flag of the united kingdom
- british 72 million
- british diaspora 140 million
|regions with significant populations|
| united kingdom||57,678,000[a]|
| united states|||
| new zealand|||
| south africa|||
| british overseas territories||247,899|
| united arab emirates||240,000[c]|
| saudi arabia||26,000[c]|
| trinidad and tobago||25,000[c]|
| hong kong|
- scots (including ulster-scots)
- scottish gaelic
- immigrant languages
- mainly christianity (anglicanism, protestantism, roman catholicism)
- see also religion in the united kingdom
- ^ british citizens of any race or ethnicity.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i people who identify of full or partial british ancestry born into that country.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u uk-born people who identify of british ancestry only.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i british citizens or nationals.
- ^ british citizens by way of residency in the british overseas territories; however, not all have ancestry from the united kingdom.
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the british people, or britons, are the citizens of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland, the british overseas territories, and the crown dependencies. british nationality law governs modern british citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from british nationals. when used in a historical context, "british" or "britons" can refer to the celtic britons, the indigenous inhabitants of great britain and brittany, whose surviving members are the modern welsh people, cornish people, and bretons. it may also refer to citizens of the former british empire.
though early assertions of being british date from the late middle ages, the creation of the kingdom of great britain in 1707 triggered a sense of british national identity. the notion of britishness was forged during the napoleonic wars between britain and the first french empire, and developed further during the victorian era. the complex history of the formation of the united kingdom created a "particular sense of nationhood and belonging" in great britain and ireland; britishness became "superimposed on much older identities", of english, scots, welsh and irish cultures, whose distinctiveness still resists notions of a homogenised british identity. because of longstanding ethno-sectarian divisions, british identity in northern ireland is controversial, but it is held with strong conviction by unionists.
modern britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic groups that settled in great britain in and before the 11th century: prehistoric, brittonic, roman, anglo-saxon, norse and normans. the progressive political unification of the british isles facilitated migration, cultural and linguistic exchange, and intermarriage between the peoples of england, scotland and wales during the late middle ages, early modern period and beyond. since 1922 and earlier, there has been immigration to the united kingdom by people from what is now the republic of ireland, the commonwealth, mainland europe and elsewhere; they and their descendants are mostly british citizens, with some assuming a british, dual or hyphenated identity.
the british are a diverse, multinational, multicultural and multilingual society, with "strong regional accents, expressions and identities". the social structure of the united kingdom has changed radically since the 19th century, with a decline in religious observance, enlargement of the middle class, and increased ethnic diversity, particularly since the 1950s, when citizens of the british empire were encouraged to immigrate to britain to work as part of the recovery from world war ii. the population of the uk stands at around 66 million, with a british diaspora of around 140 million concentrated in australia, canada and new zealand, with smaller concentrations in the united states, the republic of ireland, chile, south africa and parts of the caribbean.