|Population||16,230 (2007) |
|• Density||0.1673/km2 (0.4334/sq mi)|
|Area||97,000 km2 (37,451.9 sq mi)|
|Territory electorate(s)||Arafura, Mulka, Arnhem|
Arnhem Land is a historical region of the Northern Territory of Australia, with the term still in use. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km (310 mi) from the territory capital, Darwin. In 1623, Dutch East India Company captain Willem Joosten van Colster (or Coolsteerdt) sailed into the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Arnhem is named after his ship, the Arnhem, which itself was named after the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands.
The area covers about 97,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 16,000, of whom 12,000 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Two regions are often distinguished as East Arnhem (Land) and West Arnhem (Land), and North-east Arnhem Land is known to the local Yolŋu people as Miwatj. The region's service hub is Nhulunbuy, 600 km (370 mi) east of Darwin, set up in the early 1970s as a mining town for bauxite. Other major population centres are Yirrkala (just outside Nhulunbuy), Gunbalanya (formerly Oenpelli), Ramingining, and Maningrida.
A substantial proportion of the population, which is mostly Aboriginal, lives on small outstations or homelands. This outstation movement started in the early 1980s. Many Aboriginal groups moved to usually very small settlements on their traditional lands, often to escape the problems of the larger towns. These population groups have very little Western cultural influence, and Arnhem Land is arguably one of the last areas in Australia that could be seen as a completely separate country. Many of the region's leaders have called and continue to call for a treaty that would allow the Yolŋu to operate under their own traditional laws.
In 2013–14, the entire region contributed around A$1.3 billion or 7 percent to the Northern Territory's gross state product, mainly through bauxite mining.
In 2019, it was announced that NASA had chosen Arnhem Land as the location for a space launch facility, the Arnhem Space Centre. On 27 June 2022, NASA launched the first rocket there, the first rocket launch from a commercial spaceport outside the US, and two further launches followed within weeks.
Arnhem Land has been occupied by Aboriginal peoples for tens of thousands of years and is the location of the oldest-known stone axe, which scholars believe to be 35,500 years old. 
Rock art depicting what may be acts of violence between hunter-gatherers in Arnhem land has been tentatively dated to 10,000 years ago. 
At least since the 18th century (and probably earlier) Muslim traders from Makassar of Sulawesi visited Arnhem Land each year to trade, harvest, and process sea cucumbers or trepang. This marine animal is highly prized in Chinese cuisine, for folk medicine, and as an aphrodisiac.
This Makassan contact with Australia is the first recorded example of interaction between the inhabitants of the Australian continent and their Asian neighbours. 
This contact had a major effect on local Aboriginal Australians. The Makassans exchanged goods such as cloth, tobacco, knives, rice, and alcohol for the right to trepang coastal waters and employ local labour. Makassar pidgin became a lingua franca along the north coast among several indigenous Australian groups who were brought into greater contact with each other by the seafaring Makassan culture. 
These traders from the southwest corner of Sulawesi also introduced the word balanda for white people, long before western explorers set foot on the coasts of northern Australia. In Arnhem Land, the word is still widely used today to refer to white Australians. The Dutch started settling in Sulawesi Island in the early 17th century.
Archaeological remains of Makassar contact, including trepang processing plants (drying, smoking) from the 18th and 19th centuries, are still found at Australian locations such as Port Essington and Groote Eylandt. The Makassans also planted tamarind trees (native to Madagascar and East Africa).  After processing, the sea cucumbers were traded by the Makassans to Southern China.
In 2014, an 18th-century Chinese coin was found in the remote area of Wessel Islands off the coast on a beach on Elcho Island during a historical expedition. The coin was found near previously known Makassan trepanger fishing sites where several other Dutch coins have been discovered nearby, but never a Chinese coin. The coin was probably made in Beijing around 1735. 
