British people

British people
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Total population
British
72 million
British diaspora
140 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United Kingdom
57,678,000[2]
(British citizens of any race or ethnicity)
United Kingdom British Overseas Territories
247,899[3]
 United States36,812,826 1
678,000 2[4][5]
 Australia10,764,870 1[6]
1,300,000 4[7]
 Canada10,753,945 1
609,000 4[8]
 New Zealand2,425,278 1
217,000 4[9]
 South Africa1,603,575
750,000 4[7][10]
 Chile700,000 1[11]
 France400,000 4[12]
 Ireland291,000 4[7]
 Argentina250,000 1[13]
 United Arab Emirates240,000 2[14]
 Spain236,669 4[15][16]
 Peru150,000 1[17]
 Germany115,000 2[18]
 Pakistan79,447 4[19]
 Cyprus59,000 2[18]
 Thailand51,000 2[20]
 Singapore45,000 2[20]
  Switzerland45,000 2[21]
 Netherlands44,000 2[21]
 Israel44,000[22]
 Portugal41,000 2[21]
 Sweden39,989 2
 Norway34,279 1[23]
 Turkey34,000 2[21]
 India32,000 2[24]
 Kenya29,000 2[25]
 Belgium28,000 2[21]
 Barbados27,000 2[26]
 Italy26,000[5]
 Saudi Arabia26,000 2
 Jamaica25,000 2[26]
 Trinidad and Tobago25,000 2[27]
 Japan23,000 2[5]
 Hong Kong19,405 1 2[28]
3,400,000 3[29]
33,733 4[28]
 Greece18,000 2
 Finland16,732[30]
Languages
Religion
Mainly Christianity (Anglicanism, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism)
see also: Religion in the United Kingdom

1. People who identify of full or partial British ancestry born into that country.
2. UK-born people who identify of British ancestry only.
3. British citizens by way of residency in the British overseas territories; however, not all have ancestry from the United Kingdom.
4. British citizens or nationals.

The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies.[31][32][33] 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.[32] 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[34][35][36][37][38] in 1707 triggered a sense of British national identity.[39] The notion of Britishness was forged during the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and the First French Empire, and developed further during the Victorian era.[39][40] The complex history of the formation of the United Kingdom created a "particular sense of nationhood and belonging" in Great Britain and Ireland;[39] Britishness became "superimposed on much older identities", of English, Scots, Welsh and Irish cultures, whose distinctiveness still resists notions of a homogenised British identity.[41] Because of longstanding ethno-sectarian divisions, British identity in Northern Ireland is controversial, but it is held with strong conviction by Unionists.[42]

Modern Britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic groups that settled in the British Isles in and before the 11th century: Prehistoric, Brittonic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Normans.[43] 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.[44][45] 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.[46]

The British are a diverse, multinational,[47][48] multicultural and multilingual society, with "strong regional accents, expressions and identities".[49][50] 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. The population of the UK stands at around 66 million,[51] with a British diaspora of around 140 million concentrated in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, with smaller concentrations in the United States, Republic of Ireland, Chile, South Africa and parts of the Caribbean.[52]

History of the term

The earliest known reference to the inhabitants of Great Britain may have come from 4th century BC records of the voyage of Pytheas, a Greek geographer who made a voyage of exploration around the British Isles. Although none of his own writings remain, writers during the time of the Roman Empire made much reference to them. Pytheas called the islands collectively αἱ Βρεττανίαι (hai Brettaniai), which has been translated as the Brittanic Isles, and the peoples of what are today England, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man of Prettanike were called the Πρεττανοί (Prettanoi), Priteni, Pritani or Pretani.

