The size of the minority ethnic population was 4.6 million in 2001 or 7.9 per cent of the total population of the United Kingdom.
Indians were the largest minority group, followed by Pakistanis, those of Mixed ethnic backgrounds, Black Caribbeans, Black Africans and Bangladeshis. The remaining minority ethnic groups each accounted for less than 0.5 per cent but together accounted for a further 1.4 per cent of the UK population.
Ethnic group data were not collected on the Northern Ireland Census in 1991. However, in Great Britain the minority ethnic population grew by 53 per cent between 1991 and 2001, from 3.0 million in 1991 to 4.6 million in 2001.
Half of the total minority ethnic population were Asians of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or other Asian origin. A quarter of minority ethnic people described themselves as Black, that is Black Caribbean, Black African or Other Black. Fifteen per cent of the minority ethnic population described their ethnic group as Mixed. About a third of this group were from White and Black Caribbean backgrounds.
Census Ethnic Group Questions: In both 1991 and 2001 respondents were asked to which ethnic group they considered themselves to belong. The question asked in 2001 was more extensive than that asked in 1991, so that people could tick "Mixed" for the first time. This change in answer categories may account for a small part of the observed increase in the minority ethnic population over the period.
Different versions of the ethnic group question were asked in England and Wales, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, to reflect local differences in the requirement for information. However, results are comparable across the UK as a whole.
Sources: Census, April 2001, Office for National Statistics. Census, April 1991, Office for National Statistics.