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Country Profiles: Key Statistics - Wales, August 2012

Released: 13 August 2012 Download PDF

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Population density: by unitary authority, 2010

Map showing range of population density in unitary authority areas within the Wales region
Source: Office for National Statistics


  1. Mid-year population estimates published on 30 June 2011

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Wales covers 20,700 square kilometres (sq km), is the third biggest of the UK countries and English regions, and covers 9 per cent of the total area of the UK. It has over 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) of coastline, including its offshore islands. The largest, Anglesey, is also the largest island in the Irish Sea. Wales is generally mountainous, with its highest peaks in the north and central areas, especially in Snowdonia.

The population density for Wales in mid-2010 was 145 people per sq km. Two-thirds of people in Wales (slightly under 2 million) live in urban (greater than 10,000 population) areas, concentrated mostly in the south east of the country.

In terms of population Wales is the third smallest country or region with 3.0 million in mid-2010. The population of Wales increased between 2001 and 2010 by 3.3 per cent, compared with an increase of 5.3 per cent for the UK over the same period.

People aged 65 and over made up 18.6 per cent of the population while those aged under 16 made up 18.2 per cent of the population in 2010. This compares with UK figures of 16.6 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively.

Life expectancy at birth for the three-year period 2008 to 2010 was 77.5 years for males and 81.7 years for females compared with 78.1 and 82.1 years respectively for the UK.

Almost 16 per cent of adults aged 16 to 64 had disabilities that limited their daily activities or work in the year ending March 2011, the highest proportion of all countries of the UK and English regions.

Wales had the third highest proportion of children living in workless households of all the countries and regions in the fourth quarter of 2011 (at 20.0 per cent). This compares with 15.8 per cent in Scotland and Northern Ireland and 15.7 per cent in England.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) average scores in 2009 for Wales were reading 476; maths 472; and science 496, compared with average scores across the OECD of 500. Scores in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were similar to each other in all three subjects and Wales scored the lowest of the four home nations in each subject.

Wales contributed almost 4 per cent of the UK’s gross value added (GVA) in 2010. Labour productivity (gross value added per hour worked) was 16.1 per cent below the UK average.

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of Wales’ residents was the fourth lowest of the UK countries and English regions at £13,800 per head in 2010.

There was a 1.9 per cent decrease in house prices in 2011, compared with decreases in Scotland (4.6 per cent) and Northern Ireland (8.5 per cent) and an increase in England (0.1 per cent).

The employment rate stood at 68.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the UK rate of 70.5 per cent.

In April 2011, the median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees on adult rates who were resident in Wales was £460, which compares with £491 in Scotland and £451 in Northern Ireland.

Wales reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent between 1990 and 2010.

The Regional Trends 43 article 'Rural and urban areas: comparing lives using rural/urban classifications (2.81 Mb Pdf) ' looks at rural and urban areas statistically for several themes including population, using geographical classifications.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Notes and sources:

    All data are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) unless stated below.

    The data section of this release provides more data.

    Population estimates and population density are for 30 June each year. The mid-2010 population estimates are those published on 30 June 2011.

    Life expectancy figures reflect mortality among those living in the area in each time period, rather than mortality among those born in each area. More information is available in Guide to: Life expectancy in the United Kingdom.

    Definitions of disability used for people (aged 16 to 64) who are DDA disabled.

    Workless households for areas across the UK provides more information about the employment of household and the adults and children living in them.

    The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) seeks to measure the extent to which students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life challenges. OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I), OECD Publishing.

    Gross value added (GVA) measures the economic output of an area. The estimates are workplace based, which allocates the incomes of individuals to their place of work.

    GVA per hour worked is one of the preferred measures of labour productivity. The labour productivity webpage provides access to the latest releases.

    Gross disposable household income (GDHI) is a good indicator of the welfare of residents of an area. It covers the income received by households and non profit-making institutions serving households and is net of tax payments.

    The House Price Index is based on mix-adjusted house prices, which allow for differences between houses sold (for example type, number of rooms, location). The annual rate of change shown is percentage change between December 2010 and December 2011.

    Employment rates are seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey (LFS) headline indicators, for all people aged 16 to 64.

    Median gross weekly earnings are residence-based estimates from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for full-time employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence.

    Greenhouse gas data is from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs.

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