Australia’s population by country of birth

Australia’s estimated resident population (ERP) by country of birth is measured at 30 June each year. This data is available at the national level annually.

For state and territory, see the following chapter — State and territory populations by country of birth. It is only available for Census years.

Key findings

In 2020, there were over 7.6 million migrants living in Australia. This was 29.8% of the population that were born overseas. One year earlier, in 2019, there were 7.5 million people born overseas.

Nearly every single country from around the world was represented in Australia’s population in 2020.

  • England (980,400) continued to be the largest group of overseas-born living in Australia. However, this decreased from just over a million, recorded throughout the period 2012 to 2016
  • Those born in India (721,000) were in second place, with an increase of 56,300 people
  • Chinese-born (650,600) fell to third place, with 17,300 fewer people
  • Those born in Australia (18.0 million) increased 211,400 during the year.</li

Australia’s population by country of birth

Historically, more people immigrate to, than emigrate from, Australia thereby adding to the growth of the national population. The various waves of migrants from numerous countries over time, have had an important effect on the diversity of Australia’s population.

High levels of immigration in the years before 1891 resulted in 32% of the population enumerated as overseas-born in the first country-wide census in 1891. In 2020 the proportion of Australia’s population born overseas was 30%.

Graph 1.1 Percentage of overseas-born, Australia – at 30 June – 1891 to 2020(a)(b)

  • Line chart with 131 data points.
  • View as data table, Graph 1.1 Percentage of overseas-born, Australia – at 30 June – 1891 to 2020(a)(b)
  • The chart has 1 X axis displaying Year.
  • The chart has 1 Y axis displaying %. Range: 0 to 35.
  • Year%Percentage of overseas-born18901895190019051910191519201925193019351940194519501955196019651970197519801985199019952000200520102015202005101520253035

Graph 1.1 Percentage of overseas-born, Australia – at 30 June – 1891 to 2020(a)(b)

End of interactive chart.

  • Census years only until 1981. Post-1981 based on estimated resident population at 30 June.
  • Population estimates for 2020 are preliminary – see ERP status in paragraph 9 of the Methodology.

In 2020, those born in England (980,400 people) continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents, accounting for 3.8% of Australia’s total population. This year, residents from India (721,000) moved into second position, replacing China (650,600).

Table 1.2 Australia’s population by top 10 countries of birth – at 30 June 2020(a)

Country of birth(b) ‘000’
England 980
India 721
China(d) 651
New Zealand 565
Philippines 310
Vietnam 270
South Africa 200
Italy 178
Malaysia 177
Sri Lanka 147
All overseas-born 7,654
Australian-born 18,043
  1. Population estimates for 2020 are preliminary – see ERP status in paragraph 9 of the Methodology.
  2. Top 10 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2020.
  3. Proportion of the total population of Australia.
  4. Excludes SARs and Taiwan

Graph 1.3 Overseas-born – top 10 countries of birth, Australia – at 30 June – 2010, 2015 and 2020(a)(b)

  • Bar chart with 3 data series.
  • View as data table, Graph 1.3 Overseas-born – top 10 countries of birth, Australia – at 30 June – 2010, 2015 and 2020(a)(b)
  • The chart has 1 X axis displaying .
  • The chart has 1 Y axis displaying Thousands. Range: 0 to 1100.
  • Thousands201020152020EnglandIndiaChina(c)New ZealandPhilippinesVietnamSouthAfricaItalyMalaysiaSri Lanka01002003004005006007008009001,0001,100

Graph 1.3 Overseas-born – top 10 countries of birth, Australia – at 30 June – 2010, 2015 and 2020(a)(b)

End of interactive chart.

  • Top 10 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2020.
  • Population estimates for 2020 are preliminary – see ERP status in paragraph 9 of the Methodology.
  • Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

Country of birth by age and sex

There are differences in the age structure of people born in Australia and those born overseas. Those born in Australia dominate the younger age groups, while the overseas-born increase from the 20-24 year age group. The main reason there are fewer overseas-born in the very young age groups is that most people are far less likely to migrate with young families.

In 2020 the highest proportions of the population for those born:

  • overseas, were aged 30-34 years and those aged 35-39 years (each 2.9%), with 1.4% being males and 1.5% females for each age group.
  • In Australia, were aged 0-4 years (5.8%), with 3.0% being males and 2.8% females.

For comparison, in 2010 the highest proportions of the population for those born:

  • overseas, were aged 25-29 years (2.4%), with 1.2% each being males and females.
  • In Australia, were aged 0-4 years (6.3%), with 3.3% being males and 3.1% females.

Graph 1.4 Population structures for Australian-born and overseas-born – at 30 June 2020(a)(b)

  • Bar chart with 4 data series.
  • View as data table, Graph 1.4 Population structures for Australian-born and overseas-born – at 30 June 2020(a)(b)
  • The chart has 1 X axis displaying Age group (years).
  • The chart has 2 Y axes displaying Males (%) and Females (%).
  • Age group (years)Males (%)Females (%)Australian-born (Males)Overseas-born (Males)Australian-born (Females)Overseas-born (Females)0 – 45 – 910 – 1415 – 1920 – 2425 – 2930 – 3435 – 3940 – 4445 – 4950 – 5455 – 5960 – 6465 – 6970 – 7475 – 7980 – 8485 – 8990 – 9495 – 99100 +0123401234

Graph 1.4 Population structures for Australian-born and overseas-born – at 30 June 2020(a)(b)

End of interactive chart.

  • Australian-born and overseas-born persons as a proportion of Australia’s total population.
  • Population estimates for 2020 are preliminary – see ERP status in paragraph 9 of the Methodology.

Median age and sex ratio

The median age is useful to assess the changing age structure of a given population over time. It is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.

The median age of the overseas-born population has gradually been decreasing from a decade ago however, at 30 June 2020, a small increase was recorded from the previous year, to 44 years of age. On the other hand, the median age of the Australian-born population has gradually been increasing over time to now be 34 years of age, similar to the previous year. The decrease in the median age of the overseas-born population prior to 30 June 2020 has had a positive effect on the age structure of Australia by slowing the ageing of the total population.

Migrants from countries who were part of the post-second world war migration streams, are now generally older. For example, the Italian-born population has a median age of 72 years whereas, those from more recent groups of migrant arrivals are younger. For example, the Indian-born population has a median age of 35 years, one year older than those born in Australia.

Country of birth(b)

Country of birth(b) Median age(c)
England 58
India 35
China(d) 38
New Zealand 44
Philippines 40
Vietnam 47
South Africa 44
Italy 72
Malaysia 41
Sri Lanka 41
All overseas-born 44
Australian-born 34
  • Population estimates for 2020 are preliminary – see ERP status in paragraph 9 of the Methodology.
  • Top 10 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2020.
  • Median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.
  • Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

When analysing those countries of birth in 2020 within Australia (those with a population of 100 or more), the group with the:

  • oldest median age was from Latvia, at 78 years of age
  • youngest median age was from the Cayman Islands, at 14 years of age
  • highest sex ratio was from Vanuatu, (with 225 males per 100 females)
  • lowest sex ratio was from Turkmenistan, (with 37 males per 100 females).