Their ancestors have inhabited Australia for between 40,000 and 60,000 years, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
In 2006, the Indigenous population was estimated at 517,000 people, or 2.5 per cent of the total population.
Contact between the indigenous Australians and the new settlers ranged from cordiality to violent conflict, but the diseases brought by Europeans were devastating to Aboriginal populations and culture.
According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey, during the colonial period: "Smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another ...
The British Empire expanded across the whole continent and established six colonies.