Chapter 2 "British Studies" by D. D. Kozikis, G. I. Medvedev, p. 23-29.
The Present Population of the United
The people who now inhabit the British Isles are descended mainly from the people who lived here some 9 centuries ago. The English nation was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the native population of the British Isles — the pre-Celts and the Celts with the invaders: the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes), the Danes and the Normans. The latter were a branch of the Scandinavian Vikings who, after settling in northern France and assimilating the local language and customs, conquered England in 1066.
Two decades later in 1086 William the Conqueror ordered the so-called Doomsday Book. As it was discovered, in those days the population of the country was approximately 2 million people. But the available records do not enable any precise estimates about the size of the population until the beginning of the 19th century. Censuses of the people of the United Kingdom have been taken regularly every 10 years since 1801 (except for 1941 because of the Second World War).
In the early 18th century Britain was inhabited by 6.5 million people. In 1901 the population of the UK was 38.2 million. It increased to 59.8 million in 2000 (see Table below). Official projections, based on mid-1999 population estimates, forecast that the population will have reached nearly 61.8 million by 2011.
For the first time ever, the UK has more people aged over 60 than under 16. Today there are five times more people aged over 85 than there were in 1951.
The average European Union population growth since 1951 has been approximately 23 per cent. The UK is well below that at 17 per cent. The UK is currently experiencing substantial internal migration. The population of southern England and London is continuing to grow while northern areas decline. Scotland's population has dropped by 2 per cent in 20 years. In contrast Northern Ireland's population has increased by 9 per cent.
In England and Wales, the fastest-growing region over the past 20 years has Been Milton Keynes (+64.4 per cent). Manchester has witnessed the biggest decline (-15.1 percent).
Traditionally Britain has had an inflow and outflow of people. During the 100 years, from 1836 till 1936, 11 million people left the British Isles. This mass emigration was caused by a movement of bankrupt peasants and unemployed who travelled to North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, some parts of Asia and Africa in search for a better life. Thus they spread economic, political and cultural (as well as linguistic) influence of Britain. Mass emigration from Britain stopped after World War I when the above mentioned countries imposed strict immigration laws.
Population of the United Kingdom (2000)
Per cent of population aged:
16 to pension age
above pension age
Population density (people
per sq km)
Per cent population change
(1981 to 2000)
Births per 1,000 population
Deaths per 1,000 population
On the other hand, in the 1930s Britain saw a considerable flow of refugees from continental Europe as a result of fascist persecution, in the 1950s and 1960s — a large influx of people from West Indies and India. After the 1960s a considerable number of people entered the UK from the Commonwealth countries.
According to the 2001 census, about 9 per cent of the people in Britain are non-white. While there were predictions of a large growth in ethnic minorities in some cities, the picture is more complicated than that. Two areas of London have become the first in the UK to have a non-white majority — Newham and Brent.
What the figures of the census don't tell us at the moment is how mobile the UK's minority communities have become. Many academics predict that British Indians will be most mobile because of a historically high level of their qualifications.
London has the highest proportion of minority ethnic communities. Just a little over 50 per cent of the city's people describe themselves as white British. A further 14 per cent are either white Irish or white other, which includes Europeans,
Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, etc. There are now more ethnically African residents (8 per cent) in London than black Caribbean (7 per cent). The largest Asian community is Bangladeshis (5 per cent), principally in east London.
On the other hand, Luton, Birmingham, Leicester and Blackburn have seen an increase in their ethnic minority shares of greater than five percent since 1991 with the conurbations of Manchester, Bradford and Oldham seeing an increase of around the 3-5 per cent mark. The city long predicted to have the first non-white majority, Leicester, actually has minority ethnic communities comprising only 36 per cent of its total population.
The greatest change can be seen in Greater London, particularly in Hounslow, Lewisham, Croydon, Tower Hamlets, Harrow and Redbridge. Newham has seen the greatest increase in its ethnic minority share with an increase Of 18 per cent over the 1991-2001 decade.
