The 2021 census showed that the population of England is 56,489,800.
England is the largest of four countries which make up the United Kingdom. England makes up 84% of the total population of the United Kingdom. It is ten times as large as the next largest country (Scotland: population 5.46 million) in the UK.
If England were an independent country it would be the six largest in Europe, and the fourth largest in the EU, after Italy. It would also be the 25th largest country in the world, with a population just below that of South Africa.
England, as part of the UK, does not have its own independent government. Because of this, technically, it does not have a capital city. However London is the largest city in England and is commonly regarded as its de facto capital city.
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Population growth in England
Population growth in England is higher than the UK average. Between 2004 and 2014, the population of England grew at an average annual rate of 0.79%, slightly higher than the 0.75% growth rate in the rest of the UK.
For comparison, the rate of population growth in Wales was 0.45% per annum, in Scotland it was 0.51% and in Northern Ireland it was 0.71%.
Within England, London is the most rapidly growing area. Its annual population growth rate of 1.4% per year is more than double the growth rate in the rest of England, and nearly five times as much as the rate in North-East England which was just 0.3% per annum. Population growth rates are also high in the areas surrounding London – for example 0.89% in the East of England and 0.88% in the South-East of England.
The tables below show the population of England at key dates through its history. The first table shows the population of England between 1086 and 1700, just before the kingdom of England and the kingdom of Scotland merged in 1707 to form the United Kingdom. The second table shows the population of England (not the UK as a whole), as recorded in every census since 1801.
As you can see from the two tables the population of England grew steadily between 1086 and 1348. Then, amidst the terrors of the Black Death, a plague which swept Europe, England’s population was decimated. In just three years England’s population was almost halved. In the difficult century that followed, England’s population fell by a further quarter, to a low of 1.9 million in 1450.
England’s population began to recover under the Tudors and the country has seen steady, almost uninterrupted, population growth since the end of the 15th century.
Largest cities in England
London is the largest city in England, the United Kingdom, and before Brexit used to be the largest city in the European Union. It is also the third largest city in Europe, after Istanbul and Moscow, and the 21st largest city in the world today. In 2015 the population of Greater London was 8,673,713.
There is one other city in England that is home to more than 1 million people. In 2015 Birmingham’s population was 1,111,307.
There are a further four cities with a population of over 500,000 people. They are Leeds (population: 774,060), Sheffield (population: 569,737), Bradford (population: 531,176), and Manchester (population: 530,292).
This section contains a brief overview of key English demographics. More detailed information can be found in our comprehensive article on the UK population.
England is slightly more diverse than the rest of the UK. Data from the 2011 census shows that 85.4% of the population England is White. This compares with 87.1% across the UK as a whole.
Other major groups in England are Asian (7.8%), Black (3.5%), British mixed (2.3%), and Other (1.0%)
As with most countries, English cities are generally more diverse than other parts of the country.
English is the most commonly spoken main language in England. The 2011 census reported that 92.02% of people in England aged three or over spoke English as their main language.
Polish is the only other language spoken by more than 1% of the UK population – in 2011 it was the main language of 1.04% of people in England.
Christianity is the largest single religious group in England although, according to the census reports of 2001 and 2011, the number of Christians has declined significantly in recent years. In 2001, 71.74% of people reported that they were Christian but, by 2011, this had fallen to 59.38% of people – a drop of just over 12%.
Most of this change is as a result of a large increase in the number of people who reported that they have no religion. The number of people in this category increased by 10% between the two censuses, from 14.59% in 2001 to 24.74% in 2011.
England has also seen an increase in the people who report they are Muslims – from 3.10% in 2001 to 5.02% in 2011. Other religions have also seen increases over the past decade.