Isle of Wight Population 2021

The Isle of Wight population (2021) is 142,296.

If we exclude the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Wight is the second largest island by population in the UK, after Portsea Island just across the water in Portsmouth.

The Isle of Wight is located just off the south coast of England, in the English Channel. It is separated from the English mainland by the Solent. It is a ceremonial county in England, and a unitary authority area.

The Isle of Wight is the 3rd smallest county in England and the 153rd largest of 314 English district authorities.

There are nine major towns on the Isle of Wight. The largest is Ryde (population 32,072).

Isle of Wight population growth

At the time of the 1801 census, the Isle of Wight had a population of just 22,097 people.

Since then, the population has steadily grown, increasing between almost every census. The only years in which the population has fallen are between 1921 and 1931, when the population fell from 94,666 to 88,454.

The Isle of Wight population has been steadily growing again since then and between 2001 and 2011 it grew from 124,602 to 132,741.

The Isle of Wight Council estimates that the population will increase to 171,200 by 2033.

The table below shows the population of the Isle of Wight at the time of every census since 1801.

YearPopulation
180122,097 
181125,938 
182131,616 
183135,431 
184142,550 
185150,324 
186155,362 
1871n/a
188173,633 
189178,672 
1901n/a
191188,186 
192194,666 
193188,454 
1941n/a
195195,625 
196195,752 
1971109,510 
1981111,261 
1991124,602 
2001132,741 
2011138,265 

Largest towns on the Isle of Wight

There are nine major towns on the Isle of Wight. The largest is Ryde, with a population of 32,072 in 2011.

Newport (not to be confused with the city of Newport in Wales), the administrative capital of the island is next largest, with a population of 25,496. Newport is the only major town on the island to be inland and, as such, acts as a geographical hub for the island.

Other towns with a population of more than 10,000 people are Sandown (population 12,302) and Cowes (population 10,405).

There are no cities on the Isle of Wight. The nearest cities are Portsmouth and Southampton, both of which are on the English Mainland.

This table lists the largest towns on the Isle of Wight.

TownPopulation
Ryde32072
Newport25496
Sandown12302
Cowes10405
Shanklin9072
East Cowes7010
Ventnor5976
Brading1800
Yarmouth865

Isle of Wight demographics

Population Density

The Isle of Wight population density is 372 people per km2 or 960 people per square mile. This is based on the mid-2019 population estimate of 141,538 people living in an island with an area of 384 km2 or 148 square miles.

Population by age

The Isle of Wight has a relatively high proportion of older people compared to working age adults and children.

According to mid-2018 estimates, 27.8% of people on the Isle of Wight are aged 65 or over, compared to 19.3% across the South East of England and 18.2% across England as a whole.

At the other end of the scale, 14.6% of people living on the Isle of Wight are aged 0-14, compared to 18.1% across the South East and rest of England.

The number of people aged 15-64 is also lower on the Isle of Wight than the national average – 57.6% on the island compared to 62.6% across the South East and 63.7% across England.

This would ordinarily suggest that the population was about to decline, but is largely because the island is seen as an attractive place to retire, and thus many people move to the Isle of Wight later in life.

This internal migration has an impact on local services – for example, more focus needs to be given to healthcare.

Ethnicity

The vast majority of people on the Isle of Wight are White. In the 2011 census, 94.8% of people were White British, a fall of 2% from the 2001 census. 

The non-white population increased significantly to 2.7% in 2011, from 1.3% in 2001.

Religion

The largest single religion on the Isle of Wight is Christianity. In 2011, 60.5% of people reported that they were Christian. This is a significant drop from 2001, though, where 73.7% of people reported that they were Christian.

This change is largely because of a move away from religion generally, rather than changes due to migration. During the same period (2001 to 2011) the number of people reporting that they were affiliated to no religion increased from 17.3% to 26.9%.

Other religions on the island are Muslim (0.4%), Buddhist (0.3%) and Hindu (0.2%).

Sources

Unless otherwise noted, data is from the latest ONS population estimates. These are released mid-way through each year.

More information can also be found on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for the Isle of Wight.