At Federation Australian society was well-educated and progressive by world standards. The population grew from 3.7 million in 1901 to 5.5 million in 1921. Australia's European population was remarkably homogeneous, with 98 per cent of British birth or descent. Many Australians retained ties, and often strong identification, with their English, Scottish, Welsh, or Irish origins. Aboriginals were not yet counted in the statistics.
Federation was evidence of a developing sense of national identity and confidence in a more independent future. For many people these emotions sat comfortably with imperial sentiment. Greater social divisions were based on racial and religious intolerance. Catholics and Protestants often had different social and political agendas, while Aboriginals were allowed little participation in any of them. Asians were largely excluded by the "White Australia Policy".