The British diaspora consists of people of British ancestry (and their descendants) who emigrated from the United Kingdom. The largest proportional concentrations of people of self-identified British descent in the world outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories occur in New Zealand (59%),[failed verification] Australia (45%), Canada (30.6%), the United States (11%) and parts of the Caribbean. Those who do claim British ancestry form a sub-set of those who could claim British ancestry; the British diaspora includes about 200 million people worldwide.
|Over 120 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
(81.9% of population)
|New Zealand||71,391 Self-identified |
(up to 59.0% of population)[failed verification]
(45.4% of population)
(30.6% of population)
(10.7% of population)
Also: Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster Scots, Cornish, Manx, British Sign Language
|Predominantly Christianity (Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic etc.);Other|
History of British diaspora
Up to the 19th century
After the Age of Discovery, the various peoples of the British Isles, and especially the English, were among the earliest and by far the largest communities to emigrate out of Europe. Indeed, the British Empire's expansion during the first half of the 19th century saw an extraordinary dispersion of the British people, with particular concentrations in Australasia and North America.
The British Empire was "built on waves of migration overseas by British people", who left Great Britain, later the United Kingdom, and reached across the globe and permanently affected population structures in three continents. As a result of the British colonisation of the Americas, what became the United States was "easily the greatest single destination of emigrant British", but in what would become the Commonwealth of Australia the British experienced a birth rate higher than anything seen before, which together with continuing British immigration resulted in a huge outnumbering of indigenous Australians.
In colonies such as Southern Rhodesia, British Hong Kong, Singapore, Jamaica, Barbados, British East Africa, and the Cape Colony, permanently resident British communities were established, and while never more than a numerical minority, these Britons exercised a dominant influence upon the culture and politics of those lands. In Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, people of British origin came to constitute the majority of the population, contributing to these states becoming integral to the Anglosphere.
The British not only emigrated to parts of the British Empire, but also settled in large numbers in parts of the Americas, particularly in the United States and in sizeable numbers in Mexico, Chile and Argentina.
The United Kingdom census, 1861 estimated the number of overseas British to be around 2.5 million. However, it concluded that most of these were "not conventional settlers" but rather "travellers, merchants, professionals, and military personnel". By 1890, there were over 1.5 million further British-born people living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
British diaspora today
According to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, there were 13.1 million British nationals living abroad in 2004–05. These figures are taken from the consular annual returns from overseas posts. There is no requirement for UK citizens to register with British missions overseas, so these figures are therefore based on the most reliable information that can be obtained, e.g. from host government official statistics.
A 2006 publication from the Institute for Public Policy Research estimated that 5.5 million British-born people lived outside the United Kingdom.
In terms of outbound expatriation, in 2009, the United Kingdom had the most expatriates among developed OECD countries, with more than three million British living abroad, a figure followed by Germany and Italy. On an annual basis, emigration from Britain has stood at about 400,000 per year for the past 10 years.
Living abroad as an expatriate can affect certain rights. In particular:
- British expatriates can only vote in general elections if they have been on a British electoral register at some point in the past 15 years. Otherwise, they are not eligible to vote.
- The British Mental Health Act 1983 rules that persons resident abroad do not qualify as "nearest relative" of a person who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
British people by country
List of countries and territories by population of self-reported British ancestry
|Country or territory||British ancestry||% of population|
|New Zealand[failed verification]||2,425,278||59%|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha||1,408||25%|
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimates
This article needs to be updated. (March 2015)
In 2006, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, published a report on the British diaspora, entitled Brits Abroad. The following table lists the estimated number of British people (defined as people who are British Subjects, such as British citizen, British National Overseas or British Overseas Citizen) living overseas in countries with more than 100 British people, according to the IPPR's report:
|1||Australia||1,300,000||Asia Pacific||Anglo-Celtic Australian, Cornish Australian, English Australian, Scottish Australian, Welsh Australian|
|2||Spain||761,000||Europe||Britons in Spain|
|3||United States||678,000||North America||British American, Cornish American, English American, Welsh American, Scottish American, Scotch-Irish American|
|4||Canada||603,000||North America||English Canadian, Scottish Canadian, Welsh Canadian, Cornish Canadian|
|7||New Zealand||215,000||Asia Pacific||British New Zealander, Scottish New Zealander|
|8||South Africa||212,000||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|9||France||200,000||Europe||Britons in France|
|10||Germany||115,000||Europe||British migration to Germany|
|13||UAE||55,000||Mid East||Britons in the United Arab Emirates|
|14||Pakistan||47,000||Asia||Britons in Pakistan|
|15||Singapore||45,000||Asia Pacific||Eurasians in Singapore|
|20||China (including Hong Kong)||36,000note||Asia Pacific||Britons in China, Britons in Hong Kong, Shanghailander|
|21||Turkey||34,000||Mid East||Britons in Turkey|
