Bristol Population 2023

The 2021 population of Bristol is 472,500 people. This makes Bristol one of the largest cities in the UK.

Bristol is not just the tenth largest city in the UK by population. It is also the eighth largest city in England, the largest in the South West of England and the second largest (after London) in the South of England.

How many people live in Bristol today?

After hundreds of years of continuous population growth, Bristol’s population began to decline in the 1970s. From its 1971 peak of 428,099, the population of Bristol fell by ten percent, to 380,615 in 2001.

Bristol population 1941402,839
Bristol population 1971428,089
Bristol population 2001380,615
Bristol population 2016449,300

In recent years, however, the city’s fortunes have revived, and its population rebounded to a new high of 465,900 in 2021.

The population in Bristol is slightly younger, on average, than the rest of the UK. The city has more children aged 16 or under than it has pensioners.

Bristol also has more young workers (age 20-34) than the rest of the country – a statistic which reflects Bristol’s status as an ambitious city of business.

Bristol population growth

Bristol’s population growth between 2001 and 2011 was ten percent.

Bristol City Council is confident that growth will continue and believes that, if current trends continue, the population of Bristol will have increased by 23.3% to hit a total of 545,600 in 2039. This will outstrip growth in the rest of England, which is expected to be 16.5% over the same period.

Bristol population growth (to 2039)23.3%
England population growth (to 2039)16.5%

The local Council predicts that Bristol’s population will hit 500,000 by mid-2027.

Ethnicitiy in Bristol

Bristol is an ethnically diverse city. According to the city council, in 2016 more than one in five Bristolians (22%) were non-white. This is more than double the number of non-white Bristolians in 2001 (12%).

According to the 2011 census (bear in mind that the figures will be different to those in the paragraph above, which are from 2016 – five years later) other major ethnic groups in Bristol are: White (84.0%), Black (6.0%), Asian (5.5%) and Mixed Ethnic Groups (3.6%).

Mixed Ethnic Groups3.6%

Bristol’s White population can be further broken down into: White British (77.9%), White Other (5.1%), White Irish (0.9%) and White Gypsy/Irish Traveller (0.1%).

Bristol’s Black population can be further broken down into: Black African (2.8%), Black Caribbean 1.6%) and Black Other (1.6%).

Bristol’s Asian population can be further broken down into Pakistani (1.6%), Indian (1.5%), Chinese (0.9%) and Bangladeshi (0.5%).

Bristol’s black and minority ethnic population is more likely to live in the centre and north east of the city.

Bristol languages

According to the 2011 census, at least 91 languages are spoken in Bristol. The city’s status as a student city accounts for at least some of this diversity.

English is by far the most commonly spoken language – 91% of Bristolians speak English as their main language. Of those whose main language is not English, only 1.5% cannot speak the language well or at all.


The most commonly spoken languages in Bristol other than English are Polish (1.5%) and Somali (1.2%).

Religion in Bristol

Bristol is less religious than the UK as a whole. The 2011 census reported that 45.5% of people living in Bristol were either not religious or did not state their religion. This compares to a UK-wide figure of 32.8%.

No religion/not stated45.5%

Christianity is the largest single religion in Bristol, with 47.8% of respondents reporting that they were Christian. Islam is the only other religion followed by more than 1% of the population of Bristol – 5.1% reported that they were Muslim.

Bristol population density

At the time of the 2011 census, the population density of Bristol was recorded at 4,022 people per square kilometre.

Bristol population by year

Year Population Year Population
1801 68,944 1921 367,831
1811 83,922 1931 384,204
1821 99,151 1941 402,839
1831 120,789 1951 422,399
1841 144,803 1961 425,214
1851 159,945 1971 428,089
1861 194,229 1981 384,83
1871 228,513 1991 396,559
1881 262,797 2001 380,615
1891 297,525 2011 428,100
1901 323,698 2016 449,300
1911 352,178

About Bristol

As well as being a city, Bristol is also a county in its own right, and a unitary authority. The city is also one of the ten self-declared core cities in the UK.

Bristol is located on the Severn Estuary, with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean to the West and, across land, London to the West. It became one of England’s major trading and port cities and was a major starting point for the exploration and colonisation of North America. The city also has a less salubrious history and, in the 18th century, was a major hub for slave trading.

Today Bristol’s economy focuses on the finance, media and service industries. It also has a strong presence in the aerospace and defence industries in the UK.


Unless otherwise noted, data in this article is drawn from a Bristol City Council report, or the British Office of National Statistics.

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