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New Tower Hamlets census data released

A busy and bustling Brick Lane

Busy Brick Lane scene

The latest figures on nationalities, ethnicities, languages and religions in Tower Hamlets, captured in the 2021 census, have been released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The census, which is carried out every ten years, provides a snapshot of Tower Hamlets, London, and England and Wales overall on the day in which it was carried out - 21 March 2021.

The latest release of figures follows the publication of the initial results announced in July 2022, and reveal that:     


  • Across England and Wales, in 2021, 81.7% of the residents were from white backgrounds (down from 86% in 2011) and 74.4% were White British.
  • London is the most ethnically diverse area of the country. Across London there has been an 8.1% decrease in people from White backgrounds, down from 3.7m (44.9% of the total) in 2011 to 3.2m (36.8%) in 2021.
  • One in six Bangladeshi residents across England and Wales live in Tower Hamlets. Locally, the Bangladeshi population remains by far the largest in the country in both proportionate (34.6%) and numerical (107,333) terms.
  • The local Bangladeshi population in Tower Hamlets is almost twice the size of the next largest within a local authority area. After Tower Hamlets, Newham with 55,677 Bangladeshi residents has the second highest local Bangladeshi population.
  • At 22.9% the White British population in Tower Hamlets is the fourth smallest in England and Wales behind Newham, Brent and Harrow.
  • In 2021 there were 45,187 White Other residents in Tower Hamlets; 14.6% of the overall local population, a significant increase compared to 2011.
  • In 2021, 6,180 residents identified as Somali or Somalilander, this is 2% of the overall population.
  • The Black African population has increased. 5% of residents of Tower Hamlets identified as Black African which, at 5% of the local population is double the proportion of England and Wales as a whole (2.5%) but lower than the rate in London (7.9%).
  • The local Chinese population in Tower Hamlets (3.3%) is the third highest proportion in England and Wales, behind City of London and Cambridge.
  • Tower Hamlets has the fourth largest Roma population in England and Wales after Brent, Sheffield and Newham. (2,225 people identified as Roma in Tower Hamlets).


  • Nationally, for the first time, the Census reports that less than half of residents across England and Wales identify as Christian (46.2%) though this is still the largest single religion nationally.
  • Tower Hamlets has the largest proportion of Muslim residents of any local authority area across England and Wales. In Tower Hamlets, 39.9% of residents (123,912 people) reporting that they were Muslim. This is an increase compared to the last Census in 2011 when 34.5% stated they were Muslim.
  • Just 22.3% of residents in Tower Hamlets stated their religion as Christian which is the lowest proportion of any local authority area across England and Wales.
  • The largest increase was seen in those reporting ‘no religion’. 19.1% of residents stated they had ‘no religion’ in 2011.  The 2021 Census shows 26.6% of Tower Hamlets residents in 2021 identify themselves as having no religion.


  • 73% of residents in Tower Hamlets reported that English is their main spoken language and an additional 20.7% of residents stated that, whilst it is not their main language, they can speak English well or very well. 6.2% of residents don’t speak English well or at all.
  • Proficiency in spoken English has improved slightly in the decade between 2011 and 2021. In 2011, 8% of residents could not speak English well or at all, compared to just 6.2% of residents in 2021. 
  • After English, Bengali is the most commonly spoken language in Tower Hamlets (11%) then Italian (2.2%) and Spanish (1.7%).

 National identity

  • In England and Wales, 90.3% of residents identified with at least one UK national identity (English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British, and Cornish) in 2021 which is a very slight decrease from 2011 (92%).
  • In Tower Hamlets, just 73.5% of residents identified with at least one UK national identity and 26.5% stated non-UK national identities.

Where to find more information: The ONS website 

Posted on Tuesday 6th December 2022