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The UK is home to about 0.9% of the world’s population. Fewer than China, then; but more than the Pitcairn Islands. The population of the UK is about 65 million, about a third of which live in south east England, plus around 23 million sheep. Breaking this down a bit:
|Which is Roughly|
“It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him”. – George Bernard Shaw.
Some people – mainly Scots, Welsh and Irish – love to dislike the English. English is the main language for more than 95% of the population, but native languages include Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish – all Celtic in origin. Dialects vary considerably: one will find we don’t all speak like Prince Charles and there are huge regional differences from north to south and east to west – a consequence of a rich heritage of invasions and not having TV until relatively recently. Sometimes, we don’t even understand each other. As a result of immigration, largely since the mid-20th century, an array of other languages – Asian and European – are also spoken, mainly in urban areas.
The English, in particular, are not renowned for speaking other people’s languages very well and believe the trick to getting foreigners to understand them is to SPEAK VERY LOUDLY OR EVEN SHOUT. The assumption is that as everyone surely understands English, then a lack of comprehension on the part of the listener means s/he must be deaf. You may also notice people praying in English; this is because English is spoken in heaven, of course.
You will note that this is written in English for the benefit of people who may not be English speakers.
Then, of course, there’s the tricky business of exactly who the British people are. Some of them aren’t sure – but there is no such thing as a pure-bred Briton; we are all hybrids..
The Roman writer, Tacitus, said:
“Who the first inhabitants of Britain were, whether natives or immigrants, remains obscure; one must remember we are dealing with barbarians.”
The British people are products of successive waves of invaders – Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxon-Jute-Frisian, Danes, Norse and Norman. Broadly speaking, the Scots were originally from Ireland; the English were from Germany; the Welsh came from England; the Irish came from Spain (maybe) and Scotland. Since the Norman invasion of 1066, they have been joined through the centuries by more folk from Scandinavia, France, Holland, Ireland and, more recently, from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Pakistan, China, Poland etc etc. It’s quite straightforward…
To understand more about this, start with Early British history.