Edinburgh Population 2017

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and has been since the 14th century. Located in Lothian on the shore of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh has an estimated population of 489,000, which makes it the second most populous city in Scotland and the 7th in the United Kingdom.

Edinburgh has a population density of 1,830 people per square kilometer (4,730 per square mile) in the city proper. The larger urban population is estimated at 820,000.

Edinburgh Demographics

Edinburgh has a young population with almost 20% of its population in their 20s. This is exceeded only by Aberdeen. 15% of the population are in their 30s, which is the highest percentage in Scotland.

At the 2011 UK census, the population of Edinburgh was:

  • White: 91.7%
  • Asian: 5.5%
  • Black: 1.4%
  • Christian: 43.0%
  • Muslim: 2.6%

The percentage of people born in the UK fell from 92% in 2001 to 84% in 2011, while those born outside of Scotland fell from 78% to 70% during the same time. Of those born in the UK, 83% were born in Scotland and 14% were born in England.

The countries accounting for the most Edinburgh residents born overseas are: Poland (2.7%), Republic of Ireland (8,600), China (8,000), India (6,500), Pakistan (5,900), United States (3,700), Germany (3,500), Australia (2,000), France (2,000), Spain (2,000), South African (1,800) and Canada (1,800). Interestingly, 47% of the non-UK born population in the city are of European origin. This is the highest percentage of any UK city.

About 8% of the population is non-white, which is up from 4% in 2001. The largest non-white group are Asian, with Chinese being the largest subgroup account for 1.7% of the total population of Edinburgh. The Indian population accounts for 1.4% of the population while Pakistanis are about 1.2% of Edinburgh's population. Edinburgh also has the highest number and percentage of Bangladeshis in Scotland at 0.3% of the total population. Except for Inner London, Edinburgh has the highest number of people from the United States than any other UK city.

Edinburgh History

Edinburgh has been inhabited since at least c. 8500 BC. When the Romans arrived in the area at the end of the 1st century AD, they found a Celtic Britonnic tribe named Votadini. Some time before the 7th century AD, the Gododdin, assumed to be descendants of the Votadini, built a hill fort. The stronghold was eventually attacked and control passed to the Angles, who held control until the 10th century when the fortress fell to the Scots.

The royal burgh was founded in the 12th century by King David I. By the middle of the 14th century, it was described as capital of Scotland, although it is not known exactly when it was founded or when it became the capital.

In the early 17th century, King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English thrown and united England and Scotland, although Scotland remained a separate kingdom at this time. The town at this point was still defined by defensive walls, but the population kept growing to the point that homes became very tall, with buildings up to 11 stories or more as the beginning of modern-day skyscrapers.

By the 18th century, Edinburgh was one of the most densely populated and unsanitary towns in all of Europe, with social classes sharing the same space and same buildings. The city became the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment and known as an intellectual center, earning the nickname "Athens of the North."

Through the 19th century, the city's distilling, brewing and printing industries continued to grow, along with engineering and rubber works. The city became the largest in Scotland by 1821 and much of it was deteriorating into slums before a revival and slum clearance.

In 1592, the population of Edinburgh was just over 8,000. The population grew quickly in the 18th and 19th centuries reaching 136,000 in 1831, mostly from residents migrating from rural areas to the city. This growing population led to poor sanitary conditions and outbreaks of cholera.

Edinburgh Population Growth

Edinburgh is preparing for a population boom that will cause its population to soar to 600,000 due to the highest predicted population growth in Scotland over the next twenty years. This growth will put a great deal of strain on the city's existing housing and public services unless more is done.

Forecasts have the number of people aged 85 and older doubling in Edinburgh by 2034, while births are expected to outpace deaths by at least 900 per year through 2035. In 2010, the number of deaths in the city were the lowest on record while births hit the highest recorded level. The greatest growth will be among 35-44 year olds, as the city still has a very young population.

This growth will cause Edinburgh to rival Glasgow in size, which will grow at just half the pace.

Edinburgh Population in 2018Source: No machine-readable author provided. Maccoinnich~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims).

Edinburgh Population Data (Urban Area)

Year Population Growth Rate (%) Growth
2030567,0005.00%27,000
2025540,0005.06%26,000
2020514,0002.39%12,000
2017502,0001.41%7,000
2015495,0003.13%15,000
2010480,0003.00%14,000
2005466,0003.33%15,000
2000451,0004.16%18,000
1995433,0003.34%14,000
1990419,000-0.24%-1,000
1985420,000-0.71%-3,000
1980423,000-4.30%-19,000
1975442,000-3.70%-17,000
1970459,000-0.65%-3,000
1965462,000-0.43%-2,000
1960464,0001.09%5,000
1955459,0001.32%6,000
1950453,0000.00%0
Edinburgh Population Growth

Edinburgh's 2017 population is now estimated at 502,000. In 1950, the population of Edinburgh was 453,000. Edinburgh has grown by 7,000 in the last year, which represents a 1.41% change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Edinburgh, which typically includes Edinburgh's population in addition to adjacent suburban areas.

Data Sources
  1. National Records of Scotland - Scotland data and statistics
  2. Scotland's Census - Census records and data for Scotland
  3. National Records of Scotland - Edinburgh - City of Edinburgh demographic fact sheet
  4. World Urbanization Prospects - United Nations population estimates and projections of major Urban Agglomerations