The United Kingdom, comprised of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, has a population of approximately 64.1 million. About 83.9% of the people live in England. The entire region has gone through all the phases of demographic changes and today experiences a low population growth. This decline in growth is due, in part, to the low fertility rate of 1.92 children per woman. In order to maintain a healthy population size, a fertility rate of 2 is required. The mortality rate is also low with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 people. Ages are distributed as follows: 17.6% are between 0 and 14 years, 66% between 15 and 64, and 16.4% over the age of 65. Together, cardiovascular disease and cancer are responsible for 60% of all deaths.
People of British ancestry have their roots in a variety of indigenous groups including the Celtic, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Normans, and Romans. Many of these groups came to and settled in the area from the Iberian Peninsula during the Neolithic period between 10,500 BC and 2,000 BC. Over time, these settlers divided into three major groups: the English, Scotch, and Welsh. The people were divided into various kingdoms ruled by different indigenous leaders for hundreds of years. By 937 AD, the regions were united as one nation state under the rule of Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan of Wessex. This was the first unifying moment that brought the cultures together as one “British” culture. This did not, however, stop tribal and clan identities which, over many centuries, led Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to fight for their independence from England. In 1707, Scotland and England signed a unity treaty and in 1800, Ireland followed suit.
Religious identity and practice of the poupulation of the United Kingdom are varied but declining. In fact, 49% of the population identifies as irreligious, which is the lack of religious belief, atheism, and agnosticism. This religious identity is common and increasing throughout Europe. The UK has entered a period of post-Christianity. Of the four nations within the UK, England is the least religious.
The second most commonly practiced religion is Anglican Christianity, practiced in the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Church of Ireland, and Church of Wales. The religion was formed in 1534 when its followers broke away from the Catholic Church due to different interpretations of the Christian holy text. Since then, this has been the predominant Christian denomination and today, 17% of the population identify as such.
Another 17% of the people of the UK practice non-Catholic and non-Anglican Christian denominations. These include Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Orthodox, and Evangelical (to name a few). In Ireland, the second largest religion is Protestantism.
Roman Catholicism is practiced by 8% of the population and has an interesting history in the UK. After the church split, the Catholic Church would not recognize the previously mentioned Anglican church. Catholics, in turn, were discriminated against and prohibited from fully participating in society. In Northern Ireland, 40% of the population is Catholic.
Only 5% of the population consider themselves Muslim, although it is the fastest growing religion in the region due to immigration patterns. Approximately 3% of the population practice religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Baha’i.
Today, the UK is made up of more than people of British descent. Events throughout history have shaped the face of the region today and resulted in some groups of different ethnicities. For example, the African slave trade of the 1700’s resulted in a small population of Black British (a controversial term). International trade with China during the 19th century brought many Chinese immigrants. Beginning in 1964, many immigrants from former British colonies came to the UK, originating from Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia. Additionally, since 2004, many immigrants have come from Central and Eastern Europe as a result of being included in the European Union.
The 2011 census results are as follows: White (87%); Asian British, including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and others (6.9%); Black British (3%); Mixed (2%); Other (.9%); and Gypsy or Irish Traveller (.1%).
The official language of the poupulation of the United Kingdom is English, which is spoken by 95% of the population. In 1992, Europe drafted the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in order to preserve historical languages throughout the region. This protection is only provided to the original languages used by historic national populations, thus excluding the languages of recent immigrants. In the UK, these languages include Scots, Cornish, Ulster-Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Irish. The use of these languages is measured by abilities like speaking, reading, and writing. The percentage of people who can at least speak these languages is Welsh (18.35%), Scots (30.12%), Irish (6.05%), Ulster-Scots (2.04%), Scottish Gaelic (1.13%), and Cornish (.09%). The second most common non-historic language spoken in the UK is Polish, used by 1.01% of the population.
The UK has provided free public education since a long time. In 1870, universal primary level education was established in England, Wales, and Scotland. The secondary level was established in 1900. Children between the ages of 5 and 16 are required to attend school, and only small percentages attend private school. After secondary school, children have the option to obtain higher levels of education which includes apprenticeships and vocational training. This dedication to education has had a tremendous impact on the literacy rate throughout the UK. Today, approximately 99% of the population can read and write.
Sources Of Livelihood
The economy in the UK is one of the strongest in the world. About 78% of the UK’s gross domestic product comes from the service industry, which includes jobs in retail, transportation, sales, entertainment, restaurants, hotels, healthcare, financial services, and any other area that provides services to other businesses or customers. Other major employers in the UK include the automobile, pharmaceutical, and aerospace industries.
As previously mentioned, the poupulation of the United Kingdom is experiencing relatively slow growth due to low fertility rates among women. However, immigration to the region has led to an increase in population. In fact, 53% of the growth experienced between 1991 and 2014 was due to migration. This trend is could continue over the next 20 years or so. As people from different countries and cultures settle in the UK, they will contribute to natural changes in birth and death rates. Approximately 17% of future growth is expected to come from these changes. This means that new immigrants will directly, and indirectly, contribute to roughly 70% of expected future growth trends.