Melbourne: Australia is on the verge of overtaking European-born population for the first time in its history recording a steep rise in its Asia born residents with people of Indian origin figuring at 3,40,000.
   
According to new figures released by the Bureau of Statistics, the number of Asian residents in Australia has virtually doubled in the past decade from 1.03 million in mid-2000 to 2.01 million in mid-2010 with Indian born residents trebling during the similar period.
    
During the period, the Asian origin population has made up a third of Australia's population growth of which around half have come as students and half as skilled workers and family members settling here to fill gaps in the country's workforce.
    
Bureau estimates reveal that in that decade alone, the number of Chinese-born people living in Australia has more than doubled from 148,000 to 380,000 by the middle of last year.
         
The largest number live in Melbourne, where they now outnumber Italians to form the city's largest non-Anglo community.
    
Bureau figures exclude West Asia (from Iran westwards), which the Bureau classifies as part of the Middle East.
    
Migration from that area too has risen sharply, partly due to refugees from the Iraq war.
In 1947, only 0.3 per cent of Australia's population had been born in Asia. But their numbers have roughly doubled with every decade since, rising to 2.5 per cent of the population by 1981, 5.5 per cent by 2000, and 9 per cent by mid-2010.
    
British migrants now make up roughly half that total, numbering just under 1.2 million in mid-2010.
    
Within the two or three years, the number of Asian-Australians is likely to overtake the number of European-Australians.
    
New Zealanders remain the second biggest migrant community and just keep coming.
By mid-2010 there were 544,000 living here and in 2010-11 they have been the main source of migrants.
   
Migrants from China (380,000) and India (340,000) are now the biggest non-Anglo communities by a large margin.
    
Vietnamese (204,000) are closing the gap on Italians (219,000) to be the next largest.
Net migration overall slumped to 215,500 in 2009-10, down from 300,000 a year earlier.
    
The financial crisis cut the need for skilled workers and the closing of immigration loopholes, the rising dollar and violence against Indian students all cut student numbers.

(Agencies)