By the time of the first notable European settlement in 1788, Aboriginal people had developed cultural traits and ecological knowledge that showed an impressive adaptation to Australia´s challenging environments. They also had developed many complex variations between regional and even local communities. The total Aboriginal population at that time was about 300,000. More than 200 distinct languages existed at the beginning of the 19th century. Bilingualism and multilingualism were common characteristics in several hundred Aboriginal groups. These groups—sometimes called tribes—were linguistically defined and territorially based.
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