960s that all aboriginal people were entitled to vote in elections</a>.

Although limited voting rights were extended to indigenous Australians in the late 19th centuries, the ‘White Australia’ policy had rolled back many of these advances. Supported by the 1901 Commonwealth Franchise Act, almost all Aboriginal people were prevented from voting in elections.

These rules were relaxed slightly in 1949, when Aboriginal people who had served in the military were granted the right to vote, but it was not until 1965 that the franchise was extended to all Aboriginals in Australia.

Neville Bonner became the first indigenous Australian to sit in the Federal Parliament when, on 11 June 1971, he was appointed by the Liberal Party to fill a vacant seat in the Senate. Bonner was re-elected in competitive elections in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1980, going on to serve as Senator for Queensland until February 1983.

As an activist Senator, Bonner was prepared to cross the floor and vote against his own party when he deemed it necessary – an approach that won him both respect and political enemies. In his first Senate speech, on 8 September, he said that he would play “the role which my State of Queensland, my race, my background, my political beliefs, my knowledge of men and circumstances dictate.”

Bonner’s lack of party loyalty was probably a factor in the Liberal Party’s decision not to select him as a candidate in the 1983 elections. He went on to unsuccessfully fight the 1983 election as an independent candidate.

Bonner was named Australian of the Year in 1979

Neville Bonner remains one of only five indigenous Australians to have served in Australia’s Federal Parliament – the others are Aden Ridgeway (Democrat, Senator, New South Wales), Ken Wyatt (Liberal, MP, Hasluck, Western Australia), Nova Peris (Labor, Senator, Northern Territory) and Joanna Lindgren (LNP, Senator, Queensland).

1966 – The Australia Act – independence from Britain

Although, by 1986, Australia had been effectively independent of the United Kingdom for many years, it was still technically possible for the UK to pass laws that would apply in Australia. It was also possible for legal appeals to be heard at the UK’s Privy Council, rather than in Australia.

To prevent this from ever happening, the Australia Act 1986 was introduced. In the same way as other laws that would separate the UK and Australia (for example, the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act and the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, both of which are discussed earlier in this article) the Australia Act 1986 was passed in both England and Australia. 

The Act made it impossible for any UK laws to be introduced in Australia. The Act also made it impossible for constitutional appeals to be heard in the UK’s Privy Council – instead, the High Court of Australia became the final venue for all appeals.

Despite this, the Queen remains Australia’s head of state. She is represented in Australia by the Governor General. Although the Queen and Governor General’s powers are mostly ceremonial, they do still technically have the right to appoint or dismiss the Prime Minister, and to dissolve the House of Representatives. These powers have only once been used unilaterally – in the Australian Constitutional Crisis of 1975, also known as ‘The Dismissal’.

Australia held a referendum in 1999 to consider whether it should replace the Queen as head of state and replace her with a President. The vote was lost, with 55% of Australians voting against the proposal, and 45% voting for it.

Many people still believe that Australia should become a republic, although Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister, said in 2015 that he did not believe any changes were likely until after the end of the Queen’s reign.

You can read a good overview of republicanism in Australia here

1993 – Native Title Act grants land rights to indigenous Australians

Although indigenous Australians were, as their name suggests, in Australia first, for centuries they did not have any right to land or waters that they had originally owned or used.

Land rights for indigenous Australians became a topical issue in the 1960s, when Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory began to protest against the use of their traditional land, largely for mining. As a result, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 was passed. It gave indigenous Australians increased rights over their lands – but only in the Northern Territory.

In the 1980s, public and political opinion began to recognise the importance of land rights. A set of principles was outlined in 1983, but then quickly dropped in 1985 under pressure from mining companies.

Pressure continued to build on the government but it wasn’t until 1993, when the Native Title Act was introduced, that Australia finally had a “national system for the recognition and protection of native title.”

The Act sets out a clear legal process which native Australians can use to prove that they have title to land based on traditional law and custom, rather than formal ownership documents. It also compels the Social Justice Commissioner to prepare a report about native rights each year.

2000 – Sydney hosts the Olympic Games

If the 1956 Melbourne Olympics announced Australia’s arrival on the world stage, the 2000 Sydney Olympics demonstrated Australia’s maturity and self-confidence.

Cathy Freeman was the undoubted star of the Games for Australia. She lit the Olympic Torch at the opening ceremony, going some way to demonstrating Australia’s increased comfort with its multi-cultural heritage. The Guardian newspaper called Freeman “a symbol of Australia’s edgy transformation from the white male-dominated imperial outpost that staged the 1956 Olympics to the multicultural melting pot of 2000.”

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, on an unforgettable night Freeman blazed her way to a gold medal in the 400 metres final. She remains, to this day, the only person to have lit the Olympic flame and to have won an Olympic gold medal

10,651 athletes from 199 countries took part in the Sydney Games, competing in 300 different sporting events. Australia finished fourth in the medal table, with 58 medals – 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze. Ahead of them in the final table were China (28 golds, 58 total medals), Russia (32 golds, 89 total medals) and the United States (37 golds, 93 total medals).

