United Kingdom

The Majestic Isle

The first immigrants to British shores were probably families following their Roman soldiers in 55BC, followed closely by invading Scots and Vikings 700 years later. The Norman invasion of 1066 was that which gave Britain its French flavor for the next several centuries; but first, there were Jews in 1070, brought in by the Norman, William the Conqueror, and Roma immigrants in the 16th Century. French Protestant Huguenots sought shelter here during their periods of persecution by the Catholic Church; and Indians began to arrive as trade with Asia developed in the 17th Century.

Britain is still an extremely popular destination for migrants looking to improve their lives. The country still sees waves of immigrants flood to its shores, from persecuted Jews from Central and Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and early 20th century, World War 2 refugees, Afro-Caribbean immigrants, migrants from India and Pakistan in the second half of the 20th century and lately, economic migrants from Poland, the Baltic States and other Eastern European countries. Its status as a prosperous and rich country governed by the rule of law has been a magnet for over 100 years.

Britain has since developed an uneasy relationship with immigration, although British attitudes towards immigrants is one of the most open in the world. Membership in the European Union has forced the UK to accept immigration from other member states (a million and a half between 2004 and 2009) – indeed immigration quotas were one of the primary reasons for the public vote in 2016 to leave the EU.

Great Britain is a very crowded island, with a population of over 65 million and growing. London is the most popular city for migrants followed by the south-east and the east of England. The success of the British economy is evidently a factor that attracts immigrants. It would be safe to say that how the country develops in the lead-up and aftermath of Brexit will determine whether immigrants continue to make the UK a preferred destination.