Historical Background

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The Argentina-born Community

Historical Background

The colonial Census of 1891 recorded 25 Argentinians in Australia. In the ensuing decades there was little migration from Argentina to Australia. In 1947 there were 249 Argentina-born people in Australia and by 1971 the number had increased to 1,805.

During the 1970s, Argentina's economy and standard of living declined markedly compounded by political turmoil and the violation of human rights. Many Argentinians left the country seeking improved economic and living conditions. During this period most Argentinians arrived under Australia’s assisted migration program.

Most Argentinians came from urban areas in Argentina and mainly settled in Australia’s urban centres of Sydney and Melbourne. By 1986 the number of Argentina-born in Australia rose to 9,176.

The Argentinians in Australia are not ethnically homogenous and are of diverse ancestry. The majority are of Spanish and Italian ethnicity while others have Polish, German, French, Russian and British backgrounds.


Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2011 recorded 11,985 Argentina-born people in Australia, an increase of 5.4 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 5,737 followed by Victoria (3,640), Queensland (1,223) and Western Australia (620).

Age and Sex

The median age of the Argentina-born in 2011 was 47 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population. The age distribution showed 3 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 3.9 per cent were 15-24 years, 38.7 per cent were 25-44 years, 37.3 per cent were 45-64 years and 17 per cent were 65 years and over.

Of the Argentina-born in Australia, there were 5740 males (47.9 per cent) and 6247 females (52.1 per cent). The sex ratio was 91.9 males per 100 females.


In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that Argentina-born people reported were Argentinian (4,593), Italian (3,548) and Spanish (3,148). In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 9,879 responses were towards Argentinian ancestry.

*At the 2011 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.


The main languages spoken at home by Argentina-born people in Australia were Spanish (8,882), English (2,272) and Italian (516). Of the 9,717 Argentina-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 89.6 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 9.4 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.


At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Argentina-born were Catholic (7,492) and Christian, nfd (390). Of the Argentina-born, 16.3 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was lower than the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 3.1 per cent did not state a religion.


Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 78.8 per cent of the Argentina-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001.

Among the total Argentina-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 10.5 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 8.1 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.

Median Income

At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Argentina-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $617, compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.


At the 2011 Census, 63.8 per cent of the Argentina-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population. Of the Argentina-born aged 15 years and over, 3.5 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.


Among Argentina-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 68.7 per cent and the unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Of the 7,408 Argentina-born who were employed, 52.4 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation. The corresponding rate in the total Australian population was 48.4 per cent.

Produced by the Community Relations Section of DIAC. All data used in this summary is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. Sources for the Historical Background are available on our website.
© Commonwealth of Australia.

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