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
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.
The 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.
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