The group included Ireland, which was referred to as Ierne (Insula sacra "sacred island" as the Greeks interpreted it) "inhabited by the different race of Hiberni" (gens hibernorum), and Britain as insula Albionum, "island of the Albions".[53][54] The term Pritani may have reached Pytheas from the Gauls, who possibly used it as their term for the inhabitants of the islands.[54]

Greek and Roman writers, in the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, name the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland as the Priteni,[55] the origin of the Latin word Britanni. It has been suggested that this name derives from a Gaulish description translated as "people of the forms", referring to the custom of tattooing or painting their bodies with blue woad made from Isatis tinctoria.[56] Parthenius, a 1st-century[clarification needed] Ancient Greek grammarian, and the Etymologicum Genuinum, a 9th-century lexical encyclopaedia, mention a mythical character Bretannus (the Latinised form of the Ancient Greek: Βρεττανός, Brettanós) as the father of Celtine, mother of Celtus, the eponymous ancestor of the Celts.[57]

By 50 BC Greek geographers were using equivalents of Prettanikē as a collective name for the British Isles.[58] However, with the Roman conquest of Britain the Latin term Britannia was used for the island of Great Britain, and later Roman-occupied Britain south of Caledonia, although the people of Caledonia and the north were also the self same Britons during the Roman period, the Gaels arriving four centuries later.[59][60] Following the end of Roman rule in Britain, the island of Great Britain was left open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors such as Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxons and Jutes from Continental Europe, who gained control in areas around the south east, and to Middle Irish-speaking people migrating from what is today Northern Ireland to the north of Great Britain (modern Scotland), founding Gaelic kingdoms such as Dál Riata and Alba, which would eventually subsume the native Brittonic and Pictish kingdoms and become Scotland.[61]

In this sub-Roman Britain, as Anglo-Saxon culture spread across southern and eastern Britain and Gaelic through much of the north, the demonym "Briton" became restricted to the Brittonic-speaking inhabitants of what would later be called Wales, Cornwall, North West England (Cumbria), and parts of Scotland[62] such as Strathearn, Morayshire, Aberdeenshire and Strathclyde.[63] In addition the term was also applied to Brittany in what is today France and Britonia in north west Spain, both regions having been colonised by Britons in the 5th century fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasions. However, the term Britannia persisted as the Latin name for the island. The Historia Brittonum claimed legendary origins as a prestigious genealogy for Brittonic kings, followed by the Historia Regum Britanniae which popularised this pseudo-history to support the claims of the Kings of England.[64]

During the Middle Ages, and particularly in the Tudor period, the term "British" was used to refer to the Welsh people and Cornish people. At that time, it was "the long held belief that these were the remaining descendants of the Britons and that they spoke 'the British tongue'".[64] This notion was supported by texts such as the Historia Regum Britanniae, a pseudohistorical account of ancient British history, written in the mid-12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth.[64] The Historia Regum Britanniae chronicled the lives of legendary kings of the Britons in a narrative spanning 2000 years, beginning with the Trojans founding the ancient British nation and continuing until the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain in the 7th century forced the Britons to the west, i.e. Wales and Cornwall, and north, i.e. Cumbria, Strathclyde and northern Scotland.[64] This legendary Celtic history of Great Britain is known as the Matter of Britain. The Matter of Britain, a national myth, was retold or reinterpreted in works by Gerald of Wales, a Cambro-Norman chronicler who in the 12th and 13th centuries used the term British to refer to the people later known as the Welsh.[65]

Other Languages
العربية: بريطانيون
Bân-lâm-gú: Eng-kok-lâng
български: Британци
čeština: Britové
Cymraeg: Prydeinwyr
dansk: Briter
Esperanto: Britoj
euskara: Britainiar
français: Britanniques
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Yîn-koet-ngìn
한국어: 영국인
hrvatski: Britanci
Igbo: British
italiano: Britannici
עברית: בריטים
ქართული: ბრიტანელები
македонски: Британци
Nederlands: Britten (volk)
日本語: イギリス人
polski: Brytyjczycy
português: Britânico
română: Britanici
русский: Британцы
Simple English: British people
slovenščina: Britanci
српски / srpski: Britanci
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Britanci
suomi: Britit
svenska: Britter
Türkçe: Britanyalılar
українська: Британці
粵語: 英國人
中文: 英国人