|22||Kenya||29,000||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|25||Saudi Arabia||26,000||Mid East|
|28||Japan||23,000||Asia Pacific||Britons in Japan|
|31||Nigeria||16,000||Africa||British Nigerian, British diaspora in Africa|
|33||Egypt||14,000||Africa||Britons in Egypt|
|36||Trinidad and Tobago||11,000||Caribbean|
|37||Brazil||11,000 (expatriates)||South America||English Brazilian, Scottish Brazilian|
|39||Gaza & West Bank||11,000||Mid East|
|40||Indonesia||11,000||Asia Pacific||Indo people|
|44||Mexico||8,500||North America||British Mexican|
|46||Argentina||8,300||South America||English Argentine, Welsh Argentine, Scottish Argentine|
|49||Malawi||7,400||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|56||Zimbabwe||6,100||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|58||Ghana||5,900||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|61||Tanzania||5,500||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|63||Chile||5,200||South America||British Chilean, English Chilean, Scottish Chilean, Welsh Chilean|
|65||Botswana||5,000||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|66||Costa Rica||4,800||North America|
|67||Peru||4,600||South America||British Peruvian|
|69||Sri Lanka||4,400||Asia||Burgher people|
|76||South Korea||3,400||Asia Pacific|
|78||Antigua and Barbuda||2,800||Caribbean|
|82||Uganda||2,500||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|101||Gambia||1,500||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|110||British Virgin Islands||1,000||Caribbean|
|114||Papua New Guinea||940||Asia Pacific|
|116||Falkland Islands||930||South America||Falkland Islanders|
|120||St Kitts & Nevis||880||Caribbean|
|133||Myanmar (Burma)||460||Asia Pacific||Anglo-Burmese|
|134||Nicaragua||410||North America||English settlement in Nicaragua|
|135||El Salvador||390||North America|
|144||Madagascar||300||Africa||Britons in Madagascar|
|-||Turks & Caicos||<100||Caribbean|
|-||US Virgin Islands||<100||Caribbean|
|-||Central African Republic||<100||Africa|
|-||Cook Islands||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||French Polynesia||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||New Caledonia||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||Norfolk Island||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||North Korea||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||Solomon Islands||<100||Asia Pacific|
^ Note: A different estimate puts China (incl. Hong Kong) ahead with a population of 3,750,000 British citizens, most of which are those in Hong Kong who have continued to possess British nationality, particularly the British nationals (overseas) status, which numbered 3.4 million, through their connection with the former crown colony (see British nationality and Hong Kong for further details).
- Richards, Eric (2004). Britannia's Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland Since 1600. A&C Black. p. 255. ISBN 9781852854416.
- British ethnicity
- 2006 Census Data
- "Cultural Diversity". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- Canada Census
- "Selected social characteristics in the United States: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- 2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in England and Wales, Accessed 13 June 2014
- Statistics New Zealand (4 February 2009), QuickStats About Culture and Identity, stats.govt.nz, archived from the original on 19 February 2008, retrieved 18 May 2009
- "CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN AUSTRALIA, 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
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Cross, John A. (2017). "British Landscapes in America". Ethnic Landscapes of America. Cham, Zug: Springer. p. 200. ISBN 9783319540092. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
The U.S. Census ancestry data indicates the first and second ancestry reported on the census returns. Because many individuals have multiple ancestries - and the ethnic mixing of the population increases each generation - many persons who are partly of English or Irish ancestry may not report it. [...] In addition, the 5 year 2010-14 American Community Survey showed 22,365,250 persons indicting American ancestry, disproportionately overrepresented in the Upland South, a region whose settlement history is largely British. Thus, in all reality, the figures [...] underestimate the population that is of British ancestry [...].
Richards, Eric (2004). Britannia's Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland Since 1600. London: A&C Black. p. 3-4. ISBN 9781852854416. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
[...] even the basic outline of the diaspora remains vague. It was never a controlled movement and it was mostly poorly documented. Migrants are always difficult to categorise and to count. [...] The scale of the modern British dispersion has been estimated at about 200 million, [...] or, counting those who can claim descent from British and Irish emigrants, more than three times the current population of the British Isles.
- "The other special relationship: the UAE and the UK - The National".
- Sriskandarajah, Dhananjayan; Drew, Catherine (2006). Brits Abroad: Mapping the scale and nature of British emigration. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. ISBN 1-86030-307-2.
- Ember 2004, p. 47.
- Marshall 2001, p. 254.
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- "British citizens living abroad - About my vote, produced by The Electoral Commission". Aboutmyvote.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Government of the Pitcairn Islands, Repopulation, retrieved 2 December 2018
- Falkland Islands Government, 2016 Census Report (PDF), stats.govt.nz, retrieved 2 December 2016
- "2016 Census QuickStats - Norfolk Island". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
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- "The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons put the size of the British expatriate community in Hong Kong at over 3 million". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- "The FCO had the figure for Hong Kong and China combined at 3,752,031 : Both figures cover all British nationals, including those who are not British citizens". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- "Lords Hansard, 22 March 2007". UK Parliament.