(Bloomberg) -- England and Wales are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever, but London remains by far the most multi-cultural region.

The number of people identifying as Asian rose from 7.5% to 9.3% of the population of 59.6 million between 2011 and 2021 while the Black population increased from 3.3% to 4%, according to census data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday. 

Overall, the proportion of non-White people has risen to 18.3% of residents in England and Wales. The White British group, while still a majority, decreased to 74.4%, a continued decline from 87.5% in 2001. 

In London, just under two-thirds of people identify with an ethnic minority group, whereas under one in 10 identify this way in the North East.

Such figures are collected and published once a decade, which means the release gives crucial insight into the changing demographics of the country. 

Race and ethnicity have proved fractious issues in recent years in the UK. Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on some ethnic minorities was followed by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and a contested report commissioned by the government which said the role of race had been over-emphasized in debates about inequality. 

Black people and other groups such as Bangladeshi and Pakistani people face worse outcomes than their White counterparts across different areas of life in the UK, including overcrowding in housing, discrimination in the workplace, and being stopped and searched by the police. 

Read more: UK Has a Stubborn, Unexplained Ethnicity Pay Gap, Study Shows

The figures also have implications for UK political parties. In the last general election in 2019, 64% of all Black and ethnic minority voters chose Labour, while 20% opted for the ruling Conservative party according to market research firm Ipsos. 

An earlier release this year showed that one in six people living in England and Wales were born abroad, with migration driving a 6.3% increase in the population over the 10-year period. 

The census also found that religious sentiment is on the decline, with more people not identifying with a religion. For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of people said they were Christian, although it was still the most common response. 

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