The Sydney Olympic Stadium (now known as the ANZ stadium) was the centrepiece venue for the Sydney Games, packing in a record 114,714 spectators for the closing ceremony – the highest attendance ever recorded for a modern Olympic event. Today the stadium is in regular use as a venue for concerts, rugby (union and league), soccer, australian rules, speedway, and even international cricket.

2002 – The Bali bombings kill 88 Australians

On 12 October 2002, suicide bombers exploded two bombs at Paddy’s Pub in Bali, Indonesia. One bomber detonated a device in his backpack, inside the pub. Then, seconds later, a second bomber detonated a car bomb just outside the pub.

Together, the bombs killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 27 British. A further 209 people were injured in the blasts.

For some, the Bali bombings marked Australia’s loss of innocence; a day when the horrors of the world came to Australia’s backyard.

Australia’s response has, for the most part, been a nuanced one. Although it has significantly beefed up its anti-terrorism operations and been prepared to take a muscular approach to foreign policy, it has balanced this with a recognition that Australia cannot be secure without good relations with its neighbours.

To that end, Australian foreign policy has emphasised building bilateral and multilateral relationships with other countries in South East Asia and working with others to make South East Asia and Oceania as stable as possible.

Australian Flag

The Australian flag was introduced in 1901 and has been the national flag of Australia ever since. It represents Australia’s British heritage and its position in the Southern hemisphere.

Although there are some within Australia lobbying for the introduction of a new Australian state flag to better represent its current, multicultural identity, demand for a change does not seem strong.

This article contains Australian flag facts and information, as well as links to download your own copies of the flag of Australia. It also contains information about the Aboriginal flag and about the flags of each of Australia’s states.

What does the Australian flag look like?

The Australian flag has a blue background, a union jack in the upper left quarter, the Commonwealth star in the lower left, and five white stars on the right which represent the Southern Cross constellation.

Australian Flag

The exact construction of the Australian flag is set out in Schedule 1 of the Flags Act of 1953. Under the act:

  • the Union Jack must occupy the upper quarter next the staff
  • a large white star (the Commonwealth Star) must be placed in the centre of the lower quarter next the staff. The star must point directly at the centre of St George’s Cross in the Union Jack and must contain seven points
  • 5 white stars (the Southern Cross) must be placed in the half of the flag further from the staff, as follows:
    • Alpha Crucis – On middle line, one-sixth from bottom edge
    • Beta Crucis – One-quarter from middle line, at right angles on left to a point on middle line one-sixteenth above centre of fly
    • Gamma Crucis – On middle line one-sixth from top edge
    • Delta Crucis – Two-ninths from middle line at right angles on right to a point one-fifteenth above a point on middle line one-sixteenth above centre of fly
    • Epsilon Crucis – One-tenth from middle line at right angles on right to a point on middle line one twenty-fourth below centre of fly

All of the Australian flag stars should have seven points, with the exception of the star representing Epsilon Crucis, which should have only five points.

Here is a template which explains how to position each of the elements on the Australian flag.


Australian flag colors

The background of the Australian flag is blue, the Union jack is blue, red and white, and the stars are all white. Here is a table which provides details of the colours that should be used in Pantone, RGB (red, green, blue) and Hex (hexadecimal) format.

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What does the Australian flag mean?

The flag of Australia was introduced in 1901 to mark its transition into the Commonwealth of Australia. So, what do each of the symbols on the Aussie flag mean?

Union Jack

The Union Jack in the upper left quadrant symbolised Australia’s close relationship with the United Kingdom. When the flag was introduced, the Commonwealth of Australia was an integral, but autonomous, part of the British Empire – because of this, it seemed natural to include the union jack prominantly on the national flag.

Although Australia today is a fully independent country – and has been since 1931 – it remains a member of the British Commonwealth, and the Queen is its head of state. The union jack today represents Australia’s heritage as a former colony and its close links with the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth Star / Federation Star

The Commonwealth Star, in the lower left quadrant, represents the different colonies that joined together to create the Commonwealth of Australia. When the flag was first introduced, it had six points to represent the six different colonies. Because the six colonies were joining together to form a federation, the Commonwealth Star is sometimes referred to as the Federation Star.

A seventh point was added to the Commonwealth Star in 1908 to represent Australia’s territories.

Southern Cross

The five stars in the lower right quadrant represent the Southern Cross. This is a bright constellation that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere and, importantly, could not be seen in the United Kingdom. This provided Australian with a graphical representation of its difference from its colonial homeland.

The five stars of the Southern Cross are, from highest on the flag to lowest:

  • Gamma Crucis
  • Delta Crucis
  • Beta Crucis
  • Epsilon Crucis
  • Alpha Crucis

When was the Australian flag introduced?

Australian flag competitionThe flag was first introduced and flown in 1901. To celebrate it’s federation, the Australian Commonwealth government held a competition to choose the national flag.

With a prize of £200, worth more than £20,000 today ($38,000 AUS, $28,000 US) the competition attracted a stunning 32,823 designs.

