Australians ditch religion at rapid rate, becoming more diverse

Two women enjoy a view of Sydney's Opera house as part of celebrations for Australia Day on January 26, 2011.

Story highlights

  • Nearly a third of people in census chose "no religion"
  • People unaffiliated with a religion expected to shrink as a percent of global population

(CNN)Australia is becoming older and more diverse -- both culturally and religiously -- according to new data from the country's census.

While the first census in 1911 found the average Australian was a 24-year-old man, last year the typical Aussie was a married 38-year-old woman, who lives in a three-bedroom house, with two kids and two cars.
    The census, which is conducted every five years, found that Asians now make up the largest percentage of the overseas-born population, jumping from in 2011 -- 32.9% to 39.7% last year. Europe led that category the last time the survey was taken.
    Fifty years ago, census data showed that more than 88% of the country was Christian. It's now just over 52%. Since the last census in 2011, the country's Muslim and Hindu populations each added more than 100,000 people, but they still only represent 2.6% and 1.9% of the population. There are still more Buddhists than Hindus.
    Australia's entire population grew by nearly two million from the 2011 census, reaching 23.4 million people in 2016.
    "We're multicultural in every part of society. We've known that forever and it just has become more patently obvious in this census," said Gary Bouma, a professor emeritus of sociology at Australia's Monash University. "Very few countries have three substantial religious communities other than a dominant group. We're about the only one."
    That trend was reflected in language as well -- the country gained more than 200,000 Mandarin speakers since the previous survey.
    At home, 8.3% of Australians spoke Mand