Australia Culture

Australia is a multicultural society. Until WWII, Australians were predominantly of Anglo-Celtic descent, but that has changed dramatically. A large number of immigrants from Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Turkey came after the war and these have been supplemented by more recent influxes of immigrants from Asia. There are also about 380,000 Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Consequently, many Australians speak Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Vietnamese or Arabic as their first language. English-speaking Australians are liable to use a hotchpotch of indigenous slang and shortened words that often makes their speech slightly impenetrable.

Australia has a rich artistic heritage and a vibrant contemporary art scene. Aboriginal rock carvings and paintings date back at least 30,000 years. European settlers began to produce distinctively Australian art forms towards the end of the 19th century. Australia's mid-20th century artists were world figures (Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, the writer Patrick White) and its modern practitioners have excelled in painting (Brett Whiteley, Fred Williams), literature (Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally, David Malouf), opera (Joan Sutherland), film (Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, George Miller, Gillian Armstrong), acting (Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman) comedy (Barry Humphries), dance (Graeme Murphy, Paul Mercurio) and popular music (Nick Cave, INXS, AC/DC, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, Yothu Yindi and, yes, Kylie Minogue). Modern Aboriginal art has undergone a revival in the last decade or two as Aboriginal artists have explored ways to both preserve their ancient values and share them with a wider community.

Sport is the Australian religion and Aussies are world beaters in cricket, rugby league, rugby union, swimming and cycling. Other popular sports are basketball, yachting, golf, soccer and Aussie Rules - a unique Australian sport, similar to Gaelic football. The Olympic Games were held in Sydney in 2000.

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