Country Digest

Population of England 2017

The latest official government estimate of the population of England is 54,786,300.

England is the largest of four countries which make up the United Kingdom. England makes up 84.14% of the total population of the United Kingdom. It is ten times as large as the next largest country (Scotland: population 5.4 million) in the UK.

If England were an independent country it would be the six largest in Europe, and the fourth largest in the EU, after Italy. It would also be the 25th largest country in the world, with a population just below that of South Africa.

England, as part of the UK, does not have its own independent government. Because of this, technically, it does not have a capital city. However London is the largest city in England and is commonly regarded as its de facto capital city.

Population growth in England

Population growth in England is higher than the UK average. Between 2004 and 2014, the population of England grew at an average annual rate of 0.79%, slightly higher than the 0.75% growth rate in the rest of the UK.

For comparison, the rate of population growth in Wales was 0.45% per annum, in Scotland it was 0.51% and in Northern Ireland it was 0.71%.

Within England, London is the most rapidly growing area. Its annual population growth rate of 1.4% per year is more than double the growth rate in the rest of England, and nearly five times as much as the rate in North-East England which was just 0.3% per annum. Population growth rates are also high in the areas surrounding London – for example 0.89% in the East of England and 0.88% in the South-East of England.

The tables below show the population of England at key dates through its history. The first table shows the population of England between 1086 and 1700, just before the kingdom of England and the kingdom of Scotland merged in 1707 to form the United Kingdom. The second table shows the population of England (not the UK as a whole), as recorded in every census since 1801.

Population: 1086-1700

Year Population
1086 1,710,000
1190 3,100,000
1220 3,970,000
1250 4,230,000
1279 4,430,000
1290 4,750,000
1315 4,690,000
1325 4,120,000
1348 4,810,000
1351 2,600,000
1377 2,500,000
1400 2,080,000
1430 2,020,000
1450 1,900,000
1490 2,140,000
1522 2,350,000
1541 2,830,000
1560 3,200,000
1600 4,110,000
1650 5,310,000
1700 5,200,000

Population: 1801-2011

Year Population
1801 7,754,875
1811 8,762,178
1821 10,402,143
1831 12,011,830
1841 13,654,914
1851 15,288,885
1861 18,325,052
1871 21,361,235
1881 24,397,385
1891 27,231,229
1901 30,072,180
1911 33,561,235
1921 35,230,225
1931 37,359,045
1941 38,084,321
1951 38,668,830
1961 41,159,213
1971 43,460,525
1981 45,978,080
1991 48,197,672
2001 49,138,831
2011 53,012,456

As you can see from the two tables the population of England grew steadily between 1086 and 1348. Then, amidst the terrors of the Black Death, a plague which swept Europe, England’s population was decimated. In just three years England’s population was almost halved. In the difficult century that followed, England’s population fell by a further quarter, to a low of 1.9 million in 1450.

England’s population began to recover under the Tudors and the country has seen steady, almost uninterrupted, population growth since the end of the 15th century.

Largest cities in England

London is the largest city in England, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. It is also the third largest city in Europe, after Istanbul and Moscow, and the 21st largest city in the world today. In 2015 the population of Greater London was 8,673,713.

There is one other city in England that is home to more than 1 million people. In 2015 Birmingham’s population was 1,111,307.

There are a further four cities with a population of over 500,000 people. They are Leeds (population: 774,060), Sheffield (population: 569,737), Bradford (population: 531,176), and Manchester (population: 530,292).

City name Population
London  8,673,713
Birmingham 1,111,307
Leeds 774,060
Sheffield  569,737
Bradford  531,176
Manchester  530,292

England demographics

This section contains a brief overview of key English demographics. More detailed information can be found in our comprehensive article on the UK population.

Ethnicity

England is slightly more diverse than the rest of the UK. Data from the 2011 census shows that 85.4% of the population England is White. This compares with 87.1% across the UK as a whole.

Other major groups in England are Asian (7.8%), Black (3.5%), British mixed (2.3%), and Other (1.0%)

White85.4%
Asian or Asian British7.8%
Black or Black British3.5%
British Mixed2.3%
Other1.0%

As with most countries, English cities are generally more diverse than other parts of the country.

Language

English is the most commonly spoken main language in England. The 2011 census reported that 92.02% of people in England aged three or over spoke English as their main language.

Polish is the only other language spoken by more than 1% of the population – in 2011 it was the main language of 1.04% of people in England.

Religion

Christianity is the largest single religious group in England although, according to the census reports of 2001 and 2011, the number of Christians has declined significantly in recent years. In 2001, 71.74% of people reported that they were Christian but, by 2011, this had fallen to 59.38% of people – a drop of just over 12%.

Christian59.38%
No religion24.74%
Muslim

Most of this change is as a result of a large increase in the number of people who reported that they have no religion. The number of people in this category increased by 10% between the two censuses, from 14.59% in 2001 to 24.74% in 2011.

England has also seen an increase in the people who report they are Muslims – from 3.10% in 2001 to 5.02% in 2011. Other religions have also seen increases over the past decade.

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