Aborigines (Australia) flag 90 x 150 cm
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands and the descendants of these peoples. Indigenous Australians are distinguished as either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, who currently together make up about 2.7% of Australia's population.
The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous to the Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northern-most tip of Queensland near Papua New Guinea. The term "Aboriginal" has traditionally been applied to indigenous inhabitants of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and some of the other adjacent islands.
The earliest definite human remains found to date are that of Mungo Man, which have been dated at about 40,000 years old, but the time of arrival of the ancestors of Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers, with estimates ranging as high 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 750,000, 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.