24 October 2014
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Ethnic minorities in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Europe, with London probably being the most cosmopolitan capital in the EU. This is mainly due to the large numbers of immigrants from commonwealth countries who have arrived in the UK since the 1950’s. Despite the influx of these recent arrivals the vast majority of the population is still overwhelmingly white.

The last major census that was carried out in the UK was held in 2001, that survey indicated that over 92 per cent of the population or 54 million people could be classed as White British.

The major ethnic minority groups that are currently living in the UK include British Black who can trace their origins to the Caribbean or West Indies. There are also British Asian these can trace their origins to countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Most of these groups started to arrive in this country from the 1950’s onwards, all of the countries named were former British colonies.

In 2001 it was estimated that the non white ethnic minority community in the UK was in the region of 4.6 million people. This is one major factor that encouraged multiculturalism in the country, successive governments have taken many steps to increase integration by ethnic minority groups with mainstream society.

There is also a substantial Irish community in England, these are sometimes classed as a white minority group.

Different groups of ethnic minorities UK

British Black
After the Second World War many thousands of black people emigrated from the Caribbean to England, they are sometimes referred to as Black Caribbean. Initially most of these were single men looking for work, but after they settled they were joined by their spouses and children. The total British black population of the UK was estimated in 2001 as being 1.2 million people, this figure included people from the West Indies and also Africa. From the 1990’s onwards large numbers of immigrants have come from Africa to settle in this country, they have come primarily from Nigeria and Ghana.

British Asian
Statistics from the population census in 2001 which asked participants to list their racial background showed that there were 2,331,423 people of south Asian descent in the UK. Although that number will almost certainly have increased to today as the number of 3rd and 4th generations British Asians increase. Virtually all of these have come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the biggest group being from India.

British Chinese
Hong Kong was a British colony and after the second world war Chinese people started to come here in small numbers. The second wave of immigrants from Hong Kong came here in the early 1990’s just prior to the Chinese take over of Hong Kong. The 2001 UK census estimated their numbers to be in the region of 247,403. An interesting point to note is that previous Chinese immigrants have all come from South China and Hong Kong.
You should also note that there has always been a significant number of Chinese students coming to the Universities of England.

Non British white immigration
For many centuries large numbers of Europeans have been migrating to the UK. These are separate from the most recent arrivals from Eastern Europe. Large numbers of Irish people travelled and settled in mainland England from the 18th century onwards. Other white immigration to this country have come from countries like Italy, Greek Cypriots and more recently from East European countries who have joined the EU.

Polish immigration to the UK
During the second world war many polish soldiers and airmen were based in England, and after the war a significant amount chose to remain in the UK to live. The next wave of polish immigrants came after Poland joined the EU in 2004. Population statistics estimate that over 450000 people of polish origin were living in the UK in 2007. Although it must be said that their movement in fluid with many reported going back to Poland due to the worldwide recession.

For more information about the ethnic minority population of the UK, click on the following links:

Diversity Jobs Board

Disability Jobs Board


Other ethnic minority groups in the UK are:

British Jews

British Mixed Race

British Arabs

Pakistani community in London


More useful links to CV topics:

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