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Finns in Australia and the region - Embassy of Finland, Canberra : Finland in the region : Finnish immigrants


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Finns in Australia and the region

The first Finn ever to visit Australia or New Zealand was Herman Dietrich Spöring (born in Turku), who was a draughtsman and a scientist in James Cook's fleet when she arrived in Australia 1770. Spöring's drawings from the voyage are held in the British Museum, London. In Australia's capital, Canberra, there is a street named after this adventurous Finn.

First permanent Finnish immigrants came to work in the gold mines of Victoria in the 1850's. A more massive immigration wave occurred in the 1920's. Australia was to become the second important Finnish immigrant destination, besides Canada. The Finns, used to heavy physical work, were particularly lured by the incomes from sugar cane fields and mining in Mount Isa, North Queensland.

Numbers of the Finnish immigrants began to grow significantly from 1955 onwards. Immigration to Australia was made easier by travel allowances given by the government of Australia. By the end of the 1950's approximately 5000 Finns had moved to Australia. The next wave of immigration was in the late 1960's, when Australian government began to promote immigration by extra benefits. In 1967–1972 nearly 7000 Finns moved "Down Under".

After the 2nd World War 20 000 Finns had moved to Australia. In the last three decades Finnish immigration has decreased significantly. Today there are ca. 30 000 people, with Finnish roots, living in Australia. Approximately 4000 of them have maintained their Finnish citizenship. "The Finnish centres" are Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. The Finns are known for their active societies. Finnish societies are coordinated by the Australasian Federation of Finnish Societies.


Koivukangas, Olavi: Kaukomaiden kaipuu. Suomalaiset Afrikassa, Australiassa, Uudessa-Seelanissa ja Latinalaisessa Amerikassa. Siirtolaisuusinstituutti Turku. 1998.

Koivukangas, Olavi: The Finns, in book: The Australian People. An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins. Edited by James Jupp. Cambridge University Press 2001.

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Updated 7/30/2010

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