In 1884, 10,000 square miles of Arnhem Land was sold by the colonial British government to cattle grazier, John Arthur Macartney. The property was called Florida Station and Macartney stocked it with cattle overlanded from Queensland. Monsoonal flooding, disease and strong resistance from the local Aboriginal population resulted in Florida Station being abandoned by Macartney in 1893. The first manager of the property, Jim Randell, bolted a swivel cannon to the verandah of the homestead to keep the Indigenous people away, while Jack Watson, the last manager of the property, reportedly "wiped out a lot" of "the blacks" living on the coast at Blue Mud Bay.    During the period of Watson's management, another large massacre is recorded to have happened at Mirki on the north coast of Florida Station. The Yolngu people today remember this massacre where many people including children were shot dead.  
From 1903 to 1908, the property rights of much of Arnhem Land were held by the Eastern and African Cold Storage Supply Company. This Anglo-Australian consortium leased the region under the name of Arafura cattle station and attempted to construct a massive cattle raising and meat production industry. The company employed roving gangs of armed men to shoot the resident Aboriginal population. 
In 1971, the Gove land rights case (Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd) was the first litigation on native title in Australia, and the first significant legal case for Aboriginal land rights in Australia. 
The area is from Port Roper on the Gulf of Carpentaria around the coast to the East Alligator River, where it adjoins Kakadu National Park. The major centres are Jabiru on the Kakadu National Park border, Maningrida at the Liverpool River mouth, and Nhulunbuy (also known as Gove) in the far north-east, on the Gove Peninsula. Gove is the site of large-scale bauxite mining with an associated alumina refinery. Its administrative centre is the town of Nhulunbuy, the fourth-largest population centre in the Northern Territory.
The climate of Arnhem Land is tropical monsoon with a wet and dry season. The temperature has little seasonal variation; however, it can range from overnight lows of 15 °C (59 °F) in the dry season (April to September) to daily highs of 33 °C (91 °F) in the wet season (October to March).
In 1931, an area of 96,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi) was proclaimed as an Aboriginal reserve, named Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve. As of 2007 [update] the Land Trust held about 100,000 km2 (39,000 sq mi) as Aboriginal freehold land (with the exception of mining leases);  it remains one of the largest parcels of Aboriginal-owned land in Australia and is perhaps best known for its isolation, the art of its people, and the strong continuing traditions of its Aboriginal inhabitants.[ citation needed ]
Arnhem Land is composed of many different Aboriginal countries and language groups. North-east Arnhem Land is home to the Yolngu people, one of the largest Indigenous groups in Australia, who have succeeded in maintaining a vigorous traditional culture, and whose name for this area is Miwatj.  In West Arnhem Land, large groups include the Bininj people and the Maung people of the Goulburn Islands.[ citation needed ]
In 2013–14, the entire region contributed around A$1.3 billion or 7% to the Northern Territory's gross state product, mainly through bauxite mining. 
In 2019, it was announced that NASA had chosen Arnhem Land as the location for a space launch facility.  The Arnhem Space Centre was built near Nhulunbuy, employing mostly local labour, and on 27 June 2022, NASA launched the first rocket there, which was the first rocket launch from a commercial spaceport outside the US.  Two further launches followed, the third on July 11. Other space companies are interested in using the rocket launch pad, and NASA confirmed that it will use the facility again in the future. 
The 2006 film Ten Canoes captures life in Arnhem Land through a story tapping into the Aboriginal mythic past; it was co-directed by one of the indigenous cast members. The film and the documentary about the making of the film, The Balanda and the Bark Canoes, give a remarkable testimony to the indigenous struggle to keep their culture alive – or rather revive it in the wake of considerable relative modernisation and influence of white (balanda) cultural imposition.  
High Ground (2020 film) , a 2020 feature film directed by Stephen Maxwell Johnson, based on historical fact and reflecting the history and culture of Yolngu people, was filmed in Arnhem land.  
The Aboriginal community of Yirrkala, just outside Nhulunbuy, is internationally known for bark paintings, promoting the rights of Indigenous Australians, and as the origin of the yidaki , or didgeridoo. The community of Gunbalanya (previously known as Oenpelli) in Western Arnhem Land is also notable for bark painting. The indigenous inhabitants also create temporary sand sculptures as part of their sacred rituals.
