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Inner London

Coordinates: 51°30′30″N 0°07′31″W / 51.508411°N 0.125364°W / 51.508411; -0.125364
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Inner London
Statutory definition
Statutory definition
Statistical definition
Statistical definition
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Administrative areaGreater London
 • Total123 sq mi (319 km2)
 (2021 Census)
 • Total3,404,300
 • Density28,000/sq mi (11,000/km2)

Inner London is the name for the group of London boroughs that form the interior part of Greater London and are surrounded by Outer London. With its origins in the bills of mortality, it became fixed as an area for statistics in 1847 and was used as an area of local government from 1855 to 1965 principally as the County of London or earlier as the Metropolitan Board of Works Area (metropolis). It now has two common definitions. The first is the statutory definition delineated in the London Government Act 1963, coming into force on 1 April 1965, comprising twelve Inner London boroughs and almost identical to the County of London that was abolished at the same time.[1] The second is the definition used by the Office for National Statistics comprising eleven of the statutory Inner London boroughs and two of the statutory Outer London boroughs, as well as the City of London.[2]

Inner London is smaller than Outer London both in terms of population and area, but the population density is more than double that of Outer London. Inner London is officially the wealthiest area in Europe with the most expensive street in Europe: GDP per capita is more than €80,000[3] while the UK GDP per capita is around €27,000.[3]



The area that is now Inner London was defined by the Registrar General as a collection of parishes called "London" and appeared in the 1851 Census. At the time the metropolitan area—commonly called the Metropolis—had its origins in the area of the Bills of mortality that had expanded from the tiny City of London into three surrounding counties[which?] over the previous several hundred years. The area become fixed in 1847 with the addition of Lewisham Poor Law Union and the parish of Hampstead.[4] In 1855 the Registrar General area, with the addition of Penge, was used to define the district of the Metropolitan Board of Works.[5] The Metropolis was also described as Inner London from the 1881 Census.[6] In 1889 this area became the County of London. The area was adjusted in 1900 when Penge was transferred to Kent and South Hornsey was gained from Middlesex.

London Government Act 1963[edit]

The "Inner London boroughs" were defined by the London Government Act 1963.[7] The Inner London boroughs occupied the same area as the County of London that was abolished as they were created. North Woolwich was an anomaly as it was part of the County of London, but became part of an Outer London borough.

The main difference between Inner and Outer London boroughs between 1965 and 1990 was that the councils of the inner boroughs were not local education authorities and there was a single Inner London Education Authority for the area, including the City of London. The inner borough councils became local education authorities on 1 April 1990.

The statutory definition is used as part of the grant settlement used to finance local government.[8]

The statutory Inner London boroughs are:

Newham London Borough Council argues that the municipality should be treated as part of Inner London for statutory purposes, as it is for statistical purposes (see below).[2] This would benefit the borough financially. Only the North Woolwich area of Newham fell within the former County of London, however, and the council's advocacy has not borne fruit.

The City of London was not designated as an Inner London borough, but the Corporation of London is usually classed as an inner London local authority.[9]


Inner London population pyramid in 2021

The Office for National Statistics and Eurostat define Inner London differently, explicitly including the City of London, adding Haringey and Newham, but excluding Greenwich.[10] The land area is 319 km2 (123 sq mi) and the population at the 2021 Census was 3,404,300.[11]

Historical population
Year Population


Ethnic Group Year
1981 estimations[12] 1991 census[13] 2001 census[14] 2011 census[15] 2021 census[16]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
White: Total 2,062,832 81.3% 1,949,430 74.2% 1,816,605 65.7% 1,853,209 57.3% 1,813,918 53.3%
White: British 1,396,753 50.5% 1,240,266 38.4% 1,130,882 33.2%
White: Irish 93,164 75,165 66,808
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 3,055 1,946
White: Roma 19,347
White: Other 326,688 11.8% 534,723 16.5% 594,935 17.5%
Asian or Asian British: Total 161,816 6.4% 261,159 9.9% 294,361 10.6% 515,193 15.9% 586,432 17.2%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 60,166 77,999 85,471 109,933 116,889
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 22,730 30,824 43,559 59,890 68,055
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 35,014 1.4% 75,275 2.9% 128,314 4.6% 163,838 5.1% 216,810 6.4%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 19382 29358 38,918 65,983 75,259
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 24524 1% 47703 1.8% 37,017 115,549 109,419
Black or Black British: Total 273,511 10.8% 355,493 13.5% 454,450 16.4% 540,181 16.7% 550,140 16.2%
Black or Black British: African 70,869 2.8% 114,330 189,991 276,513 8.6% 314,496 9.2%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 161,422 6.4% 188,333 7.2% 228,691 8.3% 173,959 5.4% 167,439 4.9%
Black or Black British: Other Black 41,220 52,830 35,768 89,709 68,205
Mixed or British Mixed: Total 107,706 3.9% 189,748 5.9% 226,320 6.6%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 35,855 56,900 60,460
Mixed: White and Black African 18,335 32,203 34,224
Mixed: White and Asian 23,651 42,114 52,712
Mixed: Other Mixed 29,865 58,531 78,924
Other: Total 41,932 1.7% 61,416 2.3% 54,074 2.2% 133,570 4.1% 227,335 6.7%
Other: Arab 50,821 58,171
Other: Any other ethnic group 54,074 2.2% 82,749 169,164
Non-White: Total 477,266 18.7% 678,070 25.8% 910,591 34.3% 1,378,692 42.7% 1,590,227 46.7%
Total 2,540,098 100% 2,627,500 100% 2,766,114 100% 3,231,901 100% 3,404,145 100%

Figures before 1971 have been reconstructed by the Office for National Statistics based on past censuses in order to fit the 2001 limits. Figures from 1981 onward are ONS midyear estimates (revised as of 2010).[17]

After centuries of increase, the population of Inner London reached its peak of 4,998,237 in 1911. The area's population from World War I began a steady decline as that of Outer London continued to increase. The census of 1951 showed the damage inflicted by the 1940s Blitz as the population of Greater London switched into decline which was reversed in Outer London with house building and territory expansion whereas in Inner London continued. The war damage and early 20th century slums had physical and psychological hence property price effects and focus on New Towns and suburban development reflected a drive among urban planners for greener, less dense settlements. Inner London reached a post-War nadir, a population not seen since the early 19th century in 1981 having 2,550,100 residents, after which an upward trend ensued and Inner London residents numbered 3,231,901 in 2011 — 1,766,336 short of the 1911 peak.

First language of children
First language of child 1983[18] 1997[19]
English 84% 66%
Non-English 16% 34%

Strategic planning[edit]

For the purposes of the London Plan planning document produced by the Mayor of London, Inner London consists of the City of London, all the statutory Inner London boroughs, and Newham.[20]

Other definitions[edit]

London postal district shown (in red) against the Greater London boundary

The area covered by the London postal district is sometimes referred to as "Inner London".[21] However it is not coterminous with other definitions of Inner London as its area is somewhat larger and covers 624 km2 (241 sq mi). The southern part of the London Borough of Lewisham as well as a small part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich fall outside its boundaries whilst 44 of its 119 districts are in Outer London and its irregular shape stretches to the Greater London boundary at Mill Hill and Scratch Wood and beyond it at Sewardstone.

From 1990 to 2000 London used two separate telephone dialling codes with one code designated for Inner London, however the area covered by this code was widely different from all of the above definitions and most of Greater London is now covered by a single 020 dialling code.


There are approximately 200,000 businesses with around 2,000,000 employees in Inner London. 56% of all private sector jobs in Greater London are located in Inner London.[22] There is significant commuting of workers from Outer London and from outside Greater London. Much of the commercial activity is focused on Central London and Canary Wharf. 10% of public sector employment is focused on Westminster around the Government of the United Kingdom.[22]


  1. ^ Saint, A., Politics and the people of London: the London County Council (1889–1965), (1989)
  2. ^ a b Newham London Borough Council Archived 2007-06-30 at the Wayback Machine – Positively Inner London
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-03-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "1861 Census: General Report". Vision of Britain. Archived from the original on 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  5. ^ Davis, J., Reforming London: The London Government Problem, 1855–1900, (1988)
  6. ^ "1881 Census: General Report". Vision of Britain. Archived from the original on 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  7. ^ Office of Public Sector Information – London Government Act 1963 (c.33) (as amended) Archived 2008-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Local authority lower tier boundaries – Greater London". Archived from the original on 2010-05-31.
  9. ^ "List of inner/outer London boroughs". London Councils. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Inner London through time: Administrative History (post 1974)". A vision of Britain through time. Great Britain Historical GIS. Archived from the original on 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  11. ^ "Population and household estimates, England and Wales: Census 2021". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  12. ^ Ethnicity in the 1991 census: Vol 3 - Social geography and ethnicity in Britain, geographical spread, spatial concentration and internal migration. Internet Archive. London : HMSO. 1996. ISBN 978-0-11-691655-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ Ethnicity in the 1991 census: Vol 3 - Social geography and ethnicity in Britain, geographical spread, spatial concentration and internal migration. Internet Archive. London : HMSO. 1996. ISBN 978-0-11-691655-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "Office of National Statistics; 2001 Census Key Statistics". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  15. ^ "2011 Census: Ethnic Group, local authorities in England and Wales". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2021-12-15.
  16. ^ "Ethnic group - Office for National Statistics". www.ons.gov.uk. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  17. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 12 July 2010
  18. ^ Nielsen, Jørgen S. (1989). "Muslims in english schools". Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs Journal. 10 (1): 223–245. doi:10.1080/02666958908716116. ISSN 0266-6952.
  19. ^ "Ethnic Minority Pupils and Pupils for whom English is an Additional Language 1996/97" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2000-09-03.
  20. ^ Mayor of London. London Plan: Chapter 2 (PDF). Greater London Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-06.
  21. ^ HMSO, The Inner London Letter Post, (1980)
  22. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

51°30′30″N 0°07′31″W / 51.508411°N 0.125364°W / 51.508411; -0.125364