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FACT SHEET : Australian Muslims

Total number of Muslims in Australia: 281 578

Proportion of the Australian population who are Muslim: 1.5%

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2001 Census.

1. Birthplace

The major countries of birth of Australian Muslims are:

    1. Australia: 36%
    2. Lebanon: 10%
    3. Turkey: 8%
    4. Afghanistan: 3.5%
    5. Bosnia-Herzegovina: 3.5%
    6. Pakistan: 3.2%
    7. Indonesia: 2.9%
    8. Iraq: 2.8%
    9. Bangladesh: 2.7%
    10. Iran: 2.3%
    11. Fiji: 2.0%

Source: ABS, 2001 Census, Unpublished data.

2. Ancestry

  • Around 30% of Australian-born Muslims claim Lebanese ancestry.
  • Around 18% claim Turkish ancestry.

Australian Muslims are not all Arabs

Australian Muslims are a diverse group. While the largest proportion are Australian-born, a further:

  • 28% of Australian Muslims were born in the Middle East or North Africa.
  • 16% were born in Asia.
  • 9% were born in Europe.
  • 4% were born in Africa (excluding North Africa).
  • 3% were born in Oceania (excluding Australia);

Australian Arabs are not all Muslim

A large proportion of Australians born in predominantly Muslim countries are not Muslim themselves.

Table 1: Proportion of select ethnic communities in Australia who are Muslim, 2001
Country of birth
No. born overseas
No. who are Muslim
Proportion who are Muslim
Lebanon 71 349 29 321 41%
Turkey 29 821 23 479 79%
Afghanistan 11 296 9 923 88%
Bosnia-Herzegovina 23 848 9 892 42%
Pakistan 11 875 9 238 78%
Indonesia 47 158 8 087 17%
Iraq 24 832 7 749 31%
Bangladesh 9 077 7 596 84%
Iran 18 789 6 353 34%
Fiji 44 261 5 772 13%

Source: ABS, 2001 Census, Unpublished data.

3. Distribution

Figure 1: Australian Muslim population by state and territory

 865

Source: ABS, 2001 Census. Click here for text only version.

Table 2: Geographic Distribution of Muslims in Australia, 2001
State/territory
Proportion of all Australian Muslims
Proportion of total state or territory population
New South Wales 50% 2.2%
Victoria 33% 2.0%
Western Australia 7% 1.1%
Queensland 5% 0.4%
South Australia 3% 0.5%
Australian Capital Territory 1% 1.1%
Northern Territory 0.3% 0.5%
Tasmania 0.3% 0.2%
Total 100% 1.5%

Source: ABS, 2001 Census.

4. Age and Sex

Of all Australian Muslims, 148 442 (53%) were male and 133 132 (47%) were female (compared with 49% male and 51% female for the Australian population as a whole). Compared with non-Muslim Australians, Australian Muslims have a higher proportion of young people and proportionately fewer people between the working ages of 25-64 or aged 65 and over.

Table 3: Australian Muslims and Non-Muslim Australians by age group, %, 2001
  Age 0-4 5-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Australian Muslims 10.6% 20.2% 18.7% 18.2% 15.3% 9.5% 4.8% 2.8%
Non-Muslim Australians 6.6% 14.2% 13.7% 14.5% 15.3% 13.7% 9.4% 12.6%

Source: ABS, 2001 Census, Unpublished data.


Developed by the Race Discrimination Unit, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, March 2003.

ABS data used with permission from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.