The original inhabitants of Australia
were the Aborigines who probably landed on the island continent around 40,000 years ago. It seems that the Aborigines were a largely peaceful people living in many different tribes across the vast landscape.
On 26 January 1788, the British arrived and claimed Australia
for its own, claiming the land as ‘terra nullius’, or, before conquest, ‘empty land’. Though most Australians would appear to recognize now that the land was not indeed ‘empty land’ at the time of British settlement, this day is still celebrated as ‘Australia Day’ and is a national holiday.
Although many British settlers from that time onwards were convicts – many of whom were sentenced to exile for what would appear to be very trivial crimes today – and therefore the population was predominantly Anglo-European in origin, the makeup of the Australian people changed vastly during the 20th century.
After World War II, Australia
accepted many immigrants from a war-torn Europe, particularly from Italy and Greece, and since the 1970’s there have been huge increases in Asian immigration to its shores. The very many cultures and races living harmoniously in Australia
in the 21st century is testament to the success of its own particular brand of modern multiculturalism.