Arnhem Land is also notable for Aboriginal rock art, some examples of which can be found at Ubirr Rock, Injalak Hill, and in the Canon Hill area. Some of these record the early years of European explorers and settlers, sometimes in such detail that Martini–Henry rifles can be identified. They also depict axes, and detailed paintings of aircraft and ships. One remote shelter, several hundred kilometres from Darwin, has a painting of the wharf at Darwin, including building and boats, and Europeans with hats and pipes, some apparently without hands (which they have in their trouser pockets). Near the East Alligator River crossing, a figure was painted of a man carrying a gun and wearing his hair in long pigtails down his back, characteristic of the Chinese labourers brought to Darwin in the late 19th century.
One Yolngu prehistoric stone arrangement at Maccasans Beach near Yirrkala shows the layout of the Makassan praus used for trepang (sea cucumber) fishing in the area. This was a legacy of Yolngu trade links with the people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The trading relationship antedated European settlement by some 200 years.
Aboriginal artists in Arnhem Land are primarily represented by Aboriginal Art Centres, nonprofit, community-owned organisations.  In East Arnhem Land, primarily Yolngu Matha-speaking artists are promoted by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka in Yirrkala, Bula'bula Arts in Ramingining, Elcho Island Arts and Crafts on Elcho Island, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts in Gapuwiyak and Milingimbi Art and Culture on Milingimbi Island. In Central Arnhem Land, Maningrida Arts & Culture in Maningrida promotes the work of a diverse range of Kuninjku, Burarra, and Gurrgoni artists, amongst others. In West Arnhem Land, Injalak Arts in Gunbalanya represents mainly Kunwinjku artists. Ngukurr Arts is located on the Roper River in Southern Arnhem Land. Art is also produced on the many islands of Arnhem Land, and there are art centres on the Anindilyakwa speaking Groote Eylandt (Anindilyakwa Art) and the Maung speaking Goulburn Islands (Mardbalk Arts & Crafts).
Arnhem Land is also known for embracing the homeland movement, sometimes referred to as the outstation movement. For many decades prior to 1970, the East Arnhem Land Yolngu people lived on mission stations, such as Yirrkala. From April 1972, Yolngu families began moving away, back to their traditional clan lands. This was instigated by Yolngu people, before there was government support for the outstation movement. The people cleared land for airstrips and built their own houses from local timber, with the help of non-Indigenous people from the mission. The elders of the clans aimed to determine their own futures, basing their societies on Yolngu law, while living and raising their children on their lands in a sustainable and self-sufficient way. In 1985, Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC), an Aboriginal corporation, was established to assist the homelands. 
Homelands are tiny communities where members of related clan groups live on their traditional land, living according to Yolngu rom (law). There are benefits to the people to be living in these homelands, including: 
- Homelands people have a strong connection to their land, and maintain their traditional language and cultural values. They choose to live on their traditional land to maintain this strong spiritual connection, social wellbeing, and to provide a positive future for their children and their families by staying away from widespread problems in large communities.
- By living on their traditional land, homelands people retain a degree of autonomy. They are empowered to manage their own land, resources and affairs.
- They have the power to make decisions affecting their lives, and reduce their dependence on government.
Homelands also reduce pressure on other Indigenous communities, which are already suffering from problems in the housing, health and education services areas. 
In the early 21st century, a focus governments about the "viability" of the homelands has caused tensions and uncertainty within the Arnhem Land community. 
In September 2008, then Darwin correspondent for The Age , Lindsay Murdoch, wrote: "Elders tell of their fears that Yolngu culture and society will not survive if clans cannot continue to live on and access their land through homelands. They warn that if services are cut, many of the 800 people in the Laynhapuy homelands will be forced to move to towns such as Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula, creating new law and order problems, while those who stay will be severely disadvantaged." 
