Australia's culture is primarily a Western culture, originally derived from Great Britain, but also influenced by the unique geography of Australia and the cultural contribution of Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, and other Australian peoples. New Zealand is the national culture most closely related to Australia. New Zealanders have special rights of entry and there have been large population flows in both directions. Australians and New Zealanders compete vigorously in areas such as sports, but cooperate closely in international relations.
The Aboriginal population was small and persecuted, and the Commonwealth government's exclusivist policy on White Australia helped maintain the continent's surprising cultural homogeneity. For much of the nation's history, it has focused on the assimilation of different cultural groups to the dominant traditions of British Australia; however, in the early 1970s, a more pluralistic policy of multiculturalism took center stage. Australia has an exciting calendar of events and festivals, where both locals and tourists come together to celebrate food, sports, art or culture. Relevant social welfare issues include rising unemployment, an aging population, child care, assistance to people from diverse cultural backgrounds, assistance to people in remote areas, and poverty.
Those industries, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, construction and energy, contributed about 31 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the mid-1990s, while service industries contributed 60 percent. For decades, this culture has influenced everything from Australian music to children's television programs. Another impetus for the formation of a national culture was the myth of the rural Bushman, which developed around the early stages of the historic establishment of the pastoral and agricultural industries. Most states have holidays to commemorate the founding of the first local colony, and there are annual art festivals that attract local, national, and international artists, as well as multicultural festivals.
The relatively sunny climate has facilitated the image of a sporting, outdoor and beach-loving culture represented by images such as that of the tanned Australian surfer. Whether it's for a drink or dinner, celebrating with friends, family and the wider community around a shared table is an integral part of Australian culture. However, in the second half of the 20th century, immigration regulations relaxed and large influxes of immigrants and refugees from East Asia, the Middle East, and several countries in continental Europe arrived in Australia, each of which left an indelible mark on the culture of the continent. Chinese cultural celebrations include the Chinese New Year, the Dragon Ship Festival and the Lantern Festival.
Increasingly, works by Aboriginal authors and others from diverse cultural backgrounds are being published and appreciated. Australia is an incredibly diverse country and home to many different wonderful cultures and communities. Drinking and gambling have long been important aspects of Australian popular culture, despite persistent government attempts to regulate and limit them. The intergenerational reproduction of ethnic minority identities has produced a multicultural, polyethnic and cosmopolitan national culture.