Demography of Cardiff

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This article presents the historical demographics of Cardiff, capital city of Wales in the United Kingdom.


Year Population of Cardiff Change
1801 6,342 -
1851 26,630 320%
1861 48,965 184%
1871 71,301 84%
1881 93,637 31%
1891 142,114 52%
1901 172,629 21%
1911 209,804 22%
1921 227,753 9%
1931 247,270 9%
1941 257,112 4%
1951 267,356 4%
1961 278,552 4%
1971 290,227 4%
1981 274,500 -5%
1991 272,557 -1%
2001 292,150 7%
2007 321,000* 10%
2008 324,800† 1%
source: Vision of Britain except *,
which is estimated by the
Office for National Statistics,
and † which is estimated by National Statistics for Wales.
Historical populations are calculated
with the modern boundaries

Following a period of decline during the 1970s and 1980s, Cardiff's population is growing. The local authority area had an estimated population of more than 324,800 in 2008,[1] compared to a 2001 Census figure of 305,353.[2] Between mid-2007 and mid-2008, Cardiff was the fastest-growing local authority in Wales with population growth rate of 1.2%.[1] According to Census 2001 data, Cardiff was the 14th largest settlement in the United Kingdom,[3] and the 21st largest urban area.[4] The Cardiff Larger Urban Zone (a Eurostat definition including the Vale of Glamorgan and a number of local authorities in the Valleys) has 841,600 people, the 10th largest LUZ in the UK.[5] The Cardiff and South Wales Valleys metropolitan area has a population of nearly 1.1 million people.[6]

Official estimates derived from the census regarding the city's total population have been disputed. The city council has published two articles that argue the 2001 census seriously under reports the population of Cardiff and, in particular, the ethnic minority population of some inner city areas.[7][8]

The Welsh Government's official 2016 mid year estimate of the population of the Cardiff local authority was 361,468 [9]

Cardiff has an ethnically diverse population due to its past trading connections, post-war immigration and the large numbers of foreign students who attend university in the city. The ethnic make-up of Cardiff's population at the time of the 2001 census was: 91.6% white, 2% mixed race, 4% South Asian, 1.3% black, 1.2% other ethnic groups. According to a report published in 2005, over 30,000 people from an ethnic minority live in Cardiff, around 8.4% of the city's total — many of these communities live in Butetown, where ethnic minorities make up around a third of the total population.[10] This diversity, and especially that of the city's long-established African and Arab communities, has been celebrated in a number of cultural exhibitions and events, along with a number of books which have been published on this subject.[11][12]


Cardiff has a chequered linguistic history with Welsh, English, Latin, Norse and Anglo-Norman preponderant at different times. Welsh was the majority language in Cardiff from the 13th century until the city's explosive growth in the Victorian era.[13] As late as 1850, five of the twelve Anglican churches within the current city boundaries conducted their services exclusively in the Welsh language, while only two worshipped exclusively in English.[13] By 1891, the percentage of Welsh speakers had dropped to 27.9% and only Lisvane, Llanedeyrn and Creigiau remained as majority Welsh-speaking communities.[14] The Welsh language became grouped around a small cluster of chapels and churches, the most notable of which is Tabernacl in the city centre, one of four UK churches chosen to hold official services to commemorate the new millennium. Following the establishment of the city's first Welsh School (Ysgol Gymraeg Bryntaf) in the 1950s, Welsh has slowly regained some ground.[15] Aided by Welsh-medium education and migration from other parts of Wales, the number of Welsh speakers in Cardiff rose by 14,451 between 1991 and 2001; Welsh is now spoken by 11% of Cardiffians. The highest percentage of Welsh speakers is in Pentyrch, where 15.9% of the population speak the language.[16]

In addition to English and Welsh, the diversity of Cardiff's population (including foreign students) means that a large number of languages are spoken within the city. One study has found that Cardiff has speakers of at least 94 languages, with Somali, Urdu, Bengali and Arabic being the most commonly spoken foreign languages.[17]

The modern Cardiff accent is distinct from that of the nearby South Wales Valleys. It is marked primarily by:

  • The substitution of /ɪə/ by [øː][18][19] For example, here /hɪə/ is pronounced [jøː] in the broader form
  • A more open pronunciation of /ʌ/, as in love and other[19]
  • /æ/ is widely realised as [a], giving a pronunciation of Cardiff [ˈkæːdɪf] as Kahdiff [ˈkaːdɪf]
Language schools

Owing to its diversity, large student population, and convenient size and location, Cardiff has seen a rise in the number of people coming to the city to learn English. Foreign students are a common sight on the streets of Cardiff with a large percentage coming from Arabic and other European countries.[1] The British Council has an office in the city centre and there are six accredited schools in the area.[20]


At the 2011 census, there were the following national identities:

  • Welsh only: 50%
  • Welsh and British: 8%
  • Other Welsh combined: 4%
  • English only: 8%
  • English and British: 2%
  • Other English combined: 1%
  • British only: 21%
  • Other British combined: 11%
  • Other: 10%


Since 1922 Cardiff has included the suburban cathedral 'village' of Llandaff, whose bishop is also Archbishop of Wales since 2002. There is also a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city. Since 1916 Cardiff has been the seat of a Catholic archbishop, but there appears to have been a fall in the estimated Catholic population, with estimated numbers in 2006 being around 25,000 less than in 1980.[21] Likewise, the Jewish population of the city also appears to have fallen—there are two synagogues in Cardiff, one in Cyncoed and one in Moira Terrace, as opposed to seven at the turn of the 20th century.[22] There are a significant number of nonconformist chapels, an early-20th century Greek Orthodox church and 11 mosques.[23][24][25] In the 2001 census 66.9% of Cardiff's population described itself as Christian, a percentage point below the Welsh and UK averages.

In the 2001 census Cardiff's Muslim population stood at 3.7%, above the UK average (2.7%) and significantly above the Welsh average. Cardiff has one of the longest-established Muslim populations in the UK, started by Yemeni sailors who settled in the city during the 19th century.[26] The first mosque in the UK (on the site of what is now known as the Al-Manar Islamic Centre) opened in 1860 in the Cathays district of Cardiff.[27] Cardiff is now home to over 11,000 Muslims from many different nationalities and backgrounds,[28] nearly 52 per cent of the Welsh Muslim population.[29]

The former Cardiff Synagogue, Cathedral Road—now an office block.

The oldest of the non-Christian communities in Wales is Judaism. Jews were not permitted to live in Wales between the 1290 Edict of Expulsion—given by Edward I of England—and the seventeenth century. A Welsh Jewish community was re-established in the eighteenth century.[30] There was once a fairly substantial Jewish population in South Wales, most of which has disappeared. The modern community is centred in the Cardiff United Synagogue.

The proportion of Cardiff residents declaring themselves to be Hindu, Sikh and Jewish were all considerably higher than the Welsh averages, but less than the UK figures. The city has been home to a sizeable Hindu community since Indian immigrants settled there during the 1950s and 1960s. The first Hindu temple in the city was opened in Grangetown on 6 April 1979 on the site of an abandoned printing press (which itself was the former site of a synagogue).[31] The 25th anniversary of the temple's founding was celebrated in September 2007 with a parade of over 3000 people through the city centre, including Hindus from across the United Kingdom and members of Cardiff's other religious communities.[32] Today, there are over 2000 Hindus in Cardiff, worshiping at three temples across the city.[28]

In the 2001 census, 18.8% of the city's population stated they had no religion, while 8.6% did not state a religion.[33]


  1. ^ a b c "2008 Mid-year Estimates of Population" (PDF). National Office of Statistics for Wales. 27 August 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics". Office for National Statistics. 1 April 2001. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  3. ^ Key Statistics for urban areas in England and Wales, Census 2001. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  4. ^ Pointer, Graham, The UK’s major urban areas, Focus on People and Migration, 2005. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  5. ^ "REG 7 1300_cover2.indd" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  6. ^ Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Cardiff Council Representations to ONS on the 2001 Census: Section 1". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  8. ^ "Cardiff Council Representations to ONS on the 2001 Census: Section 2". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  9. ^ "Welsh Government Official Data - Stats Wales". Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Black and Minority Ethnic Communities Consultation Report, 2005". 1 September 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  11. ^ Lee, Brian (15 April 1999). Butetown and Cardiff Docks. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-1582-6.
  12. ^ "Black History in Butetown". Butetown History & Arts Centre. Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  13. ^ a b Jenkins, H Geraint (1997). The Welsh Language before the Industrial Revolution. Cardiff. ISBN 978-0-7083-1418-0.
  14. ^ Jenkins, Geraint H. (1998). Language and Community in the Nineteenth Century. Cardiff: Univ. of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-1467-8.
  15. ^ "Census shows Welsh language rise". BBC Wales. 14 February 2003. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  16. ^ "Pentyrch Community Council Welsh Language Scheme" (PDF). 1 June 2003. Retrieved 22 January 2008.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Positively Plurilingual" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
  18. ^ Google Books | The phonetics of Cardiff English
  19. ^ a b Accents and dialects of the UK: Cardiff Accessed 2 March 2010
  20. ^ "A-Z list of accredited centres". Archived from the original on 1 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Archdiocese of Cardiff – Statistics". Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  22. ^ "JCR-UK – Cardiff Community". 14 October 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  23. ^ "Cardiff, Llandaff & Roath chapels database". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  24. ^ "The Greek Orthodox Church in Great Britain". Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  25. ^ "Muslim Directory – Mosques in Cardiff". Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  26. ^ Ansari, Humayun (2004). The Infidel Within: Muslims in Britain Since 1800. London: C. Hurst & Co. p. 429. ISBN 978-1-85065-686-9.
  27. ^ "From scholarship, sailors and sects to the mills and the mosques". The Guardian. London. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  28. ^ a b "Census 2001 – Profiles – Cardiff". Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  29. ^ "A Social Audit of the Muslim Community in Wales" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  30. ^ "Multicultural Wales". British Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  31. ^ "History of Shree Swaminarayan Temple Cardiff". Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  32. ^ "Worshippers celebrate with parade". BBC Wales. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  33. ^ "Census 2001 – Profiles – Cardiff – Ethnicity & Religion". 19 February 2003. Retrieved 23 January 2008.