People and Culture
The UK has a very diverse society and the image that all Brits are cricket-playing, cucumber-sandwich- eating people with stiff upper lips is not at all true. As described more fully in our "Why Study in the UK" pages, the UK has a very multicultural society and is very open to new religions and cultures.
Over the last 30 to 40 years the UK has changed greatly and has become much more cosmopolitan and multicultural. The UK is seen as a destination of great diversity with London being the hub for many internationals.
At the last census in 2001, there were 58,789,194 people in the UK which broke down to:
- UK - 49,138,831 million
- Scotland - 5,062,011 million
- Wales - 2,903085 million
- Northern Ireland - 1,685,267 million
Overall since 1951, the population in the UK has seen a 17 percent rise, slower than the average growth in the EU during the same time period of 23 percent.
The main religion in the UK is Christianity which makes up about 42 million people, largely split between the Church of England and Catholicism.
The Church of England was established in 1534 by Henry VIII, as he split from the Catholic Church, and remains the officially-established church in England. With over 27 million people in the UK, the Church of England is the largest denomination by far and a very influential force on British culture. With the Archbishop of Canterbury at its head, the Church of England encompasses two main traditions, the “high church” and the “low church”, and it’s considered the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Church. The “high church” follows fairly traditional forms of worship, similar to Catholicism, whereas the “low church” is more evangelical and more closely related to the worldwide Anglican movement.
Roman Catholics make up the second largest Christian group, with about 9 million practicing in the UK, and the rest follow other Protestant denominations including Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal.
In addition to Christianity, the UK has large numbers of practicing members of other major world religions, as follows:
- Pakistani Muslims 658,000
- Indian Hindus 467,000
- Indian Sikhs 301,000
- Bangladeshi Muslims 260,000
- White Jews 252,000
Please visit the National Statistics website for more information on religion in the UK.
A little know fact about the UK is that there are officially just over 390,000 practicing Jedi's! This quirky fact can about from the 2001 census when a email was sent around that claimed if enough people put this down as their religion, the UK government would have to recognize this as a religion. Of course this is not true, but it is fun to know that they are about - may the force be with you!
The main language in the UK is, of course, English, which is spoken throughout the whole country. In Wales, some people still speak Welsh; however, since all Welsh people also speak English, you only need to speak English anywhere in the UK. For such a relatively small country, there are a lot of dialects in the UK, and some of them can be hard to understand, even for English people. UK dialects include:
- Cockney probably the most famous and generally attributed to people from London
- Brummy people from Birmingham
- Mancunian people from Manchester
- West Country people from Devon, Cornwall and Bristol area
- Scouser people from the Liverpool area
- Geordie people from Newcastler, Middlesborough and Sunderland
- Scottish people from Scotland
- Welsh people from Wales
For more information on languages, please see the ESL directory which lists English Language Programs.