The majority of people in Scotland now say they have no religion for the first time.

The latest data from the 2022 census to be released found that 51.1% of people had no religion, up from 36.7% in 2011.

The question is voluntary and was first introduced in 2001, when just 27.5% said they had no religious beliefs.

The largest decrease has been in followers of the Church of Scotland, with 42.4% identifying as a follower in 2002.

That has dropped to 20.4%, a fall of 610,100 people since 2011, and more than one million since 2001, though Church of Scotland remains the largest group for those who identified as religious.

The next largest religious groups were Roman Catholic (13.3%), Other Christian (5.1%) and Muslim (2.2%).

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There was a slight increase in followers of Islam between 2011 and 2022, from 1.45% to 2.2%, with Hindu rising from 0.31% to 0.55% and Sikh from 0.17% to 0.20%.

The number of respondents identifying as being of the Jewish faith remained steady at 0.11% while 0.35% said they were Pagan.

Of the people who completed the census, 6.16% opted not to answer the question.

Males (53.8%) were more likely to have no religion than females (48.6%). This was also true in 2011 and 2001.

All age groups saw an increase in people who said they were of no religion, and in the 65+ age group the number with no religion has more than doubled since 2011 - an increase of 186,700 people (from 14.1% to 28.6%).

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No religion was the most common response in every council area in Scotland except in Na h-Eileanan Siar and Inverclyde, where Church of Scotland (35.3%) and Roman Catholic (33.4%) were the most common responses respectively. In Na h-Eileanan Siar the percentage of people with no religion increased from 11.4% in 2001 to 29.9% in 2022.

The latest released data also deals with ethnic background.

The percentage of people in Scotland with a minority ethnic background increased from 8.2% in 2011 to 12.9% in 2022.

In the 'white' category, 87.1% of people identified either as 'Scottish' or 'Other British'. Groups contained in that category such as Irish, Polish, Gypsy/Traveler, Roma and Showman/Showwoman were defined as a minority ethnic group.

There was an increase of 29,500 people in the Polish category, 1.67% of the population, and the ‘other white’ category saw an increase of 56,600 people, around 75% of whom identified as 'European'.

The percentage of people born outside the UK increased from 7.0% to 10.2% between 2011 and 2022 but there was also an increase in those who said they speak, read and write English well or very well from 93.8% to 94.2%.

Scotland’s population grew by 144,400 (2.7%), largely thanks to migration.

The number of people living in Scotland who were born in the country decreased by 90,400, but was offset by increases in the number who were born in the rest of the UK (up 49,200) and born overseas (up 185,600).

There were more people in the older age groups in 2022 than ever recorded, with more than one million over-65s.

Without migration there would have been fewer people in younger age groups.

In 2022 17.8% of Scotland’s population aged between 20 and 39 were born outside the UK.  But the overall percentage of people born outside the UK is still relatively small (10.2%).

The data also showed what may be an increasing polarisation on the constitutional question.

The percentage of people who said Scottish was their only national identity increased since the previous census (from 62.4% to 65.5%). The percentage who said their only national identity was British also increased (from 8.4% to 13.9%). The percentage who said they felt Scottish and British decreased (from 18.3% to 8.2%).

A higher percentage of females (66.3%) said their only national identity was Scottish compared to males (64.6%).

The census found that 2.5% of people aged 3 and over had some skills in Gaelic in 2022. This is an increase of 43,100 people since 2011 when 1.7% had some skills in Gaelic. In 2001 1.9% had some Gaelic skills, similar to 2011. 

In Na h-Eileanan Siar the majority had some Gaelic skills (57.2%). This was far higher than the next highest council areas, Highland (8.1%) and Argyll and Bute (6.2%). In all other council areas less than 3% of people aged 3 and over had some Gaelic skills.