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Languages in England and Wales

Below is a Google Maps widget representing the most common mother tongue other than English (and, in Wales, other than Welsh) in each Ward of England and Wales; I couldn't find equivalent data for Scotland. You may need to wait a few seconds before the colours are displayed. Click on any Ward to bring up its name, the most commonly spoken language other than English (and Welsh in Wales), and the percentage of people speaking that language. The numbers come from table WD204EW of the 2011 Census, the data being available for download from nomis.

Polish
Punjabi
All other Chinese
Bengali
Urdu
French
Gujarati
Tagalog
German
Nepalese
Arabic
Portuguese
Spanish
Turkish
Lithuanian
Tamil
Malayalam
Italian
Cantonese
Romanian
Dutch
Slovak
Russian

The legend at right shows the most commonly seen languages in the map, which together account for over 96% of all the Wards with language data. I chose the colours by random-number generation. It is immediately apparent that Polish dominates the map – in fact Polish is the most commonly spoken non-English language (and non-Welsh in Wales) in over half of all Wards, 4879 in total. In second place is Punjabi, which leads in 433 Wards. This enormous disparity is not reflective of the total number of Polish and Punjabi speakers, since there are only about two times as many of the former, rather than ten times as many. The Polish have clearly spread themselves across the country much more evenly than other major immigrant groups.

The opacity of the shading is related to the percentage of people in the suburb who speak the language in question, with solid colour being used for anything over 15%. Note that when the percentage and population are low, it may be only one family in the Ward speaking the language in question.

The "population" is the number of "usual residents aged 3 and over who are either in employment in the area, or not in employment but live in the area".

The language breakdowns are not as detailed as those for Australia and Canada, and there are a handful of Wards which show some sort of "Other" as the most common non-English language. (This is apart from "All other Chinese", which I expect is just an unspecified Mandarin or Cantonese.) I could have removed these, but decided to leave them in whenever the "Other" language was from some specified region.

I used the WD_DEC_2011_EW_BFE.shp shapefile available from data.gov.uk on this page, simplifying the geometries in QGIS to reduce the file size.

Posted 2014-05-25.


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