Indigenous

Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. Recent findings indicate that Indigenous Australians are probably descendants of the first modern humans to migrate out of Africa. They migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous to the Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northernmost tip of Queensland near Papua New Guinea. The term “Aboriginal” is traditionally applied to only the indigenous inhabitants of mainland Australia and Tasmania, along with some of the adjacent islands, i.e., the “first peoples”. Indigenous Australians is an inclusive term used when referring to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders. The earliest definite human remains found to date are those of Mungo Man, which have been dated at about 40,000 years old (although comparison of the mitochondrial DNA with that of ancient and modern Aborigines indicate Mungo Man is unrelated to Australian Aborigines). However, the time of arrival of the ancestors of Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers, with estimates dating back as far as 125,000 years ago. There is great diversity among different Indigenous communities and societies in Australia, each with its own unique mixture of cultures, customs and languages. In present-day Australia these groups are further divided into local communities. Although there were over 250–300 spoken languages with 600 dialects at the start of European settlement, fewer than 200 of these remain in use, and all but 20 are considered to be endangered. Aboriginal people today mostly speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English. The population of Indigenous Australians at the time of permanent European settlement has been estimated at between 318,000 and 1,000,000 with the distribution being similar to that of the current Australian population, with the majority living in the south-east, centred along the Murray River. Since 1995, the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag have been among the official “Flags of Australia”.