The British diaspora consists of British people and their descendants who emigrated from the present-day United Kingdom, or people who have acquired British Nationality through colonisation. The diaspora is concentrated in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, with smaller concentrations in the United States, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, parts of the Caribbean and parts of continental Europe such as Spain. About 1.2 million British citizens live in Australia.
Outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, the largest proportions of people of self-identified ethnic British descent in the world are found in New Zealand (59%), Australia (46%) and Canada (31%), followed by a considerably smaller minority in the United States (12%) and parts of the Caribbean. The estimate of British Americans is a serious undercount as almost 50 million Americans (25% of the population in the 1980 US census) claimed English or part-English ancestry; 20-35 million have Scots, Scots-Irish and Welsh ancestry. The British ancestry is most often hidden within the category 'American.'
Hong Kong has the highest proportion of British citizens outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, with 47% of Hong Kong residents holding a British National (Overseas) citizenship or a British citizenship.
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, and 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 the Federation 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, 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 United Kingdom Census 1861 estimated the size of the overseas British to be around 2.5 million, but 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 and therefore these figures are based on the most reliable information that can be obtained e.g. from host government official statistics.
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, 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 by population of self-reported British ancestry
|Country||Population||% of country||Source|
|Pitcairn Islands (UK)||49||100%||Government of the Pitcairn Islands|
|Falkland Islands (UK)||2,378–2,779||70%–82%||The Geographical Journal and Falkland Islands 2016 Census|
|New Zealand||2,425,278||59%||2006 New Zealand Census|
|Norfolk Island (Australia)||857||49%||2016 Australian Census, numerical estimate from percentage identifying their ancestry as British|
|Australia||10,764,870||46%||2016 Australian Census, numerical estimate from percentage identifying their ancestry as British|
|Canada||10,753,945||31%||2016 Canadian Census|
|Gibraltar (UK)||–||+27%||1995 Gibraltar Electoral Register|
|United States||36,812,826||12%||American Community Survey 2015|
|Barbados||20,000–27,000||7–10%||CIA World Factbook and Brits Abroad (Institute for Public Policy Research)|
|Republic of Ireland||177,200–291,000||4–7%||Central Statistics Office and Brits Abroad (Institute for Public Policy Research)|
|Chile||700,000||4%||Biography of Chile, includes Irish Chileans|
|South Africa||1,603,575||3%||South African National Census of 2011|
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:
|Rank||Country||Number of British residents, 2006||Region(s)||Group(s)|
|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|
|6||New Zealand||215,000||Asia Pacific||British New Zealander, Scottish New Zealander|
|7||South Africa||212,000||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|8||France||200,000||Europe||Britons in France|
|12||UAE||55,000||Mid East||Britons in the United Arab Emirates|
|13||Pakistan||47,000||Asia||Britons in Pakistan|
|19||China (including Hong Kong)||36,000note||Asia Pacific||Britons in China, Britons in Hong Kong|
|20||Turkey||34,000||Eur/Mid East||Britons in Turkey|
|25||Saudi Arabia||26,000||Mid East|
|28||Japan||23,000||Asia Pacific||Britons in Japan|
|33||Egypt||14,000||Africa||Britons in Egypt|
|36||Trinidad and Tobago||11,000||Caribbean|
|37||Brazil||11,000||South America||English Brazilian, Scottish Brazilian|
|39||Gaza & West Bank||11,000||Mid East|
|44||Mexico||8,500||North America||British Mexican, English Mexican, Scottish Mexican|
|46||Argentina||8,300||South America||English Argentine, Welsh Argentine, Scottish Argentine|
|63||Chile||5,200||South America||British Chilean, English Chilean, Scottish Chilean, Welsh Chilean|
|66||Costa Rica||4,800||North America|
|67||Peru||4,600||South America||British Peruvian|
|69||Sri Lanka||4,400||Asia||Burgher people|
|72||Colombia||3,600||South America||British Colombian, English Colombian, Scottish Colombian|
|76||South Korea||3,400||Asia Pacific|
|110||British Virgin Islands||1,000||Caribbean|
|114||Papua New Guinea||940||Asia Pacific|
|120||St Kitts & Nevis||880||Caribbean|
|135||El Salvador||390||North America|
|-||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 Britons, 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).
- "British High Commission Canberra". GOV.UK. 2016.
- 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. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Census Profile, 2016 Census". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Ancestry in the United States". Statistical Atlas. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- In the 1980 Census, over 49 million (49,598,035) Americans claimed English ancestry, at the time around 26.34% of the total population and largest reported group which, even today, would make them the largest ethnic group in the United States.
- The Committee Office, House of Commons. "House of Commons - Foreign Affairs - Fifth Report". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Ember 2004, p. 47.
- Marshall 2001, p. 254.
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 22 Mar 2006 (pt 15)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- 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.
- "Expatriates worldwide". JustLanded.com. 2009.
- "Working Abroad". whichoffshore.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 22 March 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "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
- Vincent, Patrick (March 1983). The Geographical Journal, Vol. 149, No. 1, pp 16–17.
- 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.
- Edward G. Archer (2006). "Ethnic factors". Gibraltar, identity and empire. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-415-34796-9.
- "The World Factbook". CIA.
- "Brits Abroad". BBC News – Special Reports. BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "8. Religion" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
- "Historia de Chile, Británicos y Anglosajones en Chile durante el siglo XIX". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- Census 2011: Census in brief (PDF). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012. p. 26. ISBN 9780621413885. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2015. The number of people who described themselves as white in terms of population group and specified their first language as English in South Africa's 2011 Census was 1,603,575. The total white population with a first language specified was 4,461,409 and the total population was 51,770,560.
- "Brits Abroad". BBC News – Special Reports. BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "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.