Population of Scotland 2024

The population of Scotland is 5,463,300. This figure is from the latest census in Scotland.

Key facts

With its population of 5,463,300, Scotland is the second largest of the four countries which make up the United Kingdom. It makes up 8.2% of the total UK population.

If Scotland were an independent country it would be the 29 largest country by population in Europe. It is roughly comparable in population size to Denmark and Norway.

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland with a population of 632,350, followed by Edinburgh with a population of 506,520.

Read on for more information about the demographics of Scotland.

Scotland Population Growth

When the kingdom of Scotland joined with the kingdom of England in 1707 to form the United Kingdom the population of Scotland was about 1 million people.

From 1801 we have detailed data about how many people live in Scotland because a census has been held every decade. As you can see from the chart below, the population grew rapidly from 1.6 million people in 1801 to 4.4 million a century later in 1801.

Population growth stagnated during the 20th century. It even declined slightly in the is 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, falling from a high of 5,229,000 in 1971 to a low of 5,062,000 in 2001.

Economic prosperity and increased confidence has seen Scotland’s population returned to steady, but still relatively slow, growth again in the 21st-century.

Between the 2011 and 2022 censuses, the population of Scotland increased by 141,200 people. This growth of 2.7% is half the rate of the previous (2001-2011) period, where growth averaged 5%.

The table below records the population of Scotland at the time of the census from 1801 onwards. No census was carried out in 1941 because of the Second World War, so data has been added from the 1939 National Register of the Civilian Population.

The 2021 census was delayed by a year because of Covid-19 and carried out in 2022.

Table of the population of Scotland by census year (1801-2021)

Largest cities in Scotland

Glasgow (population: 632,350) is the largest city in Scotland. Edinburgh (population: 506,520), which is the capital city of Scotland, is only the second largest city.

There are two other cities with a population of more than 100,000. They are Aberdeen (population 198,590) and Dundee (148,210).

The table below lists the 10 largest cities and towns in Scotland. Data is drawn from the 2020 mid-year population estimates published by National Records Scotland.

City namePopulationCity/Town
East Kilbride75,310Town
Table listing the ten largest settlements (cities and towns) in Scotland

The greater Glasgow urban area, which includes towns such as Paisley, Hamilton, Airdrie and Motherwell, has a population of 1.2 million people.

The wider urban area around Edinburgh, known as the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region, is slightly larger with a population of 1.3 million people.

Scotland Ethnicity

White is the largest single ethnic group in Scotland, comprising 96.02% of the population. Further to this 83.95% of people reported that they were White: Scottish. A further 7.88% reported that they were White: Other British.

Other major ethnic groups reported in the 2011 census were Asian (2.66%), African (0.56%), Mixed (0.37%), Other (0.27%) and Caribbean or Black (0.12%).

The chart below shows all groups with more than 0.5% of population




Scotland is less ethnically diverse than the UK as a whole. Across the entire United Kingdom 13% of people reported in the 2011 census but they were not White. In Scotland only 4% of people reported that they were not White.

National Identity in Scotland

Unsurprisingly for a country which recently held a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom and which, in the light of the UK decision to leave the European Union, is considering a second independence referendum, almost two thirds of people report that their main national identity is Scottish.

Scottish only62%

Scottish and British18%

British only8%

In the latest census 62% of people said their identity was Scottish only. A further 18% reported that their identity was Scottish and British, while 8% reported that their identity was British only.


Christianity is the largest religion in Scotland.


No religion36.7%

Religion not stated


Just over half (53.8%) of respondents in the 2011 census reported that they were Christian. This represents a decline of 12% since 2001 and matches the pattern seen across the rest of the UK.

The largest Christian denomination in Scotland is Church of Scotland, with 32.4% of the population. This is followed by Roman Catholic (15.9%) and other Christian (5.5%).

The number of people who reported that they have no religion increased from 27.6% in 2001 to 36.7% in 2011. A further 7.0% did not state their religion in their census return.

The second largest religion in Scotland after Christianity is Islam, which is followed by 1.4% of people in Scotland. No other religion is followed by more than 0.3% of people.


English is the most commonly spoken language in Scotland. 93% of people reported that English was the language they spoke at home, followed by 1% who spoke Polish at home, and 0.2% who used British sign language at home.



People were asked in the 2011 census whether they could speak Scots or Gaelic. In total 38% of people reported that they could speak, read, write or understand Scots, and 1.1% of people reported that they could speak Gaelic. The census does not record respondents’ level of fluency.



Technically English is not an official language in either the United Kingdom, England or Scotland. However Scots and Scottish Gaelic are both recognised as regional languages in Scotland. British sign language is also officially recognised.

Further reading

More information about Scotland demographics can be found at the Scotland Census website and at National Records Scotland.

You can also visit our detailed article about the population of the United Kingdom for information about the UK as a whole and how Scotland compares to other parts of the UK.

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