In response to changes made by the Northern Territory government surrounding reduced support for the homelands in 2009, the Indigenous leader Patrick Dodson criticised the Northern Territory Government's controversial new policy on remote Aboriginal communities, describing it as a "die on the vine" plan that will "slowly but surely" kill indigenous culture. 
Born in the 1930s, Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO is a leader of the Dhalwangu clan, renowned for his artwork and knowledge of traditional culture and law. In May 2009, he had the following to say about the significance of the homelands to his people: 
- "We want to stay on our own land. We have our culture, we have our law, we have our land rights, we have our painting and carving, we have our stories from our old people, not only my people, but everyone, all Dhuwa and Yirritja, we are not making this up.
- I want you to listen to me Government.
- I know you have got the money to help our Homelands. But you also know there is money to be made from Aboriginal land.
- You should trust me, and you should help us to live here, on our land, for my people.
- I am talking for all Yolŋu now.
- So if you can't trust me Government, if you can't help me Government, come and shoot me, because I will die here before I let this happen."
Despite facing government concerns and policy confusion, a number of people have developed commercial enterprises that have centred on using the best elements of their homelands. Indigenous tourism ventures incorporating the controlled use of homelands are now showing signs of success for a select number of Yolngu. 
Mandawuy Djarrtjuntjun Yunupingu, formerly Tom Djambayang Bakamana Yunupingu; skin name Gudjuk; also known as Dr Yunupingu was an Australian musician and educator.
Galarrwuy Yunupingu, also known as James Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Dr Yunupingu, is a leader in the Aboriginal Australian community, and has been involved in the fight for Indigenous land rights in Australia throughout his career. He is a Yolngu man of the Gumatj clan, from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. He was the 1978 Australian of the Year.
The Yolngu or Yolŋu are an aggregation of Aboriginal Australian people inhabiting north-eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. Yolngu means "person" in the Yolŋu languages. The terms Murngin, Wulamba, Yalnumata, Murrgin and Yulangor were formerly used by some anthropologists for the Yolngu.
The Gove Peninsula is at the northeastern corner of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. The peninsula became strategically important during World War II when a Royal Australian Air Force base was constructed at what is now Gove Airport. The peninsula was involved in a famous court case known as the Gove land rights case, when local Yolngu people tried to claim native title over their traditional lands in 1971, after the Australian Government had granted a mineral lease to a bauxite mining company without consulting the local peoples. Today the land is owned by the Yolngu people.
Makassar people from the region of Sulawesi in Indonesia began visiting the coast of northern Australia sometime around the middle of the 18th century, first in the Kimberley region, and some decades later in Arnhem Land. They were men who collected and processed trepang, a marine invertebrate prized for its culinary value generally and for its supposed medicinal properties in Chinese markets. The term Makassan is generally used to apply to all the trepangers who came to Australia.
Nhulunbuy is a town and locality in the Northern Territory of Australia. Founded on the Gove Peninsula in north-east Arnhem Land when a bauxite mine and deep water port were established in the late 1960s, the town’s economy largely revolved around its alumina refinery until it closed in May 2014.
The Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures (Garma) is Australia's largest Indigenous cultural gathering, taking place over four days each August in northeast Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, Australia. Hosted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Garma is a celebration of the cultural traditions of the Yolngu people, and a major community gathering for the clans and families of the Arnhem Land region. The event showcases traditional miny'tji (art), ancient story-telling, manikay (song), and bunggul (dance). It is held at Gulkula, a significant Gumatj ceremonial site about 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the township of Nhulunbuy, attracts more than 2500 guests each year and is often sold out months in advance.
Yirrkala is a small community in East Arnhem Region, Northern Territory, Australia, 18 kilometres (11 mi) southeast of the large mining town of Nhulunbuy, on the Gove Peninsula in Arnhem Land. Its population comprises predominantly Aboriginal Australians of the Yolngu people, and it is also home to a number of Mission Aviation Fellowship pilots and engineers based in Arnhem Land, providing air transport services.
