London Population 2017
To figure out how many people live in London, we can look at the most recent census. The census is taken every 10 years, with the last one completed on March 27th 2011. Based on the 2011 numbers, the population of London stands at 8,173,941.
London's population makes it the largest city in the United Kingdom. The second largest city in the UK - Birmingham - has a population of 1.1 million. London is also the largest city in the European Union and is more than twice as large as its nearest rival, Berlin.
Different definitions of London
Estimating London's population is made more complicated by the various ways of defining the city. Here are just a few of the ways of breaking down London's geography along with estimates of their population.
- City of London 11,700 (2010 estimate)
- Inner London 2,859,400 (2001)
- Greater London 7,172,036 (2001)
- London Metropolitan Area 12-18 million (number of residents depends on the definition you use)
Generally, throughout this article, we've used the term London for simplicity, but when we're referring to modern day London, we really mean Greater London.
London's Population History
Although there had been settlements in the area for centuries, London first became recognizable as a major population center during the Roman occupation of Britain. Londinium, as it was known, quickly became the capital of Rome's Britannia province, and by the 2nd century AD, Londinium was a thriving trade center with a population of around 60,000 people.
After the Romans withdrew, the settlement of Londinium was more or less abandoned in favor of Lundenwic, located a mile down the river. Lundenwic had a reduced population of around 10,000 people, and it's vulnerability to Viking raids eventually led to it being gradually moved back east to the old Londinium site to take advantage of the old Roman city walls.
From there, the city prospered and grew steadily again, reaching a population of 100,000 for the first time, somewhere around 1500 AD. As the British Empire grew, so did London's importance as one of the world's major trading cities, and shortly after 1800, London reached the 1,000,000 residents milestone for the first time.
Industrialization led to increased urbanization and this, combined with London's increasing prominence, led to some dramatic population increases. According to census records, the number of people living in London increased more than fivefold from 959,300 in 1801 to 5,572,012 in 1891. For much of the 19th century and the early 20th century, London was the largest city in the world.
The first half of the 20th century saw sustained and fairly rapid growth, and London's population reached its highest point in 1939. By the outbreak of the second world war, 8,615,245 people were living in London, although by then it had just lost its status as the largest city in the world to New York.
From the end of the World War II until the 1980s, London saw its population gradually decline, as the city lost its status as the hub of Empire and one of the world's greatest trading cities. By the time the 1981 census was taken, the number of people living in London had fallen to just 6,607,513, a decline of more than two million, or around 25%, in just four decades.
However, a population boom in the 1980s occurred, and increasing prosperity combined with increased immigration has once again resulted in an increase in population. Just 20 years later, the population had increased to 7,172,036 to be precise, per the 2001 census, and further increases are expected which should push the population past past 8 million, and possibly even to 9 million, by 2021. The current 2021 projection puts the London population at 9,221,300 according to the London Datastore.
Ethnicity in London
London as a city is considerably more diverse than the rest of the United Kingdom. Across England as a whole, 87.5% of the population is considered to be white, but in London that number falls to 69.7%. As detailed in the map below, the white proportion of London's population increases when traveling away from the city center.
The following table, compiled using 2009 data from statistics.gov.uk, provides details of the ethnicity of London residents compared to residents of England as a whole, not including the entire United Kingdom.
|Asian or Asian British||13.2%||6.0%|
|Black or Black British||10.1%||2.9%|
|Chinese or Other Ethnic Group||3.5%||1.6%|
If you take a look at the original source data, you can see more detail, as well as data for the population of the City of London. Although the population of London as a whole is more diverse than the rest of England, the much smaller City of London is actually much closer to the average for the rest of England (albiet, still more diverse than England).
London's diversity can also be seen in statistics for London residents' country of birth. Of the 8.17 million people living in London at the time of the 2011 census, 37% were born outside of the United Kingdom. The remaining two million people were born outside of the UK. The most common country of birth for London residents outside of the UK is India. According to the 2011 census, 262,247 people living in London were born in India.
Religion in London
London is also very diverse when it comes to religious beliefs. The latest data from the 2011 census recorded that 52.9% of Londoners considered themselves to be Christian, 13.5% considered themselves Muslim, 5.5% Hindu, 2% Jewish, 1.7% Sikh, 1.1% Buddhist and 0.6% other. A large proportion, 22.7% of respondents, stated that they followed no religion.