The non-white British population grew by more than half a million between 2001 and 2003, according to official figures published yesterday.
Over the same period, the white British population fell by more than 100,000, largely because of emigration and a low birth rate.
The white British and Irish are the only ethnic groups that registered a decline, the Office for National Statistics said. While the non-white group had an average annual growth rate of 3.8 per cent, the white British population declined by 0.1 per cent.
The fastest population growth—11 per cent a year—was registered among the Chinese community, mainly due to immigration, rather than a high birth rate among settled Chinese.
Growth in the Black African population is largely the result of asylum seekers, principally from Somalia and Zimbabwe.
The research, the first of its kind and based on the 2001 census, shows that the non-white British population was around 7.1 million in 2003, compared with 6.6 million in 2001.
The white British population fell from 42.9 million to 42.8 million in the same period.
More than 40 per cent of London’s population is non-white British, and the capital’s ethnic minority population grew by 68,000 over the period. However, non-white immigrants are now beginning to leave London for other parts of England, all of which have seen an increase in ethnic minorities.
The ONS said: “The results suggest the growth in urban areas such as London is being driven by international immi-gration while growth in less urban areas is largely attributable to immigration from those urban areas.”
Although the North East had the lowest population of non-white British communities at less than five per cent, it saw the fastest growth, with an increase of almost 10 per cent.
The Office for National Statistics said the figures had been published in response to “substantial demand” for up to date and reliable estimates of the population by ethnic group.
Government figures last month indicated that the population is projected to rise by more than seven million in the next 25 years and more than half of this will be the direct result of immigration, with another 30 per cent formed by the children of recent immigrants.