BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Wales  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 14 February, 2003, 11:48 GMT
Census shows Welsh language rise
Census graphic
The latest census figures to show make-up of Wales
Results of the latest census show a significant increase in the numbers of people speaking Welsh.

Full census figures published on Thursday reveal that more than 20% of people in Wales now speak Welsh. Figures revealed that 20.5% - more than one in five - of the population are Welsh speakers. This compares with 18.5% of Welsh speakers in the 1991 census.

In addition, more than 28% able to understand Welsh.

Statistics on families, health, ethnic background, housing, work and travel were also published, to add to the population figures, which were revealed in September 2002.

Welsh is becoming not a rural language, but an urban language and it's gaining strength in places like Cardiff

Dr John Davies

Those figures showed that 2,903,085 people lived in Wales on census night in 2001 - up 2.4% on 10 years previously - but the latest statistics will paint a far more detailed picture of Welsh life.

They show that one third of people in Wales prefers to describe themselves as British rather than Welsh.

But the build-up to the census was dogged by the controversy over the lack of a tick-box allowing people to identify themselves specifically as Welsh, without having to write the word 'Welsh' in the box marked 'Other'.

In fact, those living in Wales are more likely to consider themselves as British (35%) than Scotland, (27%) but less likely than those in England (48%).

Census information made available includes:

  • Population, household and family make-up.
  • The proportion of people able to speak, read and understand Welsh.
  • General health information including limiting long-term illness.
  • The current ethnic make-up of the country.
  • For the first time, the religious make-up of the country.

    While figures show an increase in those speaking Welsh, data shows that the language is losing ground in its rural heartland, while gaining strength in urban areas.

    Welsh historian, Dr John Davies, told BBC Wales: "Welsh is becoming not a rural language, but an urban language and it's gaining strength in places like Cardiff.

    "In the 1950s only about 5% of Welsh speakers lived within 10 or 20 miles of Cardiff, now it's 10%."

    Butetown, Cardiff
    Wales' ethnic make-up will be revealed
    A total of 96 per cent of the population of Wales gave their ethnic origin as White British.

    In Wales, there were increases (compared with 1991) in the proportion of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese people, and 0.6 per cent classified themselves in 2001 as mixed ethnicity.

    In terms of health, the census found that rates of poor health were higher than the average for Engalnd and Wales.

    The south Wales Valleys county of Merthyr Tydfil has the highest (18.1%) followed by Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire and Torfaen.

    The census was held during the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001, but organisers said neither that, nor protests over the absence of a tick-box for people to register that they were Welsh, affected the numbers who supplied information.

    In all, 41 questions on areas ranging from housing to ethnic background were asked.

    The results of the census will be used to determine how public money should be spent and the needs of the population in different areas of Wales.

    The population figures already released showed that Wales is more populous and marginally more elderly than a decade ago.

    Merthyr street
    Merthyr's population has declined

    And they revealed that some areas of Wales were growing rapidly, while the population of some rural and valleys areas was shrinking.

    The population of Ceredigion grew by 19.5%, Cardiff's by 7% and Denbighshire's by 7%.

    Merthyr Tydfil lost 5.6% of its population in 10 years with Blaenau Gwent, Anglesey and Neath Port Talbot also recording fewer inhabitants than a decade previously.

    The census also showed that Cardiff is becoming a younger city with 24.1% of its population aged between 20 and 34, compared to 18% in Wales as a whole.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    BBC Wales' Rhun ap Iorwerth
    "It may not sound a huge increase but in terms of reversing a century of decline, its very significant indeed."

    Key stories

    Analysis

    UK breakdown

    TALKING POINT

    FORUM
    See also:

    30 Sep 02 | Wales
    30 Sep 02 | Wales
    13 Feb 03 | Wales
    13 Feb 03 | Wales
    Internet links:


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


     E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Wales stories

    © BBC ^^ Back to top

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
    South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
    Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
    Programmes