The British diaspora consists of British people and their descendants who emigrated from the present-day United Kingdom, or people who have acquired British Nationality through colonisation. The diaspora is concentrated in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong as well as the United States, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, parts of the Caribbean and parts continental Europe such as Spain. About 1.2 million British citizens live in Australia.
History of British diaspora
Up to the 19th century
After the Age of Discovery the various peoples of the British Isles, and especially the English, were among the earliest and by far the largest communities to emigrate out of Europe, and the British Empire's expansion during the first half of the 19th century saw an extraordinary dispersion of the British people, with particular concentrations in Australasia and North America.
The British Empire was "built on waves of migration overseas by British people", who left Great Britain, later the United Kingdom, and reached across the globe and permanently affected population structures in three continents. As a result of the British colonisation of the Americas, what became the United States was "easily the greatest single destination of emigrant British", but in the Federation of Australia the British experienced a birth rate higher than anything seen before, resulting in the displacement of indigenous Australians.
In colonies such as Southern Rhodesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jamaica, Barbados, British East Africa and the Cape Colony, permanently resident British communities were established and while never more than a numerical minority these Britons exercised a dominant influence upon the culture and politics of those lands. In Australia, Canada and New Zealand people of British origin came to constitute the majority of the population contributing to these states becoming integral to the Anglosphere.
The British emigrated not only to parts of the British Empire but they went to settle in large numbers in America, particularly in the north. United States and Canada have large British-descended populations. In Latin America, Chile, Argentina and Brazil have large British-descended populations.
The United Kingdom Census 1861 estimated the size of the overseas British to be around 2.5 million, but concluded that most of these were "not conventional settlers" but rather "travellers, merchants, professionals, and military personnel". By 1890, there were over 1.5 million further British-born people living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
British diaspora today
According to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office there were 13.1 million British nationals living abroad in 2004–05. These figures are taken from the consular annual returns from overseas posts. There is no requirement for UK citizens to register with British missions overseas and therefore these figures are based on the most reliable information that can be obtained e.g. from host government official statistics.
In terms of outbound expatriation, in 2009 the United Kingdom had the most expatriates among developed OECD countries with more than three million British living abroad, followed by Germany and Italy. On an annual basis, emigration from Britain has stood at about 400,000 per year for the past 10 years.
Living abroad as an expatriate can affect certain rights. In particular:
- British expatriates can only vote in general elections if they have been on a British electoral register at some point in the past 15 years. Otherwise, they are not eligible to vote.
- The British Mental Health Act 1983 rules that persons resident abroad do not qualify as "nearest relative" of a person who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
British people by country
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimates
This article needs to be updated.(March 2015)
In 2006, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, published a report on the British diaspora, entitled Brits Abroad. The following table lists the estimated number of British people (defined as people who are British Subjects, such as British citizen, British National Overseas or British Overseas Citizen) living overseas in countries with more than 100 British people, according to the IPPR's report:
|Rank||Country||Number of British residents, 2006||Region(s)||Group(s)|
|1||Australia||1,300,000||Asia Pacific||Anglo-Celtic Australian, Cornish Australian, English Australian, Scottish Australian, Welsh Australian|
|2||Spain||761,000||Europe||Britons in Spain|
|3||United States||678,000||North America||British American, Cornish American, English American, Welsh American, Scottish American, Scotch-Irish American|
|4||Canada||603,000||North America||English Canadian, Scottish Canadian, Welsh Canadian, Cornish Canadian|
|6||New Zealand||215,000||Asia Pacific||British New Zealander, Scottish New Zealander|
|7||South Africa||212,000||Africa||British diaspora in Africa|
|8||France||200,000||Europe||Britons in France|
|12||UAE||55,000||Mid East||Britons in the United Arab Emirates|
|13||Pakistan||47,000||Asia||Britons in Pakistan|
|19||China (including Hong Kong)||36,000note||Asia Pacific||Britons in Hong Kong|
|20||Turkey||34,000||Eur/Mid East||Britons in Turkey|
|25||Saudi Arabia||26,000||Mid East|
|28||Japan||23,000||Asia Pacific||Britons in Japan|
|33||Egypt||14,000||Africa||Britons in Egypt|
|36||Trinidad and Tobago||11,000||Caribbean|
|37||Brazil||11,000||South America||English Brazilian, Scottish Brazilian|
|39||Gaza & West Bank||11,000||Mid East|
|44||Mexico||8,500||North America||British Mexican, English Mexican, Scottish Mexican|
|46||Argentina||8,300||South America||English Argentine, Welsh Argentine, Scottish Argentine|
|63||Chile||5,200||South America||British Chilean, English Chilean, Scottish Chilean, Welsh Chilean|
|66||Costa Rica||4,800||North America|
|67||Peru||4,600||South America||British Peruvian|
|69||Sri Lanka||4,400||Asia||Burgher people|
|76||South Korea||3,400||Asia Pacific|
|110||British Virgin Islands||1,000||Caribbean|
|114||Papua New Guinea||940||Asia Pacific|
|120||St Kitts & Nevis||880||Caribbean|
|135||El Salvador||390||North America|
|-||Turks & Caicos||<100||Caribbean|
|-||US Virgin Islands||<100||Caribbean|
|-||Central African Republic||<100||Africa|
|-||Cook Islands||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||French Polynesia||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||New Caledonia||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||Norfolk Island||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||North Korea||<100||Asia Pacific|
|-||Solomon Islands||<100||Asia Pacific|
^ Note: A different estimate puts China (incl. Hong Kong) ahead with a population of 3,750,000 Britons, most of which are those in Hong Kong who have continued to possess British nationality, particularly the British nationals (overseas) status, which numbered 3.4 million, through their connection with the former crown colony (see British nationality and Hong Kong for further details).
- "British High Commission Canberra". GOV.UK. 2016.
- Ember 2004, p. 47.
- Marshall 2001, p. 254.
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 22 Mar 2006 (pt 15)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- Sriskandarajah, Dhananjayan; Drew, Catherine (2006). Brits Abroad: Mapping the scale and nature of British emigration. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. ISBN 1-86030-307-2.
- "Expatriates worldwide". JustLanded.com. 2009.
- "Working Abroad". whichoffshore.com. 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "British citizens living abroad - About my vote, produced by The Electoral Commission". Aboutmyvote.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Brits Abroad". BBC News – Special Reports. BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons put the size of the British expatriate community in Hong Kong at over 3 million". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "The FCO had the figure for Hong Kong and China combined at 3,752,031 : Both figures cover all British nationals, including those who are not British citizens". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "Lords Hansard, 22 March 2007". UK Parliament.