Australia becoming more Asian, census shows

Patriotism as show on Australia Day on January 26, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

Australia's latest census shows that a quarter of the country's population is foreign born, while nearly half of Australians have at least one foreign-born parent.

Meanwhile, Mandarin is now the second most common language spoken at home after English according to the 2011 census, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)on Thursday.

The figures highlight the multi-ethnic character of the nation, whose population has now officially topped 21.5 million, the ABS said on its website.

The biggest increases in foreign born citizenry came from India, China and New Zealand, the figures showed, while significant declines were recorded among the traditionally strong Italian and Greek migrant communities.

The proportion of European migrants overall had fallen from more than half of arrivals a decade ago to 40 percent last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

However, the UK remained the country of origin for the majority of Australia's overseas-born population, at 21 percent.

However, the ABC cited ABS executive director Andrew Henderson as saying, "The leading birthplace for those who arrived since 2006 was India [13.1 percent], closely followed by the United Kingdom [12.1 percent]."

Along with growing immigration from Asia, the resources boom is reshaping Australia, the WSJ interpreted the figures as indicating.

The resource-rich states of Western Australia and Queensland recorded the highest population growth over the past five years — more than double that of Australia's most populous state, New South Wales.

"We're in the midst of a huge mining boom and we have many young people come here to study to go to university," the WSJ quoted Henderson as saying.

"These [factors] are giving us a lot more exposure in Asia."

Also, people professing to have no religion have overtaken Anglicans to become the second-largest grouping after Catholics, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing the figures.

While Christianity remained the dominant religion in Australia, Hinduism was the fastest growing.

The structure of families was also changing, the ABC reported: "The proportion of the population who are married has fallen, while those who have never married or are separated has risen."

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