Society of United Kingdom



Population per sq km:  268

Life expectancy: 81 years

Net primary enrolment: 100%

Population: 65,138,000 (2015); England 84 per cent, Scotland 8 per cent, Wales 5 per cent, Northern Ireland 3 per cent (2011 census); 82 per cent of people live in urban areas and 26 per cent in urban agglomerations of more than a million people; growth 0.8 per cent p.a. 1990–2015; birth rate 12 per 1,000 people (16 in 1970); life expectancy 81 years (72 in 1970 and around 50 in 1901).

According to the 2001 census, the ethnic origins of the population are 92.1 per cent European; four per cent Asian (1.8 per cent Indian, 1.3 per cent Pakistani, 0.5 per cent Bangladeshi); two per cent Caribbean or African; and 0.4 per cent Chinese.

Language: English (official language); Welsh (an official language in Wales) is spoken by about 19 per cent of people in Wales (2011 census) and is the first language in much of rural north and west Wales; Scottish Gaelic is spoken in Scotland by some 70,000 people, many of whom live in the Hebrides. Many ethnic minorities speak the languages of their countries of origin.

Religion: The majority of adherents to a religion are Christians (59.5 per cent in the 2011 census, of a wide variety of denominations); independent churches and new religious movements increased in the late 20th century. There are substantial communities of Muslims (4.4 per cent), Hindus (1.3 per cent), Sikhs (0.7 per cent), Jews (0.4 per cent) and Buddhists (0.4 per cent). About one-quarter of the population does not profess any religion (25.7 per cent in the 2011 census).

Media: There are many daily and Sunday newspapers, of which some ten dailies and ten Sunday papers are national. ‘Quality’ newspapers include The Daily Telegraph (established 1855), Financial Times (1888), The Guardian (1821), The Independent (1986), The Scotsman (1817 as a weekly, daily from 1855) and The Times (1785). Leading weeklies include The Economist, The Observer and The Sunday Times.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) – which began daily radio broadcasting in 1922 – provides national, regional and community public radio and TV services, and the international World Service radio and World News TV channel. The BBC is funded by an annual licence fee payable by all households with a TV set. The first commercial TV channel, ITV, was launched in 1955 and commercial radio in the 1970s (although ship-based ‘pirate’ radio stations sprung up in the 1960s until they were outlawed).

The many other TV and radio broadcasters, including the state-owned TV channel, Channel 4 (launched in 1982), are funded by income from sales of advertising or by subscription, or by civil society organisations. All broadcasting is digital and the majority of stations and channels have only ever been digital. Analogue broadcasts were switched off region by region during 2007–12. Terrestrial and satellite broadcasting reaches most households. In most urban areas cable transmission is also available; and many radio and TV programmes can be replayed via the internet.

Some 99 per cent of households have TV sets (2007).  There are 885 personal computers per 1000 people (2012).

Public holidays: New Year’s Day, May Day (first Monday in May), Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May), Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August, first Monday in August in Scotland only), Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Additionally in Scotland: Hogmanay (2 January); and in Northern Ireland: St Patrick’s Day (17 March), and Battle of the Boyne Day (12 July). The Queen’s Official Birthday (in June) is not a public holiday.

Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday and Easter Monday.