POPULATION22,015,576 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$40,800 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSProtestant 27.4% (Anglican 18.7%, Uniting Church 5.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 3%), Catholic 25.8%, Eastern Orthodox 2.7%, other Christian 7.9%, Buddhist 2.1%, Muslim 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 11.3%, none 18.7% (2006 Census)
ALSO IN SOUTHEAST ASIAIndonesia
AT THE CENTER
While Australia has a secular government and an increasingly non-religious society, the country remains predominantly Christian and, at times, protective of its European identity. The British establishment of penal colonies in the late 18th century brought Christianity to Australia and led to the decline of Aboriginal religion and culture. Most convicts and free settlers were either Anglican or Catholic, setting the stage for a long-lasting sectarian antagonism. The White Australia policy placed stringent restrictions on non-white immigration to the country from the 1850s until 1973. Since the lifting of this policy, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim populations have grown notably, but events like the 2005 Cronulla race riots have demonstrated resistance to this trend. The Australian Constitution bars the federal government, but not the constituent states, from establishing a religion, imposing any religious practice, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. State governments are not bound by these proscriptions but abide by them in practice.