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United Kingdom

Population

The UK is one of Europe's most densely populated countries with 272 residents per km2. About 80 percent live in cities, the largest of which are London (8.4 million residents, 2014), Birmingham (1.1 million) and, Glasgow (596,600). The fastest growing areas are south-east and south-west England; in the north-west and north of England as well as large parts of Scotland the population is declining.

Religion and Languages of United Kingdom

According to Countryaah, about 13 percent of the population is born abroad, mainly in Ireland, India, the Caribbean and Pakistan. However, the current immigration shows a different pattern; there are more immigrants from Eastern Europe, Australia and the United States than from the Indian Peninsula.

Language

Religion and Languages of United KingdomThe most dominant language in the UK is English. However, Wales is a shared language area where English and Welsh are spoken, and both languages are, by law, equal in public administration. Welsh (Cymric), which is a Celtic language, is spoken by about 500,000 people, which make up about 25% of the population, especially in the northern parts of Wales. In the Scottish Highlands, Gaelic was originally spoken, another Celtic language, but it has been in decline since the 18th century. Today, English is spoken throughout Scotland, but there are about 80,000 native speakers of modern Scottish Gaelic, most of whom live in the Hebrides and in Glasgow. Gaelic teaching is voluntary at higher levels and locally compulsory at the lower level.

Religion

In England, the Church of England is a state church. Only confirmed are considered members (1999 about 20% of the population), but over 80% consider themselves Anglicans. See further Church of England. In the 18th century there were free churches, mainly The Methodist Church (about 430,000 members and an outer circle of about 1.3 million); compare methodism. Baptism also developed into a classical Free Church (about 165,000 members). Presbyterians and Congregationalists joined in 1972 at the United Reformed Church (approximately 117,000 members). These free churches also have a wider circle of affiliates. Roman Catholics (close to 9% of the population), long oppressed, increased greatly in numbers during the 19th century through immigration from Ireland. The church was reorganized in 1850 (4 provinces and 15 dioceses); primas is the Archbishop of Westminster. In addition to a large number of smaller communities and sects, there are large minorities of Muslims (about 1 million), Hindus (about 320,000) and Sikhs (about 300,000) due to immigration from previous colonies. The number of Jews is about 300,000.

In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland is the strongest (about 65% of the population). The Roman Catholic Church (about 16% of the population) survived the Reformation period in some parts of Scotland and increased in numbers through Irish immigration in the 19th century. The Scottish Episcopal Church (about 86,000 members) has since 1961 been organized as an independent church province in the Anglican Church community. There is an increasing immigration of Muslims, especially to Glasgow.

In Wales, the Anglican Church of Wales was separated from the state in 1920 (it counts about 108,000 confirmed members). Of various free churches (approximately 220,000 registered members), the Methodist Church, Baptist Church and United Reformed Church are the most important. The Roman Catholic Church (about 150,000 members) dates from 19th-century Irish immigration.

See also Northern Ireland (Religion). For background see the religious sections in the articles England, Scotland and Wales.

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