The results of the 2001 census show that household numbers are falling. More than a quarter of homes in the UK are owned outright by their occupiers, while almost another four in 10 are owned with the help of a mortgage or loan.
Almost a quarter (22.5 per cent) qualify as social housing, while 8 per cent are privately rented. By far the highest proportion of social housing exists in Scotland, where more than a quarter of all homes are owned by either a council or housing association.
The most popular type of home in the UK is semi-detached (more than 27 per cent of all homes), closely followed by detached, then terraced. Just over a fifth of all homes are flats or bedsits — but this figure varies dramatically in different parts of Britain.
In Scotland, a third of all homes are in purpose built blocks of flats or tenements, compared with just over 7 per cent of all homes in Northern Ireland.
As it would be expected, some of the UK's large cities have the highest proportion of flats and bedsits — 70 per cent in Glasgow, 69 per cent in inner London and 60 per cent in Edinburgh. Northern Ireland has the largest number of detached homes and bungalows — more than a third fall into this category. But at the same time 1.5 million households in the UK are overcrowded.
Family and Marriage
More than four in 10 people over the age of 16 in the UK are married, while another three in 10 describe themselves as single or never married. Another 8 per cent of people are divorced, while just over 8 per cent are widowed and 7 per cent have re-married. 30 per cent of families have children. By far the highest proportion of single people — 50.1 per cent — can be found in inner London.
About 60 per cent of the population live as a couple — just over 50 per cent of these are married or re-married, while almost another 10 per cent are cohabiting. Cohabiting has doubled since 1991. Of the four countries, England has the highest proportion of non-married cohabitees — 9.9 per cent, while Northern Ireland's figure is significantly lower, at just 4.26 per cent. Northern Ireland also has the smallest number of divorcees — 4.1 per cent (a result of a strong influence of the Catholic Church), while Wales has the highest — 8.7 per cent.
Almost one in three families have children. Newham in London has the highest proportion of children under five-years-old — just over 17 per cent. The social fabric of families is changing. Some 11 per cent of non-married couples have children and just over a fifth of households are lone-parents (usually a single mother), the 2001 census found.
Every religion in the world is represented in the United Kingdom, from Hindu and Muslim to Buddhist and Zoroastrian. While the UK is basically secular, it is also overwhelmingly Christian. Since St. Augustine brought Christianity to England's shores, it has been the official religion of the land.
There are two established churches in Britain: in England — the Anglican Church of England (formed in 1534 by King Henry VIII), and in Scotland — the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (established by the Treaty of Union in 1707). The Monarch is the 'Supreme Governor' of the Church of England, which is divided into two provinces: Canterbury and York. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church and resides at Canterbury Cathedral or at Lambeth palace in London. The Archbishop of York is the leader of the northern province and resides at York Minster.
In England proper the highest number of Christians is found in north-east England (80.1 per cent). In Scotland, the picture remains largely unchanged. The Church of Scotland is still the dominant form of Christianity with 42.4 per cent. In some areas there are so few people of other religions they may comprise no more than one family here or there.
As expected, the highest concentration of other religions is found in London. The capital has the highest proportion of the nation's Muslims (8.5 per cent), Hindus (4.1 per cent), Jews (2.1 per cent) and Buddhists (0.8 per cent). Muslims have now emerged as the second largest religion in the UK (the first place traditionally belongs to Christians), comprising 2.7 per cent of the population and some 1.5 million people. But some academics say the figure may already be much higher because of the arrival of more refugees from Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The Islamic Cultural Centre is one of the most important Muslim institutions in Western Europe. The Central London Mosque (part of this Centre) was opened by King George VI in November 1944.
Across the UK, growing numbers of people no longer believe in the need for church membership, or even virtues of church attendance. They still, overwhelmingly, believe in God or a higher power, but, increasingly, they do not complement this with membership of an institutional church or regular attendance.
