The aborigines are the native peoples of Australia. Before the British began its colonization of Australia in the late 1700’s, the aboriginal population was estimated at between 300,000 to a million people. Comprised of hundreds of tribes, aborigines lived across the continent in small, local clans. Smallpox, which accompanied the arrival of the British, wiped out a huge percentage of the aboriginal people. The Brits refused to acknowledge aboriginal rights to land or society; since that time the aborigines have struggled for continued survival.