The population of Wales is 3,107,500. This is the population recorded in the 2021 census.
The population of Wales has grown by 44,000 (1.4%) since the previous census in 2011, when it was 3,063,4561. This growth rate was lower than that of England (6.5%), Northern Ireland (5.0%), and Scotland (3.4%) over the same period.
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Largest cities and towns in Wales
Cardiff is the largest city in Wales (370,800). It also has the highest population density (2,600 people per square kilometre) of any Welsh town or city.
The table below lists the ten largest built up areas (cities, towns or villages) in Wales at the time of the 2021 census. Note, the populations listed may be different to those of the ‘city proper’ contained within the boundaries of the Built Up Area.
There are three major population centres in Wales – Cardiff, Newport and Swansea They are followed by a number of mid-sized population centres, such as Wrexham, Bridgend and Llanelli.
|Rank||City / Town||Population|
|9||Rhyl / Prestatyn||46,267|
Population by Year
Between the first census in 1801 and the most recent in 2021, the population of Wales has grown from 587,128 to 3,107,500.
Wales’ population reached the milestone of 1 million people in 1841. 60 years later, in 1901, it passed 2 million people for the first time. And 110 years later, it passed 3 million people in 2011.
It’s population has grown between every census except once – between 1921 and 1931, where it fell from 2.6 million to 2.5 million. It may well also have fallen slightly between 1931 and 1941 or between 1941 and 1951, but we don’t have accurate data to be sure, as the 1941 census was not held because of the Second World War.
Note: there was no census in 1941 because of the second world war.
The 2021 Census provides a comprehensive picture of the ethnic demographics in Wales.
The majority of the 3.1 million people in Wales (93.8% of the population) report that they are White. This is a slight decrease from 2011, where the percentage was 95.6%. 90.6% identified as “White: Welsh, English, Scottish, Northern Irish or British”.
The second largest ethnic group in Wales is “Asian, Asian Welsh or Asian British”. in the 2021 census 89,000 people (2.9% of the population) said that they fit within this category, an increase from 2.3% in 20111.
The “Mixed or multiple ethnic groups” category saw a significant increase, with 49,000 people identifying within this category (1.6% of the population), up from 1.0% in 20111.
Those who identified themselves as “Black, Black Welsh, Black British, Caribbean or African” also saw a significant increase. The 28,000 people (0.9% of population) in this group in 2021 was a 50% increase from the 0.6% of population in 2011.
Finally, 26,000 people identified that they considered themselves to be in the ‘Other ethnic group” category. This is 0.9% of the population, up from 0.5% in 2011.
Here’s a table breaking down the population of Wales by ethnic group:
|Asian, Asian Welsh or Asian British||89,000||2.9%|
|Mixed or Multiple Ethnic Groups||49,000||1.6%|
|Black, Black Welsh, Black British, Caribbean or African||28,000||0.9%|
|Other Ethnic Group||26,000||0.9%|
Households in Wales
The census also revealed that there were more people than ever before in the older age groups. The proportion of the population who were aged 65 years and over was 21.3% (up from 18.4% in 2011).
There were 1,586,600 women (51.1% of the population) and 1,521,000 men (48.9%) in Wales. The sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) was 95.9, slightly lower than in 2011 (96.2).
The number of households with at least one usual resident in Wales on Census Day was 1,347,1001. This is an increase of 44,400 (3.4%) since 2011, when there were 1,302,676 households.
The average household size was 2.3 people per household, unchanged from 2011. The most common household type was one-person households (30.8% of all households), followed by married or civil partner couple households (28.6%).
Merthyr Tydfil had the highest proportion of one-person households (35.7%), while Monmouthshire had the highest proportion of married or civil partner couple households (34.4%).
About the 2021 census in Wales
The census results provide a snapshot of the population and households in Wales at a point in time. They are based on a near-complete count of all usual residents and households in Wales on Census Day.
The census results are essential for a wide range of activities, including planning public services, allocating resources, and monitoring progress towards national and local targets. They also provide a useful source of information to help people understand the characteristics and needs of the population and households in Wales.