Also See: Major Cities in Australia
The most recent Australian census was held in 2011 and the results, released in June 2012 confirmed that the population of Australia on census night (9 August 2011) was 21,727,158.
Bear in mind, though, that census results aren't 100% accurate. Sometimes people don't (for a wide variety of reasons) complete the census form. Because of this, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (the organisation which runs the census), also releases estimates of the Australian population.
Their latest formal prediction was that the population on 31 December 2011 was 22,485,300, around 750,000 higher than the census results would indicate. The Australian Bureau of Statistics use this information to produce an Australian Population Clock which at the time of writing this article (12 August 2012) reported that the estimated population of Australia in 2012 was 22,697,961.
2013 Australia Population
Based on this same population clock, we can find out how many people live in Australia. The population as of September 25, 2013 is estimated to be 23,193,673. This represents a growth of nearly 1.5 million since the last census. Australia will hold it's next census in 2016.
This figure means that Australia is the 51st largest country in the world in terms of population, sandwiched between Yemen and Madagascar. It is also the most populous country in Oceania, three times more populous than its neighbour Papua New Guinea (pop 7 million) and 5 times more populous than New Zealand (4.4 million).
Australia Population Density
In terms of surface area, Australia is simply vast; the sixth largest country in the world by area. Therefore, for the same country to be ranked 51nd in terms of population size, it must be very sparsely populated indeed.
As anyone with more than a passing knowledge of Australian geography will understand, much of the country is inhospitable with the Interior, or Outback as it’s more commonly called comprising of vast desert and intense heat. As a result, most of its population is concentrated on or around the more hospitable coastal areas.
Overall, Australia's population density is 2.9 people per square kilometre, making it one of the least densely populated countries in the world - only Mongolia, Western Sahara, Suriname, Mauritania and Botswana have fewer people per square kilometre than Australia. Some parts of Australia are even less densely populated - in the Northern Territory, for example, every square kilometre holds just 0.2 people.
However, if we look at the more densely populated coastal areas, the pattern changes dramatically. The the centres of Sydney and Melbourne, for example, are home to around 8,000 people per sq km and are comparable to major cities around the world.
Largest cities in Australia
There are five Australian cities with a population of more than a million people. Take a look at the tabbed box below for details of each city.
Sydney (4.4 million)
Sydney, home of the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and host to the 2000 Summer Olympics is Australia's largest and most cosmopolitan city. It is also the capital and largest city of New South Wales. The 2011 census revealed it's population to be 4,391,674, an increase of 6.6% in just five years.
Melbourne (4.0 million)
Melbourne, Australia's second city and great rival to Sydney is the capital of Victoria. Situated on the south coast, it was home to 3,999,982 people at the time of the 2011 census. It is growing even more quickly than Sydney and is forecast to become Australia's largest city within 25 years.
Brisbane (2.1 million)
Brisbane, capital of Queensland, had a population of 2,065,996 on the day of the 2011 census. In the five years since the 2006 census, it's population has grown by an impressive 11.5%.
Perth (1.7 million)
Perth, capital of Western Australia, is the fastest growing state capital in Australia. It's population went up from 1,512,105 in 2006 to 1,728,867 in 2011, a staggering growth rate of 14.3% in just five years.
Adelaide (1.2 million)
Adelaide, capital of South Australia is home to 1,225,235 people. It's growth rate of 5.9% would be the envy of many European or North American cities, but among Australia's rapidly growing five major cities, it takes the wooden spoon and is in danger of being left behind.
As well as the five cities listed above, Canberra, the capital of Australia, is the country's eight largest city, home to 358,600 people.
Hobart, the only state or national capital not listed has 211,656 residents, making it Australia's eleventh most populous city.
Population of Australian States and Territories
There are five Australian states, ranging in population from 7.2 million to 0.5 million in population. A brief summary of each state, plus Australia's two largest territories, can be found in the tabbed box below.
New South Wales (7.2 million)
New South Wales is Australia’s largest state, home to an estimated population of 7,247,700 in January 2012. It's capital, and largest city, is Sydney. If New South Wales was a country, it would be Bulgaria.
Victoria (5.6 million)
Victoria, named after the English Queen, is Australia’s second largest state. It’s population in January 2012 was 5,574,500. It’s largest city is Melbourne, Australia’s second city, where three quarters of all Victorians live. If Victoria was a country, it would be Denmark.
Queensland (4.5 million)
Queensland, is Australia's third largest state. It's population in January 2012 was 5,513,000. It's largest city is Brisbane. If Queensland were a country, it would be Georgia.
Western Australia (2.4 million)
Western Australia is home to 2,387,200 people. It's capital city, Perth, is home to more than 1.7 of WA's 2.4 million residents. If Western Australia were a country, it would be Jamaica.
South Australia (1.6 million)
South Australia, in the centre of Australia's south coast, is home to 1,645,000 people. It's largest city is its capital, Adelaide, which is home to all but 400,000 of South Australia's residents. If South Australia were a country, it would be Qatar.
Tasmania (0.5 million)
Tasmania is Australias smallest state, although still more populous than any of its territories. Home to 511,700 people in January 2012, it's largest city is Hobart, population 215,000. If Tasmania were a country, it would be Luxembourg.
Australian Capital Territory (0.37 million)
The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave inside of New South Wales. Home to Australia's capital city Canberra, 370,700 people live in the ACT. If it were a country, it would be the Bahamas.
Northern Territory (0.23 million)
The least densely populated part of Australia, and one of the least densely populated parts of the world, only 232,400 people live in the Northern Territory. It's largest city is Darwin, where more than half of the Territory's residents make their homes. If the Northern Territory were a country, it would be Vanuatu.
The Australian population census of 2006 also showed that of the 19,855,288 declared residents, 37.13% of the population claimed their ancestry to be Australian. Those that claimed to be of English ancestry contributed to 32 per cent of the final statistics.
Since the end of the First World War, immigration has increased significantly in Australia as a whole and it is claimed in some areas that this has been the chief factor in a quadrupling the total population from this point.
As we’ve seen from the figures released by the national bureau of statistics, this is still a factor in a steady increases but with a healthy level of natural growth included, the population of Australia is set to rise by relatively significant levels through 2012 and beyond.