According to UK Religious Trends, a comprehensive and reliable survey of British religious life, in the past 20 years the number of adults regularly attending church has fallen from 10.9 per cent to 8.2 per cent — nearly a million fewer people. In 20 years, Roman Catholic attendance at mass has fallen from 2.4 million to 1.7 million; Anglican electoral roll numbers are down from nearly 2.2 million to under 1.6 million; Methodist membership down from 520,000 to about 366,000; while Presbyterian is expected to fall from 1.4 million to under 1 million.
The only exception is Northern Ireland. The religion figures for Ulster released after the 2001 census revealed a rise in the number of Catholics, but not as much as expected. In general terms, 60 per cent of the population in Ulster is Protestant and 40 per cent — Catholic. Northern Ireland also has the highest number of people declining to state their religion — some 13.9 per cent.
Health and welfare
The 2001 census reveals the following facts about the health situation in the United Kingdom:
Just over two thirds of the population said their general health was good, with just over one in five revealing their health was "fairly good" and almost one in 10 describing their health as "not good".
Nearly one in five people in the UK has a long-term illness, health problem or disability which limits their daily activities or the work they can do. Of the four countries in the UK, Wales has the highest proportion of people who reported their health was "not good" — 12.4 per cent — and all local authorities in Wales have above average rates for this category. Wales also has the largest number of people with limiting long-term illnesses — 23.3 per cent — and the highest proportion of unpaid carers — 11.7 per cent. England is the healthiest, with only 9 per cent of people describing their health as "not good", and 17.9 per cent reporting a limiting long-term illness. Life expectancy in the UK is still very high with 84 years for women and 78 years for men.
Four in 10 people aged between 16 and 74 in the UK are in full time employment. Just over another one in 10 work part-time, while 8 per cent are self-employed.
The total number of unemployed people at the time of the 2001 census was 3.43 per cent, while 2.6 per cent were full-time students, and 13.6 per cent were retired. These figures vary from year to year depending on the state of the economy. Of those who do work, the largest proportion are managers and senior officials — almost 15 per cent.
Just over 13 per cent of workers are in administrative and secretarial occupations, while a similar number fall into the "associate professional and technical" category, which includes jobs such as engineering technicians, nurses and artists. Skilled tradesmen and women account for almost 12 per cent of workers, while just over 11 per cent described themselves as professionals. People with "elementary occupations", for example mail sorters, hotel porters and traffic wardens, make up almost 12 per cent of the workforce.
Summing up the involvement of the active population of the country, one should note that the service sector is in the lead followed by manufacturing (20.3 per cent), whereas less than 2 per cent is involved in agriculture.
Transport and Transportation
Without any doubt, British people love their cars. Despite years of rising controversy over traffic jams and concern for the environment, they overwhelmingly use their cars to get to and from work. Some 30 per cent of families in the UK own 2 cars.
In England, almost half of homes own one car. A quarter own two vehicles. Approximately 1 per cent of homes own four or more cars. According to the latest census, there are 23,936,250 cars in active use in England and Wales. The patterns are almost identical in Wales and Northern Ireland, including the number of households which don't use a car — just over a quarter. In Scotland, there is a higher proportion of households without cars (34 per cent) but almost exactly the same number of households with one car (43 per cent). Fewer homes own two cars (18 per cent). Scotland's 2.1 million families own 2,044,018 cars.
The exception to all of this is London. A majority of London homes do not own a car. This by no means suggests it is because they are poorer. London has dramatically higher levels of use of public transport as more people choose to avoid driving in the capital's near-constant traffic jams and where access to the centre is strictly limited and parking is almost impossible!
Cities in Britain
Britain is one of the most urbanised countries in Europe (and probably in the world with some 90 % of urban population). There are now 61 cities in the UK: 49 in England, five in Scotland, four in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. City status is a» mark of distinction granted by the personal Command of the Sovereign, on the advice of his or her Ministers..The largest cities in the UK with the population exceeding 1 million people are London (7,074,265) and Birmingham (1,020,589). Below is the updated list, (in alphabetical order) of the cities of all 4 countries of the United Kingdom. England: