Country Digest

Population of Cornwall (2017)

The population of Cornwall in 2015, the latest date for which data is available, is 549,404. This makes Cornwall the 40th largest county in England by population.

In addition, the population of the Isles of Scilly (a district of Cornwall) is 2,280 people. There is more information about the demographics of the Isles of Scilly in the section at the end of this article.

The population of Cornwall is growing, but growth is mainly among older (40+) residents. The number of young people in the county (aged 39 or younger) is declining.

An official estimate of the 2016 population of Cornwall will be released by the Office for National Statistics in summer 2017.

Largest Towns in Cornwall

There are no cities in Cornwall, but there are several mid-sized towns with a population of more than 20,000.

St Austell is the largest town in Cornwall. In 2013, its population was 27,400 people. The wider urban area around St Austell, has a population of 34,700 (2011 census data).

Other towns include Falmouth (22,300), Camborne (21,600), Penzance & Newlyn (21,200), Truro (21,000) and Newquay (20,300).

Here is a list of the largest towns in Cornwall (all those with a population of more than 10,000 people:

Town Population (2013)
St Austell 27,400
Falmouth 22,300
Camborne 21,600
Penzance & Newlyn 21,200
Truro 21,000
Newquay 20,300
Saltash 16,600
Redruth 15,600
Bodmin 15,300
Helston 11,900
St Ives 11,500

Source: http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/Cornwall/statistics.htm

The largest urban area in Cornwall is the Camborne-Redruth area, which has a total population of 55,400 (2011 data).

Cornwall Population Growth

The population of Cornwall declined gradually between 1860 and 1950, but has been growing steadily since then. Between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, the number of people living in Cornwall increased by more than 33,000 people (6.7%).

Here is a table listing the population of Cornwall by census year.

Census Year Population
1801 188,269
1811 216,667
1821 257,447
1831 300,938
1841 341,279
1851 355,558
1861 369,390
1871 358,256
1881 330,686
1891 322,571
1901 318,591
1911 328,098
1921 320,705
1931 317,968
1941 (no census due to war)
1951 345,442
1961 342,301
1971 381,672
1981 418,631
1991 468,425
2001 501,267
2011 535,300
2015 (estimate) 549,404

A worrying trend has emerged in recent years, as Cornwall’s population growth has been spread unevenly between different generations. While the number of older residents (aged 40+) has been growing, the number of younger residents (under 40 years) has been falling again.

This ageing population (which is partly caused by Cornwall’s reputation as a retirement destination) could cause problems for the county in the longer term, as the pressure on healthcare and social services increases.

Ethnicity and National Identity in Cornwall

The population of Cornwall is almost entirely White.

White98.2%
Non-white1.8%

Results from the 2011 census indicated that 98.2% of people in Cornwall were White and just 1.8% of the population was non-white.

In the 2011 census, people were also asked to choose their national identity. Almost one in ten (9.9%) people reported that their national identity was Cornish only.

Only Cornish9.9%
Part-Cornish3.9%
No Cornish identity reported86.2%

This is a significant increase over the 2001 census, where 6.8% of people reported that they were Cornish.

A further 3.9% reported that they were part Cornish. This included 1% of people who reported that they were Cornish and British, and 2.9% who reported that they were Cornish and English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish.

86.2% did not report any Cornish identity. The vast majority in this group reported that their national identity was either English or British.

Cornwall language

English is the most commonly spoken language in Cornwall, followed by Polish. There are also 464 people in Cornwall who speak Cornish as their first language.

At the time of the 2011 census, 98% of people in Cornwall aged 16 or over spoke English as their main language.

Cornish is a recognised minority language in the United Kingdom. It is a Celtic language, descended from Common Britannic. Despite once being declared an extinct language (Dolly Pentreath, the last fluent, native speaker , Cornish, died in 1777) Cornish has undergone a revival in recent years.

In the 2011 census, 557 people declared that Cornish was their main language. Of those, 464 people lived in Cornwall.

The number of people who can speak Cornish to some level is though to be considerably higher – perhaps around 3,500.

Cornwall religion

In total, 59.8% of people in Cornwall reported that they were Christian. It is the only religion to be followed by more than 0.5% of the population.

The next most common answers given in the 2011 census were No Religion (30.3%) and Religion Not Stated (8.5%).

Christian59.8%
No Religion30.3%
Religion Not Stated8.5%
Other religion1.4%

No other religion was followed by more than 0.5% of the population. The largest minority religion was Buddhism – 0.32% of people reported that they were Buddhist, followed by Muslim (0.16%), Hindu (0.10%) and Jewish (0.07%).

Isles of Scilly population

The latest Isles of Scilly population is 2,280 (data from 2015). It has a population density of 139 people per km2, or 360 people per square mile.

The largest town in the Isles of Scilly is Hugh Town. At the time of the last census, in 2011, its population was 1,097 people.

The Isles of Scilly is one of two districts in the county of Cornwall. Its population is not included in the data above about Cornwall.

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