Minority ethnic communities

Scotland has a long history of migration. Living in a society which is made up of people from different countries and ethnic groups has many advantages, but it can also pose many challenges for those responsible for providing public services such as health, social work, housing, education and employment.

Some important questions that are currently being discussed are:

  • How far should new and existing minority ethnic communities integrate?
  • Are separate services desirable or even necessary?
  • Who is going to provide for these communities in an environment of diminishing resources and increasing need?

The first step to understanding the issues and concerns that affect Scotland's minority ethnic communities is having accurate information. The following activity will help you discover your current level of knowledge.

Quiz: Minority ethnic statistics


According to the 2001 Census, what is the total minority ethnic population of Scotland (to the nearest thousand)?

  • 50,000
  • 75,000
  • 100,000

    The total minority ethnic population of Scotland is 101,677, or 2.01% of the total population. This represents growth of approximately 1% on the 1991 Census data.

  • 150,000
  • 200,000

Which local authority area has the largest minority ethnic population?

  • Argyll and Bute
  • City of Edinburgh
  • Glasgow City

    Glasgow has the largest minority ethnic population (31,522 or 5.4%).

  • Moray
  • South Lanarkshire

Which local authority area has the smallest minority ethnic population?

  • Aberdeenshire
  • Dundee City
  • Fife
  • Orkney Islands

    The Orkney Islands have the smallest minority ethnic population [85 or 0.44%].

  • Scottish Borders

How many towns reported a zero minority ethnic population?

  • 0
  • 1–4
  • 5–9
  • 10–14

    The number of towns reporting a zero minority ethnic population was 14.* The Census shows that the largest black and minority ethnic populations have settled in the largely urban and central areas of Scotland where, historically, opportunities for economic advancement have been available. Conversely, where a perception exists that there are fewer opportunities available (such as in rural or island communities), minority ethnic populations have tended to be smaller.

    * Towns with a population of less than 500 were excluded as it was felt that individuals could be identified
  • 15–19
  • 20–25

What are the three largest minority ethnic communities in Scotland in order of size?

  • African, Chinese & Bangladeshi
  • Bangladeshi, Caribbean & Pakistani
  • Pakistani, Chinese & Indian

    Historically, the three largest communities would have been identified as Pakistani, Chinese and Indian. With the entrance of Poland into the European Union, significant numbers of Poles have become resident in Scotland and may now constitute one of the largest ethnic groups.

  • Indian, Caribbean & African

What percentage of Scotland’s minority ethnic population is aged 60+ (to the nearest percentage point)?

  • 0–2%
  • 3–5%
  • 6–8%

    6.75% of the total minority ethnic population are aged 60+ compared with 21.3% of the white majority community.

  • 9–10%
  • 10% +

What percentage of Scotland’s minority ethnic population are aged under 30 (to the nearest percentage point)?

  • 0–20%
  • 21–30%
  • 31–40%
  • 41–50%
  • 51–60%

    The minority ethnic population in Scotland has a significantly younger age structure than the white majority population, with 56.05% of the total minority ethnic population aged under 30 compared with 36.2% of the white majority population.

  • 61% +

What percentage of Scotland’s minority ethnic population reported a limiting long-term illness in the 2001 Census (to the nearest percentage point)?

  • 0–5%
  • 6–10%
  • 11–15%

    12.4% of Scotland’s minority ethnic population reported a limiting long-term illness compared with 20.5% of the White majority population.

  • 16–20%
  • 21% +

What is the size of the minority ethnic carer population in Scotland (to the nearest thousand)?

  • 0–3,000
  • 3,001–4,000
  • 4,001–5,000
  • 5,001–6,000
  • 6,001–7,000

    The total size of Scotland’s minority ethnic carer population as recorded in the 2001 Census is 6,815. The Pakistani community recorded the highest number of informal carers at 2,754.

  • 7,001 +


Whilst the 2001 Census still remains the single most comprehensive source of information on Scotland’s black and minority ethnic communities, the data must be viewed with some caution. The most obvious qualification must be that the Census figures are now five years out of date and we know that there have been significant changes in Scotland’s minority ethnic communities. For example, estimates of the number of new Polish migrants range from 60,000 to 80,000 in Scotland.

Anecdotal evidence from black voluntary sector organisations also raises the possibility that ‘fear of officialdom’ prevented people from completing Census returns that could lead to significant under-reporting.