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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 09:14 GMT
Census results: An accurate reflection of today's Britain?
Figures giving the ethnic, religious, age and gender makeup of Britain have been revealed on Thursday with the publication of results from the 2001 Census.

For the first time ever, two areas of Britain - Newham in east London and Brent in north west London - now have more blacks and Asians than white people.

England and Wales also has a Muslim population of more than 1.5m, making it the largest faith after Christianity.

Following an internet campaign, more than 390,000 people described their religion as Jedi Knight.

The latest statistics from the survey also show that Britain's population is still heading from north to south, there are more single parents and more people live alone.

Results for Scotland are being published separately. Northern Ireland's data was revealed earlier this year.

Do the Census figures provide an accurate reflection of Britain today? Are there any surprises? Have you noticed any major population changes in your area?

Thank you for your comments; this debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails is published below.

A census helps us understand the changes going on around us. I hope that people do not feel threatened by demographic change. Keep improving UK institutions as you go and the demographics won't matter. Of course, there will always be the odd responder . . .
Michael, USA

I live in the Lambeth borough of London. The three people in this household don't appear in the census because we did not receive a census form to fill in. How many others are like us?
Anni Bales, England

It matters not how many people are in this country at the present time. Nor does it make any difference what religion or ethnic group they belong to. If it were only English people who lived in this country, there would still be hatred and different religious groups opposing each other.
Until the time when we can accept that we are all human beings who need and rely on each other, the present situation will remain. If we had learnt these things already, then the immigrants, whether illegal or not, would almost certainly not have felt the need to have left their own country in the first place. If we take the time to reflect on the present situation the world is in, we should become aware that we need to learn to get along with one another very quickly or our time on this planet will run out.
Ivan Hulbert, England

There is a reported drop in the number of people living in Manchester since the last census was taken. Of course if they had bothered to deliver a census form to my house - even after repeated phone calls - they would have recorded another 7 residents.
Paul Gitsham, Manchester, England.

The multicultural nature of this country is not a new thing

Nia Stevens, London, UK
I'm very glad about the increase in the number of Welsh language speakers. But as a Welsh language speaker who now lives in England I was put out that I had no "Welsh Language" tick box. I once heard it quoted that there were almost as many Welsh speakers living in England and Scotland as there are in Wales. I've no idea how true this is, it would have been nice to find out. It might also have been a nice reminder that the multicultural nature of this country is not a new thing.
Nia Stevens, London, UK

I have to view the census as tongue in cheek. Surely people not wishing to appear in the census who are here illegally will have either just not responded or filled in false details. I can't believe the population is decreasing as certainly here in Manchester there seems to be more and more people from ethnic minorities. Perhaps our population is nearer 65 million, six of which are unaccounted for?
Colin, Manchester, England

Are 'illegal' or untraceable immigrants given the census to fill out? I somehow doubt it.

Let's make "Jedi" an official religion. For Yoda's sake, it's got to be better - and more logical - than the current "legitimate" religions.
Rick, UK

With the results showing that ethnic minorities are in some places majorities and in a lot of others, no longer minorities, perhaps now is the time to embrace a removal of ethnic background from legislation. Perhaps we could use the term 'person' instead. After all, we are all people and everything else is just culture.
Martin Moss, England

I think if everyone followed the Jedi ways of life maybe we would not be facing a war that most people don't want to get involved in.
Sharm, England

I always knew the force was strong in the UK.
Greg Robson, UK

Up to a third of the population live alone, and it is still assumed it is a bad thing

Ricardo Molina, UK
Why is London described as the "worst" for single people? Up to a third of the population live alone, and it is still assumed it is a bad thing. Is it so hard to imagine that they live on their own by choice?
Ricardo Molina, UK

Almost half a million people taking up a fictional "religion" - what a joke.
Anon, UK

I think Anon UK is missing the point with his/her snide "what a joke" remark. It was a joke - a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek response to an extremely personal question that can't be answered with a tick in a box or a one-word answer in the "other" box. Lighten up, already!
Tracey, UK

I object to description 'the worst place for people living on their own was London with 35%.' This gives living alone a negative connotation. I live on my own from choice and object to it being portrayed as somehow second best to cohabitation or living with a spouse.
Kate Tudor, England

I'm surprised only 9% of the population are from an ethnic minority, but I guess the change from 6% to 9% in one decade gives us encouragement for the future, where hopefully we can reach nearer 50% and be treated as equal members of society.
Paul Johnson, England

Doesn't that make them the ethnic majority?

Alan, London, UK
If there are more "ethnic minorities" in Brent and Newham, doesn't that make them the ethnic majority?
Alan, London, UK

In my local schools (Waltham Forest) nearly 50% of the children are from an ethnic minority group, so the findings of the census do not surprise me at all. However, I do wonder how long we can call them "minority" groups!
F Wilson, UK

Nearly 59 million legitimate individuals on these islands? No wonder it seems crowded.
Julian, England

Basically, does this reflect reality, or just the people who completed the census returns? I understand there were several million who didn't return their forms for various reasons and this is of necessity going to skew the results. To base future trends and policy on figures which are already out of date is like driving looking only in the rear view mirror. You see where you were, but have no idea where you're going. I live in one of the designated areas for major housing growth; the support services are already stretched to breaking point. This will only get worse.
Crystal Dowell, England

I am quite disgusted by the way that those describing themselves as Heathens appear to have been categorised as having 'no religion' in the census results. Heathenism is a valid religion with a strong and growing community in the UK and elsewhere. Heathens are active and committed practitioners of a real religion which honours the ancient Gods of England, they are not a joke. Being dismissed in this way is nothing short of blatant religious discrimination.
J Brassington, UK

My only concern is that there are 390,000 people in this country who are sad enough as to class there religion as 'Jedi' - especially as the latest films were so rubbish.
Jamie, UK

Being old enough to have loved the Star Wars movies in the 1970s, I'm incensed that so many of today's young pups think they're Jedis. You pups should know that the term for you is 'Young Jedi' or 'trainee Jedi'. As Yoda would say, you are not a Jedi - yet. It's a discipline, not a religion. Do your homework!
Patsy, London, UK

I follow Jedi faithfully along with many others

Reginald, England
I think it's about time Jedi was recognised as a religion. I follow it faithfully along with many others, so why shouldn't it be?
Reginald, England

Although the Jedi Knight campaign sounds like it is somewhat immature, what a lot of people don't realise is it is the result of the first proportionally representative vote many of us have ever taken part in, and many could argue it is more legitimate than the general election! And it is interesting that although the Jedi community is bigger than the Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish Communities, it gets only a condescending mention in the Census! Obviously the chief executive isn't a fan of the saga!
Ross Shonfeld, London, UK

No, the census can never be accurate as many people do not complete it. As to the Jedi faith this is brilliant. In the great fictional battle against the evil of the empire, Jedis are depicted as holy warriors, who use the powerful strength of The Force to overcome the baddies. If this is true, maybe we could organise the Jedis to fight Iraq? Any takers?
Simone, England

Your quote "more than 80% of people in England and Wales described themselves as White British" is misleading - there was no tick box for 'English', only White British. Had we been given the choice the results would be much different.
Richard, England

It's nice to see that my religion has 390,000 followers. May the force be with you!
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke, UK

So does Jedi now become an officially recognised religion in the UK? Could be quite a positive influence really, although our technology had better catch up to give us light sabres.
David, London, UK

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