Ethnic and Minority Populations

After the Second World War the United Kingdom became a country of immigration due to large-scale immigration from its former colonies. Former colonial ties are still present in the composition of the country’s ethnic and minority populations.

Children at the Notting Hill carnival in London 2009: According to the 2011 census, 12.8 percent of the population self-identify as ethnic minorities.

According to the 2011 census, 12.8 percent of the population self-identify as ethnic minorities. The census asks respondents to classify themselves according to five broad categories of ethnicity: these include “White,” “mixed/multiple ethnic,” “Asian or Asian British,” “Black/African/Caribbean/Black British,” and “Other.” Finer ethnic or source country distinctions are made consistently across all of the UK areas only within the “Asian” and “Black” categories. The breakdown for the UK is shown in the Table.

Visible minorities are concentrated in England’s cities, above all in London: according to the 2011 census, white Londoners are now a minority: 54 percent of the capital’s population is composed of ethnic minorities; 37 percent of Londoners were born outside the country, up from 27 percent in the previous census in 2001. There are also substantial visible minority concentrations in the West Midlands (including Birmingham) and in West Yorkshire (including Bradford), but these now-de-industrialized regions have been less attractive than the capital to recent immigrants.

Population of the UK by Ethnic Group, 2011
Total populationEthnic minority
(in thousands)
Mixed / Multiple Ethnic Groups1,2502.015.4
Asian or Asian British4,3736.953.9
Other Asian8621.410.6
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British1,9053.023.5
Other Ethnic Group5800.97.2
All ethnic minority population 8,10912.8100
Total population63,182100.0n/a
Source: Office for National Statistics, 2011 Census

This text is part of the country profile United Kingdom.
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Randall Hansen

About the author

Randall Hansen

Dr. Randall Hansen is Full Professor at the Canada Research Chair in Immigration and Governance, and Director of the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. r.hansen@utoronto.ca

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