Population of Edinburgh 2023

Latest data puts population of Edinburgh at 488,050.

Edinburgh today is the second largest city in Scotland after Glasgow, and has been the capital city of Scotland since the 15th century.

(For more information read our articles about the population of Scotland and about the population of the UK.)

Population growth in Edinburgh

The first census of the population of Edinburgh was carried out in 1592 by the Edinburgh Presbytery. It reported that Edinburgh’s population at the time was 8,003 people.

By 1801, at the start of the Industrial Revolution, the number of people living in Edinburgh was 82,560. Over the course of the 19th century the city’s population almost quintupled, rising to 394,898 by 1901.

The city’s population grew slowly but steadily through most of the 20th century, although it did dip slightly from a high of 466,761 in 1951 to just 418,748 1991.

Renewed confidence in Scotland plus the impact of devolution has brought renewed growth to Scotland’s capital city.

The number of people living in Scotland’s capital city is soon expected to pass 500,000, and some experts believe that Edinburgh could overtake Glasgow to become the largest city in Scotland within 25 years.

Ethnicity in Edinburgh

As with all cities in Scotland the largest single ethnic group in Edinburgh is White. In total at the time of the 2011 census 91.7% of people in Edinburgh were White.

White: Scottish was the largest subgroup. A total of 70.2% of people were White Scottish in 2011. A further 11.7% were Other British, 7.9% were Other White and 1.8% were Irish.


The largest non-White ethnic groups in Edinburgh were Asian (5.5%), African (0.9%), Mixed (0.8%), Other Non White (0.8%) and Caribbean / Black (0.2%).

In total, 8.2% of Edinburgh’s population reported that they were Non-White in the 2011 census. This percentage has more than doubled from 4.0% at the time of the 2001 census.

Religion in Edinburgh

The 2011 census showed that the largest single group in Edinburgh is people who have no religion. In total 44.8% of people in Edinburgh reported that they had no religion. A further 7.1% did not state their religion.

No religion44.8%

Christianity is the largest religious group in Edinburgh. In 2011 43.3% of people reported that they were Christian. Church of Scotland is the largest Christian denomination with 24.3% of the population, followed by Roman Catholic (12.1%) and other Christian denominations (6.9%).

The next largest religious group in Edinburgh is Islam. People who reported that they were Muslim made at 2.6% of the population of Edinburgh.

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