Portuguese in the United Kingdom

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Portuguese Britons
Miniature of Katherine of Aragon by Wencelaus Hollar.jpg
Catherine of Braganza - Lely 1663-65.jpg
Portrait of David Ricardo by Thomas Phillips.jpg
Grace Aguilar engraved portrait.jpg
Sam Mendes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2013.jpg
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Mia Rose (Singer).jpg
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Total population
Est. number of Britons of Portuguese origin
500,000 (2006)[1]
0.8% of the UK's population
3.0% of all Portuguese people
Regions with significant populations
London, East Anglia, South East England, Channel Islands, Bermuda
English, Portuguese
Roman Catholicism

The Portuguese in the United Kingdom (also known as Portuguese Britons or the British Portuguese Community) is a term that refers to British citizens and residents of the UK who are connected to the country of Portugal by birth, descent or citizenship.


History and settlement[edit]

The first Portuguese community in Britain was actually made up of people of secret Jewish descent (known as New Christians) who escaped persecution in Portugal from the year 1496 onwards. This led to the founding of a small secret Portuguese Jewish community in London. By 1550, there were around a hundred members of the Portuguese Jewish community in London. This centred on the Anes family who provided a physician to Queen Elizabeth. The Portuguese Jewish community of London suffered a setback in 1609 when they were officially expelled. However, there is evidence that at least some of them continued to live in London.

The greatest number of Portuguese, however, came to the UK in the 1960s and 1970s during the rule of Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. Prior to membership of the European Union in 1986, Portugal was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. The pressure on the land and limited opportunities in the manufacturing sector meant that there was often no alternative but looking for work abroad. During this period, many young men also emigrated to avoid military service, as Portugal waged a series of wars in an attempt to keep its African colonies of Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Many Portuguese people originated from their former overseas territories in Africa and Macau (see Macanese people) and former British territories in Guyana and Hong Kong.

International relations[edit]


The list below is of British and Portuguese town twinnings.



According to the 2011 UK Census, some 88,161 (an increase of 36,555 in 2001) were residing in the UK, including British born people of Portuguese descent; the total number of Britons of Portuguese origin is estimated at over 500,000.[1][2]

Population distribution[edit]

Mainland United Kingdom
There is an estimated 27,000 strong community in Lambeth alone and large numbers of first and second generations in Vauxhall, Harlesden and Camden Town. The countless cafés, restaurants and bars in Stockwell, otherwise known as Little Portugal, will be the focal point for most of the action. The largest static group is found in the Vauxhall area south of the Thames, a long-standing hub for the Portuguese community. There is also a minor Portuguese population and business establishments in the area of North Kensington. Outside London there is a wide spread of Portugal-born people; many arrive for the agricultural picking season and then return home. During the late 1990s, a slow trickle of Portuguese immigrants started to arrive in the town of Thetford, East Anglia. By 2004, the media were suggesting that there may be as many as 6,000 Portuguese-speakers in the Thetford area, where there are many Portuguese cafés, restaurants, delicatessens, etc. This figure would represent around 30% of the local population.[3]

Crown dependencies and overseas territories
The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey also have sizeable Portuguese populations, including many from Madeira. At the time of the 2001 census, around 7% of the population of Jersey - some 6,000 people - had been born in Portugal. It has been estimated that between 15% and 20% of Jersey's population are of Portuguese origin. In 2000, the Portuguese community in Guernsey was estimated to be around 3.3% of the population. Also worth noting is the fact that 9% (over 5,000 people) of the population of the British overseas territory Bermuda reported being of Portuguese descent (particularly from the Azores) on the 2000 census.

Out of the 36,402 Portuguese born people in the UK in 2001, 60% were in London – the most popular single area being Vauxhall. Three mostly agricultural areas predominate outside of the capital: the South West, South East and East of England. The census also showed that 50% of the increase in Portugal-born people between 1991 and 2001, was in the capital.


Portuguese is spoken as a mother tongue by large numbers of people who have settled in the UK, in a 2000 study of school children in London, Portuguese prevailed as the 14th most common language amongst them. Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth and Westminster are all noted for their large Portuguese-speaking communities, the majority of these speakers are Portuguese immigrants who work in the catering and hotels industry. There is also a sizeable community of Kriolu speakers in Greenwich, which is a Portuguese-African creole originating in Cape Verde. It is unknown how many first or second generation Portuguese Britons speak English as a first or second language, as no census of the entire community has ever been performed.[4] An estimates 50,000 Portuguese-speakers reside in East Anglia with tens of thousands of Portuguese speakers living in Norfolk and Thetford, although many of these are actually of Brazilian origin.[5] The 2011 Census showed that Portuguese is the 10th most widely spoken language within England and Wales, with 133,000 people claiming it as their first language.[6]


70.68% of recent Portuguese immigrants to the UK of working age are employed (compared to 73.49% for British born people regardless of race or ethnic background). 13.39% of recent immigrants are low earners, which is pay less than £149.20 a week (compared to 21.08% for British-born people), and 2.68% are high earners, which is more than £750 per week (compared to 6.98% for British-born people). The percentages for settled immigrants are slightly different, 68.57% are employed, with 14.00% being low earners and 6.00% high earners.[7]

Portuguese In The United Kingdom Neighborhoods[edit]


Channel Islands[edit]


Culture and community[edit]

Such is the great number of Madeirans in the UK, Madeira Day and Portugal Day is celebrated in London.


Media for the Portuguese community in the UK as well as the Portuguese-speaking community has a strong presences, these include several newspaper publications, radio stations and television channels.


  • as notícias, launched in 2006 aimed primarily at Portuguese nationals living and working in the UK. With a circulation of around 50,000 and being available in 60 locations nationwide, it is likely to be the UK's main Portuguese newspaper.[1][8]


  • ZON TV Satélite, a package of 130 channels (36 of which are in Portuguese) is available throughout the UK at a similar cost to the UK based cable networks.[9]
  • meo satélite, a similar package as ZON TV Satélite, but focused more on sports, children's programming and Portuguese programming.
  • RTP Internacional, international feed of the Portuguese public broadcaster, RTP.
  • Rede Record, although a Portuguese-language channel, it is aimed primarily at the Brazilian community in the UK. It can be found on Sky channel 801.

Famous Portuguese Britons[edit]

British Citizens[edit]

Grace Aguilar, a historically significant novelist

The list below includes British born people of Portuguese descent and Portuguese born people who have become British citizens.

Non-citizen Immigrants[edit]

The list below includes Portuguese immigrants and expatriates in the United Kingdom, who are not official UK citizens, just residents.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]