Australians, often known as "Aussies," are citizens, nationalities, and people who are connected with the country of Australia in some way. This connection may be a geographical one, a legal one, a historical one, or a cultural one. For the vast majority of Australians, many (or all) of these ties exist, and they are collectively responsible for their sense of belonging as Australians. It is not possible to get nationality in Australia because of one's race or ethnicity; citizenship is the only legal status recognised in this country.
While there was considerable immigration from China and Germany throughout the nineteenth century, the overwhelming bulk of settlers and immigrants came from the British Isles (mostly England, Ireland, and Scotland) during the period from 1788 to World War II. Many of the first British towns served as prison colonies for the housing of transported criminals. Following a succession of gold rushes in the 1850s, the number of "free settlers" grew dramatically in the United States. In the decades immediately after World War II, Australia saw a significant influx of immigrants from all across Europe, with a disproportionate number of people coming from Southern and Eastern Europe compared to prior decades.