An original inhabitant of Australia. The Aborigines comprise several physically distinct groups of dark‐skinned hunter‐gatherers who arrived in prehistoric times and brought with them the dingo. Before the arrival of Europeans they were scattered through the whole continent, including Tasmania. In 1788 the Aboriginal population was estimated to stand at around 250,000–300,000 and was divided into more than 500 linguistic groups. Today about 1.5% of the people of Australia are Aborigines. Although over 65% now live in towns and cities, the cultural heritage of the Aborigines has been protected in recent years by changes in Australian federal and state laws that have established land rights, community development programmes, and educational assistance. The Australian parliament expressed regret, but did not apologize, for past injustices to Aborigines in 1999.
Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.