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MINORITY ETHNIC GROUPS: NUMBERS

In 2001, a national survey called the Census was carried out of the whole population in Britain. This has the most recent and accurate figures possible on the number of people from different ethnic groups.

92.15% of the population of Britain (more than nine out of every ten people) gave their ethnic group as White British. This was higher in the North East, Wales and the South West, where over 95% described themselves as White British. Taking England separately, the percentage of people from minority ethnic groups has grown from 6% to 9% since 1991.

Someone's ethnic group is not the same as where they were born. 87.4% of people in England (and 97% of people living in Wales) were born in Britain.

group % of UK population other details and notes
White 92.1%  
Indian 1.8% Indians make up 25.7% of Leicester's population
Bangladeshi 0.5% The London borough of Tower Hamlets has the highest proportion of Bangladeshis in England and Wales, with 33.4%
Pakistani 1.3% Over half of Pakistanis live in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West.
Other Asian 0.4% Thais, Sri Lankans, Malaysians etc
Black Caribbean 1% Black Caribbeans form 10% of the population of the London boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Brent and Hackney.
Black African 0.8% About 10% of Southwark, Newham, Lambeth and Hackney are Black African.
Other Black 0.2% About 2% of people describe themselves as Other Black in Hackney, Lambeth and Lewisham.
Chinese 0.4% Chinese people form just over 2% of the population in Cambridge, Westminster, Barnet and in the City of London.
Mixed 1.2% The largest proportions of people of mixed origin are in London, with the exception of Nottingham, where 2% of people are Mixed White and Black Caribbean. This group has grown since the 1991 census
other 0.4%  
In England and Wales only
White Irish 1.2% The area with the highest proportion is the London borough of Brent (6.9 per cent of the population).
White Other 4.5% The area with the highest proportion of this very mixed group (everyone white who did not describe themselves as British or Irish) is Kensington and Chelsea (25.3%).

Minority groups are not represented evenly across all age groups. People tend to become immigrants when they are young adults, so until quite recently there were not very many older black and Asian people. Since young adults are usually the ones who have children, a higher proportion of children are black and Asian than, say, people in their 40s.

Since the Census, two important things have happened that affect the figures: some new countries joined the European Union, and Britain's economy has become more prosperous, so there have been more jobs than people to do them.
The result has been that thousands of people from the new EU countries have moved to Britain, so the population has gone up. The countries they have come from are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary, but most are from Poland. It is likely that these new immigrants now make up about 1% of the population, probably a little more.

Unlike any previous Census this one also asked people what their religion was. The figures for England are shown in the table below, but the notes show that London has a great religious variety that is really not typical of the rest of the country.

religion % Notes about London
Christian 66% 58% (76% in Havering)
Muslim 3% 8.5% in London overall, 24% in Newham, 36% in Tower Hamlets
Hindu 1.1% 4.1% (19.6% in Harrow)
Sikh 0.7% 8% of Hounslow and Ealing
Jewish 0.5% 2.1% (14.8% in Barnet)
Buddhist 0.3% 0.8%
No religion 7.7% 16%

The district with the highest proportion of Sikhs is Slough. One person in seven of the population of Leicester is Hindu. One person in nine of the population of Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, is Jewish. Over one per cent of the population of Cambridge is Buddhist.

Again, religion will not tell you much about someone's nationality. Most Jews in Britain are British-born, and the same is true for most Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims of school age.

A different survey (not the Census) tells us something about the religions of different ethnic groups. Be careful how you read this table: the percentages only make sense downwards, not across.

  Black Caribbean Indian Pakistani Bangladeshi Chinese White
No religion 28% 5% 2% 1% 58% 30%
Hindu 1% 38% - 2% - -
Sikh - 44% - - - -
Muslim 1% 6% 96% 95% - -
Christian 69% 5% - 1% 23% 69%
Other religions 3% 2% 2% 1% 10% 1%

Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number, so vertical columns may not always add up to exactly 100.

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