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Non-English languages across Australia

Below is a Google Maps widget representing the most commonly spoken language other than English in each "suburb" of Australia. You may need to wait a few seconds before the colours are displayed. Click on any "suburb" to bring up its name, population, the language most commonly spoken at home (excluding English), and the percentage of people in that suburb who speak that language at home. Numbers are derived from the 2011 Census using TableBuilder.

Italian
German
Greek
Mandarin
Dutch
Afrikaans
Arabic
Vietnamese
Spanish
French
Tagalog
Cantonese
Filipino
Japanese
Maltese
Samoan
Croatian
Polish
Macedonian
Hindi
Thai
Punjabi
Russian

I've put "suburb" in scare quotes because while they approximately match suburbs in cities, in rural areas they can be quite large, perhaps loosely centred on a town. The legend at right shows the most commonly seen languages in the map, which together account for just over 80% of all the suburbs (at least those that aren't blank). But there are about 200 different languages represented in the map, so there's plenty else to discover whilst zooming and scrolling around. I chose the colours by random-number generation.

The opacity of the shading is related to the percentage of people in the suburb who speak the language in question, with solid colour being used for anything over 20%. That's usually a decent scale for the cities and many regional areas, but there are plenty of Indigenous communities where a traditional language or Kriol is spoken by over half the population. By contrast, there are some suburbs where the most common non-English language might only be spoken by one migrant family, for example if the population is 300 and it says "German, 1.3%".

I haven't displayed suburb boundaries, because I think they make the cities look terrible when zoomed out. Unfortunately that can make the suburb boundaries difficult to discern, but they're often just visible as slivers between the polygons when you zoom in.

I used the SSC_AUST_2011 shapefile available from the ABS on this page, simplifying the geometries in QGIS to reduce the file size. I have no idea why a large chunk of rural South Australia is missing.

The map on this page only shows the most commonly spoken language other than English in each suburb. For more detailed breakdowns represented graphically, I suggest the ABC's ConCensus.

Posted 2014-05-21.


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