Why isn't Australia an Asian country

Cultural characteristics in Australia

Australians either spend most of their time on the beach or roam the Australian bush crocodile-dundee-style? This is of course just as incorrect as the stereotypical image of the eternally beer-loving, sauerkraut-eating Germans dancing the Schuhplattler with a cuckoo clock in their living room. And yet they belong Beach and the Outback one of the first things that come to mind when we think of Australia and which we consider typical for Down under feel. In addition, there are of course a lot more cultural peculiarities in Australia, many of which are due to the history of the country.

Origins of Australian Culture

Australia was in the 18th century Colonized by the British Crown. That legacy continues today formative for life in Australia. English is, so to speak, the national language, even if there is no legally defined official language. As in Great Britain, there is left-hand traffic in Australia. As a former British colony, Australia is now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who in Australia is not the British Queen, but Queen of Australia referred to as. This is to emphasize today's independence of Australia from Great Britain. The Australian flag, in which the British is integrated, also testifies to the country's history as a British colony. Until 1984 the British national anthem was - with a brief interruption in the years 1974-1976 - also the anthem of Australia. The colonization of Australia took place thousands of years before the arrival of the British.

Already Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders have lived in the country for tens of thousands of yearsthat we call Australia today. After the captain James Cook claimed the land for the British in 1770, they used it from 1788 as a Convict Colony. In addition, from the end of the 18th century, too free settlers settled in Australia. In the course of the Victorian gold rush in the middle of the 19th century, there was a large wave of immigration to Australia. Many immigrants came from Great Britain, but also people who immigrated from other European countries and the USA. A lot of Chinese came to the country, but most of them left Australia. After the Second World War, many people immigrated from Europe and the Middle East. In the past few decades, many immigrants from Asia have also come to Australia. So the Australian society today is multicultural. The population of Australia consists of immigrants from different parts of the world and indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and the Torres Strait islanders. The proportion of Australians of indigenous descent in the total population is only around 2.5 percent.

With the didgeridoo and the boomerang, two typical elements of Aboriginal culture are used today as a distinguishing feature of Australia. In the course of colonization in the 18th century However, the indigenous culture in Australia was strongly pushed back. The Aborigines struggled with oppression well into the 20th century.

Features of Australian culture

Like any culture, the Australian has particular features on, by which it differs from other cultures or in which it resembles other cultures. Cultural peculiarities can be expressed, for example, in the way people treat one another or in the relationship between the individual and society. Large cultural differences that visitors to foreign countries notice can even result in a so-called culture shock. Although the cultural distance between Germany and Australia is significantly smaller than between many other countries, the culture of Australia has characteristics that may seem strange to us at first. We are familiar with other aspects.

In the following we want to give an overview of the different characteristics of the Australian culture and specific cultural characteristics in Australia.


The lecturers Address by first name and have a casual discussion in the lectures? This is common practice at Australian universities. It works at university and in other areas of life in Australia rather informal to. However, the informal form of address should always start from the older person, as is customary in Germany.

The casual interaction with one another, even beyond the private sphere, is related to the so-called Power distance in Australia small is. Pronounced hierarchical structures are not considered desirable in Australia. This can also be seen, for example, in everyday interpersonal contact, for example in the previously mentioned address by first name. Many Australians also like to refer to their counterpart as Mate, so buddy. Knowing each other well is not a prerequisite for such an address. Another example is probably that anti-authoritarian touch of Australian humorwhich has its roots in colonial times. Many a lawbreaker was able to pull himself out of the affair with humor.

Adorning oneself with status symbols or insisting on titles is not common in Australia and usually provokes rejection. Australians are more likely to downplay their own successes - after all, they want to get along well with everyone.


One of the cultural specialties in Australia is that Concept of Mateship. Historically, it has its origins in the colonial era and it is still important today for coexistence in Australia. At that time, people in the country's inhospitable environment were dependent on each other's support to ensure their survival. Mateship therefore not only stands for Friendship, for .... As well Loyalty and equalitywhich in turn can be used to explain the flat hierarchies in Australia. This could also explain the typical willingness to help. The importance of the Mateship for the Australians, the move to include the term in the preamble of the Australian constitution shows. However, this was rejected. The concept has also already been considered as part of a naturalization test.

Individualism and freedom

Despite the comradely ideal, Australian society, like German society, is one individualistic society. In other words, everyone is initially responsible for themselves and their families. Independent work is also welcomed in professional life.

Theirs is also typical of society in Australia Indulgence. That is, the moral concepts are much less strict than in other countries, so the people develop freely can. Enjoy life and have fun, according to the motto No worries, is important in Australia. Leisure time is therefore very important. In Australia this is often spent on the beach. Go with the lifestyle in Australia one positive outlook on life and optimism hand in hand. Because the "typical" German seems inclined to a strict work ethic and pessimism, the relaxed way of life of the Australians is a pleasant change for many.

The looseness of the Australians by no means means a lack of performance orientation. Australia has something called a masculine society. In such a society, successes, for example in school, university and at work, play an important role and fill you with pride. However, as already mentioned, it is not customary to show off successes and to put yourself above others on the basis of these successes.

Australian way of dealing with time

This is a bit contrary to the typical Australian casualness Australians punctuality. In Australia - as is well known in Germany - this is a valuable asset. Being significantly late is generally considered impolite in Australia too.

As so-called normative culture Australians are not very open to social change. They stick to their traditions and are more past and present than future oriented. This manifests itself, for example, in the fact that less is saved and quick results are expected in work processes. This differs from the German, a so-called pragmatic, culture. Here one thinks more forward-looking and is patient and persistent when it comes to achieving goals. Saving is almost a national sport here. In addition, traditions in Germany are sometimes adapted to new circumstances.

Connection to the beach and the hinterland

Most Australians live near the coast, many even close enough to the beach to be able to spend time there regularly. The only public beaches in Australia are a popular place for leisure activities. This of course also includes that surfing, the quasi an Australian national sport is. The most famous beach in Australia is Bondi Beach in Sydney. Visitors from all over the world spend a different Christmas here every year. The beaches of Australia not only offer leisure activities, but also jobs, for example in the tourism or fishing industries. The beach is also a recurring theme in Australian art and literature.

The beach is just as important to Australia's national identity as it is the Australian Bush. The Australians use this term for all sparsely populated regions as well as for regions outside of the Australian cities. The term Outback rather refers to the dry areas inland. The Bush was very different from what the mostly British immigrants knew from their homeland. Therefore he was considered to be typically Australian. Australian poets derived national ideals from this, which in turn contributed to the development of an Australian identity of their own.

Enthusiasm for sports

As in so many other countries in the world, many people in Australia are enthusiastic about sports. Even if soccer, arguably the favorite sport of Germans, is now very popular in Australia, there are other sports that Australians are particularly enthusiastic about. Two of them are Cricket and rugbyin several countries of the Commonwealth of Nations are very popular. This again becomes the Influence of British culture on the former colony of Australia clear. But also one real australian sport has become in Down under developed and is therefore a great cultural peculiarity of Australia. This sport is called Australian football or Australian Rules Football and is only practiced professionally in Australia. However, there are also amateur teams in other countries. A well-known sporting event in Australia is the Melbourne Cup, a well-known horse race. Sport is a popular topic of conversation in Australia.

Behavioral tips for Australia

Even in a culture like Australian, which doesn't seem so dissimilar to ours compared to, for example, Asian cultures, there is for visitors some pitfalls. If you don't know what behavior is expected, you may not even notice why the person is reacting so strangely to you. That's why some come here Behavioral tips that should help avoid pitfalls.

Australians are known for their open-mindedness and friendliness. That is why visitors should yourself in Australia as well behave in a friendly and open manner. The friendliness and verbal friendliness as well as the salutation “Mate” should not be confused with a quick friendship. Just like in Germany, it usually takes time in Australia for friendships to develop.

Helpfulness and humor are considered typical for Australians and are also welcome. Completely different, by the way, than directly put forward criticism, to which many Germans tend without meaning it badly. In Australia, however, they are uncomfortably noticeable. It is part of good form to put forward something Criticism as nice as possible to pack.

Just like in the USA, in Australia the question “How are you?” Is usually nothing more than a greeting. Nobody should pour out their hearts afterwards. The commonly expected answer is, "Fine, thanks." Anyway Problems are not a popular topic for small talk. Incidentally, this also applies to the fact that Australia emerged from a convict colony, as well as the situation of the Aborigines associated with colonization. This should be better than in Australia anyway Indigenous Australians or Aboriginal people describe. The term "Aboriginal", used naturally in Germany, has a derogatory meaning in Australia. Respect is shown to the Aborigines by visiting their spiritually significant places, such as the Uluru, better known as Ayers Rock, does not enter illegally.

When going out to a pub, it is often common to have laps. This means that everyone within a group should serve a drink once. Anyone waiting to be admitted, for example to clubs, or to be served at service counters, should be in Australia patiently stand in line. Pushing forward doesn't go down well at all. Barbecue guests, colloquially too Barbie usually bring drinks and sometimes grilled meat or other food. When inviting guests to dinner, it is common to give wine or chocolate as a gift. It is considered polite to ask the hosts if you should contribute your own food and to help with clearing.

With gestures that have positive connotations in this country, foreigners in Australia can also quickly offend. Hand signs like “thumbs up” or “peace” or “victory” do not have the same meaning in Australia and some other countries as in Germany. Instead, they are an insult. The cultural differences between Australia and Germany manifest themselves so also in hand signals.

The dos and don'ts in Australia at a glance

Friendliness and open-mindednessWhen asked "How are you?", Report on your own problems
humorPolitical discussions about Aborigines
LoosenessTalks on the history of Australia as a British penal colony
Use first namesHand signals that are offensive in Australia
Treat yourself to a round when going out with othersJostling in queues
Package criticism nicelyEnter spiritually significant Aboriginal places without permission
Bring drinks and sometimes also groceries with invitations to the barbecue
Make a gift for dinner invitations