Difference Between Aboriginal and Indigenous

Aboriginal vs Indigenous

Aboriginal and indigenous are adjectives that are used to refer to the native or the first inhabitants of a particular place. The two terms are near synonyms as both refer to the original inhabitants of a particular region or place. There is another term first people that is used to refer to a particular tribe or group of people in a place that has remained largely immune to the modern style of living sticking to its primitive ways of living. Let us find out if aboriginal and indigenous are really synonymous or is there any difference between the two.


Aboriginal is a word that straight away takes our mind to Australia where the original inhabitants of the region are referred as such. The tribes of people who were the first dwellers in a particular place are, therefore, aboriginals. Aboriginals are the people of Australia who have been living there since time immemorial as they are deemed to be the first to have started living in the country.

The word aboriginal seems to be derogatory in connotation as it is used for people who have not assumed or adopted modern ways of living. It could be used to refer to people having an unsophisticated way of living. Aboriginal is also assumed to be a label for dark skinned primitive people of Australia that were there before colonization of the continent by white Europeans.


Indigenous is a word that is used for not only the original inhabitants of a place but also the plant and animal species that are the first dwellers of a place. Internationally, indigenous is a term that is preferred over aboriginal as it is free from all negative connotations. However, Australians continue to use aboriginals simply because indigenous encompasses plant and animal species too.

What is the difference between Aboriginal and Indigenous?

• Aboriginal is a term that is mostly used in association with the first people who lived in and continue to live in Australia.

• Indigenous is a term that is used internationally and is believed to be politically more correct than aboriginals which has negative connotations.

• Indigenous is a term that encompasses not just primitive people but also the plant and animal species that are the native to a particular region.