According to wikipedia, the designs were judged on seven criteria: “loyalty to the Empire, Federation, history, heraldry, distinctiveness, utility and cost of manufacture.”

Five winners, who had submitted very similar designs shared the prize money, and the new design was unveiled and first flown on 3 September 1901 outside the Royal Exhibition building in Melbourne.

Since 1996, this date has been celebrated as Australia’s national flag day (although this is not a public holiday).

A New Australian Flag?

Australia has intermittently debated whether to change its flag to something that better represents its independence from the United Kingdom and its modern, multicultural identity. This debate has gained some additional impetus in recent years as Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand, debates adopting a new flag.

Australian flag debate

There are two main organisations promoting the development of a new flag – the Australian National Flag Association ( Ausflag ( Their main arguments for dropping the current flag in favour of a new one seem to be primarily about the inclusion of the Union Jack. There are very few complaints about the stars on the Australian flag. The key arguments used are that the Union Jack:

  • makes the Australian flag too similar to the flags of other British colonies and existing British territories;
  • implies that Australia is not fully independent from the UK;
  • doesn’t reflect Australia’s moden, multicultural society;
  • doesn’t reflect Australia’s aboriginal peoples.

The main argument for maintaining the current flag seems to be that, despite it’s similarity to other flags, it has established itself as a broadly popular symbol of Australia, and that no widely supported alternative has been identified or designed.

Overall, there is not strong demand in Australia for a change, so the current flag seems secure – for the time being at least.

Australian Red Ensign

In its design, the Red Ensign is almost exactly the same as the Australian national flag. It contains the Union Jack in its upper left corner, the Confederation Star, and the six stars of the Southern Cross. The only difference is that the background of the red ensign is red, instead of blue.

Australian Red Ensign Flag

Historically, the blue Australian flag (the blue ensign) was reserved for official state and government usage, and the red ensign was reserved for the use of private citizens.

The 1953 Flags Act clarified that the blue ensign was the official national Australian flag, and the red ensign would become the official flag of the Australian merchant navy.

Australia flag map

Here is a picture of an Australian flag map. It contains a copy of the Austlalian flag on a map of Australia. To download the map, click on the picture – you will be taken to a separate page where you can then save the image.

Please note that not all of the stars of the Southern Cross are visible on this map because of the shape of the Australian continent!

Australia Flag Map

Alternatively, if you’d prefer, here is an upside-down flag map of Australia!

Upside-down Australia flag map

Australian state flags

Each Australian state has its own flag. In common with the national flag, each state flag is a blue ensign (that is to say, it has a blue background) and contains a union jack in the upper left quadrant. On the right hand side of each state’s flag there is an emblem to represent the individual state.

Some Australian state flags were adopted before Australia’s national flag.

New South Wales

Adopted 18 February 1876.

Australia New South Wales flag 1024

The New South Wales state flag contains a badge with the red cross of St George on a white background. A golden lion is positioned in the centre, surrounded by four eight pointed golden stars on each arm of the cross.

The NSW state badge was designed by James Burnett and Captain Francis Hixson.


First adopted 29 November 1876, current version adopted 1953.

Australia Queensland flag 1024

The Queensland state flag contians a badge with a light blue Maltese Cross on a white disc. A St Edwards crown is positioned at the centre of the cross. The design of the crown changes to reflect the crown chosen by the reigning monarch.

The Queensland state badge was designed by William Hemmant.

South Australia

Adopted 1904.

Australia South Australia flag 1024

The South Australian state flag contains a piping shrike (a bird similar to a magpie) on a yellow disc. The piping shrike is the state bird of Southern Australia.

The South Australian state badge was designed by Robert Craig.


Adopted 29 November 1875.

Australia Tasmania flag 1024

The Tasmanian state flag contains a red lion on a white disc. The lion is thought to symbolise the colony’s ties with Britain.


First adopted 30 November 1877, current version adopted in 1953.

Australia Victoria flag 1024

The Victoria state flag contains a St Edwards Crown atop a constellation of the five white stars of the Southern Cross. Unlike the Australian flag, the number of points on each of the stars varies – from five points to eight.

The design of the crown on the Victoria flag changes to reflect the crown chosen by the reigning monarch.

Australian Aboriginal flag

The Australian Aboriginal flag was designed by Harold Thomas in 1971 and is widely regarded as a symbol of Australia’s aboriginals.

Australian Aboriginal Flag 1024

The flag is divided into two horizontal bars, or black and red, with a yellow disc in the centre. According to Thomas, the different elements of his flag represent:

  • Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia
  • Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector
  • Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land

The aboriginal flag was first used on 12 July 1971, at an event in Adelaide to represent National Aborigines Day. Cathy Freeman carried the Aboriginal and Australian flags together at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 to celebrate her victory lap after winning both the 200 and 400 metre sprint events.

It was given official status in 1995, and then again in 2008, as “the flag of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and a flag of significance to the Australian nation generally.”

Harold Thomas continues to work as an artist. You can see and buy his work here: