Torres Strait Islands, island group in the Researcher’s Note: Britannica usage standards: Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia) are typically divided into five groups: Top Western, Western, Lower Western, Central, and Eastern. The people of the Eastern Islands speak the Meriam Mir language, and those of the Western Islands and Central Islands speak Kala Lagaw Ya or Kala Kawa Ya, which are of the same language., north of , , , and south of the island of . The group dozens of islands scattered over some 18,500 square miles (48,000 square km) of water and organized into four geomorphological clusters: Top Western (low and , near New Guinea); Western (high, rocky, and barren, the largest being ); Central ( ); and Eastern ( , with dense vegetation). Generally rich in offshore coral growth and marine fauna, the islands may be remnants of a that once linked and . They have been inhabited for at least 2,500 years. The present-day inhabitants are primarily of origin, with some mixture of and . Culturally, the (see
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./Kenny Chmielewski
Learn about the Mabo Day commemorating the historic court’s decision recognizing Aboriginal land rights
© Behind the News (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article
Although the Spanish navigatorsailed through the islands in 1606, they did not become well known until the late 18th century, when fishermen came to hunt for mother-of-pearl shell and bêche-de-mer ( ). The islands were annexed by Queensland in 1879. At that time, the inhabitants were deprived of their landowning rights. They gained Australian citizenship in 1967. Efforts by islanders to regain their land rights resulted in a lawsuit (popularly called the , for , the first-named plaintiff) brought by several individuals that was won in the High Court of Australia in 1992; subsequent cases were also settled in favour of other groups of islanders. In 1994 the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) was established in response to the push for growing local .
Islands and Archipelagos
What are the islands of the Maldives made of? What is the world’s largest archipelago? Sort out the facts about islands across the globe.
Each island cluster has its own local government and sends representatives to a central council of the TSRA on. Pearl shelling, pearl , , and tourism are the main sources of income. With the decline in demand for pearl shell, some of the population has moved to mainland Australia. Pop. (2006) 8,576; (2011) , 4,248.
John Burton Fellow
How to do Australia's Torres Strait Islands
Located on Queensland’s northernmost tip, Torres Strait is well worth a trip with its 274 islands. It’s so much more than sparkling clear waters and gently swaying palm trees. It’s where two of Earth’s oldest cultures meet.
Experience traditional culture on Prince of Wales Island with the Island Stars dance troupe. Explore Thursday Island and Prince of Wales Island on an ecotour with Torres Strait Eco Adventures. Checkin at the Grand Hotel on Thursday Island or try glamping on a private island, Roko Island. Take in the views on a scenic flight with Nautilus Aviation and learn about Horn Island’s role in WW2 with Torres Strait Heritage. Make sure you end your holiday at Gab Titui Cultural Centre, where you can view and buy local art, learn about traditional weaving or participate in a cooking class.
Find out more: https://www.queensland.com/au/en/placestosee/destinations/cairnsandgreatbarrierreef/torresstrait?utm_source=youtube\u0026utm_medium=social\u0026utm_campaign=qld_youtube