The People in the UK
The UK is home to more than 65 million people comprising of various communities and cultures. Most live in the populated cosmopolitan cities that include London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Others live in the small country towns and villages. While English is the common language, accents differ between regions and people tend to speak the local dialect. The English, Scots, Welsh and Irish generally come into our minds when we think about the British people. However, the UK is also home to different ethnicities from various parts of the world including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. You will also hear various foreign languages spoken in areas where many ethnic communities live.
England dominates the country’s population with 82 percent of the people residing here. Many perceive the English as conservative but are generally approachable and tolerant towards others. The English are used to foreign visitors and therefore can expect them to be friendly and welcoming. Most will make an effort to answer questions or assist a stranger requesting assistance. England has a large and diverse ethnic population living mainly in the cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bradford. Therefore, expect to experience other cultures and languages spoken though the English culture and language remain dominant.
Scotland has the second largest population with 9 percent of the UK’s population. Most live in the cities and towns between the Highlands in the north and Southern Uplands in the south. The people of Scotland have a rich culture that is distinct from the rest of the UK. They have a strong regional identity and nationalistic pride and prefer to call themselves Scots or Scottish rather than British. However, you will find most Scots to be friendly with a sense of humour. Outsiders often associate the Scots with tartan kilts, bagpipes, shortbread and haggis (type of sausage) but also renowned for their achievements in the arts and sciences.
Wales has the third largest population in the UK accounting for 6% of the country’s residents. The Welsh belong to a Celtic community who settled in the western half of the UK mainland nearly 10,000 years ago. Today, many live in the industrial areas of South Wales including the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and New Port while others reside in the northeastern region namely Wrexham. Wales is the stronghold of Celtic culture with its own distinct language, ancient mythology, folk music and Welsh literature. A matter of fact, Welsh is the official language of Wales besides English and taught in local schools.
Northern Ireland accounts for just 3% of the UK’s population. The people call themselves Irish or Northern Irish with 53% associating themselves as Protestant Christians and 44% as Catholics. Locals are conscious of the divide between Protestants and Catholics such as political association based on religion and most towns and villages are either majority Protestant or Catholic. However, visitors to Northern Ireland will find the locals to be warm, friendly and welcoming. The Irish are famous for their traditional music often accompanied by musical instruments such as bodhrám (drum made from goatskin), pipes, flutes and fiddles.
The Crown Dependencies namely the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey) are associated but not part of the UK with their own governments, laws and manage their own affairs. Manx was once the language of the Isle of Man but English is now the main language though there is still a strong Celtic culture. The Norman language (a French dialect) was once the language of the Channel Islands but Anglicisation since the 19th century has made English the main language though influences of Norman French culture are evident.
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