Gove Airport is on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia. It services the mining town of Nhulunbuy and several Aboriginal communities including Yirrkala. The airport is located 5.8 nautical miles south southeast of the Nhulunbuy town centre, on Melville Road. It is operated by the Nhulunbuy Corporation.
The Yirrkala bark petitions, sent by the Yolngu people, an Aboriginal Australian people of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, to the Australian Parliament in 1963, were the first traditional documents prepared by Indigenous Australians that were recognised by the Australian Parliament, and the first documentary recognition of Indigenous people in Australian law. The petitions asserted that the Yolngu people owned land over which the federal government had granted mining rights to a private company, Nabalco.
Elcho Island, known to its traditional owners as Galiwin'ku (Galiwinku) is an island off the coast of Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located at the southern end of the Wessel Islands group located in the East Arnhem Region. Galiwin'ku is also the name of the settlement where the island's largest community lives. Elcho Island formed part of the traditional lands of the Yan-nhaŋu, according to Norman Tindale. According to J. C. Jennison, the Aboriginal inhabitants were the Dhuwal, who called themselves the Kokalango Mala (mala=clan.)
Raymattja Marika, also known as Gunutjpitt Gunuwanga, was a Yolngu leader, scholar, educator, translator, linguist and cultural advocate for Aboriginal Australians. She was a Director of Reconciliation Australia and a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. She was also a director of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and a participant in the 2020 Summit, which was held in April 2008. Marika advocated understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous Australian and Western cultures.
Timmy Murmurrga Burarrwanga, also known by his tribal name Djawa Djuwait, is an Aboriginal Australian who belongs to the Gumatj clan. He is a business operator, cultural leader and current chairman of the Yirrkala Dhanbul Aboriginal Corporation, a community development organization associated with the Bunuwal group of companies. He was formerly a director of the Lanyhapuy Homelands Association, and is heavily active in the outstation movement, numerous other Aboriginal organizations, and has lent his support to the One Laptop Per Child Australia group.
Dhuwarrwarr Marika, also known as Banuminy, a female contemporary Aboriginal artist. She is a Yolngu artist and community leader from East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. She belongs to the Dhuwa moiety of the Rirratjingu clan in the homeland of Yalangbara, daughter of Mawalan Marika. Marika is an active bark painter, carver, mat maker, and printmaker.
Mungurrawuy Yunupingu (c.1905–1979) was a prominent Aboriginal Australian artist and leader of the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu people of northeastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. He was known for his bark paintings.
Ishmael Marika is a Yolngu musician, filmmaker, director and producer. His installations have been exhibited in many of Australia's most important museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. He is currently the Creative Director for the pre-eminent Indigenous media unit in Australia, the Mulka Project, based at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre at Yirrkala in Northeast Arnhem Land. The Mulka Project seeks to preserve and disseminate the sacred languages and cultural practices of the Yolngu people by collecting and archiving photographs, audio and video.
The Garrangali Band, also known as Garrangali, is an Aboriginal Australian musical group from the tiny homeland community, or outstation, of Baniyala in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. Garrangali means "home of the crocodile" in the Yolngu language, in which they sing some lyrics. Their musical style has been variously described as reggae, saltwater reggae and saltwater ska.
Bäniyala is a tiny community of Aboriginal Australian people, known as a homeland, situated on Blue Mud Bay in the Gulf of Carpentaria in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia, located 210 kilometres (130 mi) from Nhulunbuy. It is home to about 150 Yolŋu people.
Mathaman Marika (c.1920–1970) was an Aboriginal Australian artist and Indigenous rights activist. He was a member of the Rirratjingu clan of the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and one of the well-known Marika family, brother of Mawalan 1 Marika, Milirrpum Marika, Roy Dadaynga Marika, and Dhunggala Marika. Mathaman was second oldest after Mawalan.
Nancy Gaymala Yunupingu was a senior Yolngu artist and matriarch, who lived in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Australia. She worked at the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala, where her work is still held, and is known for her graphic art style, bark paintings and printmaking.
Coordinates: 12°43′48″S134°35′24″E / 12.73000°S 134.59000°E