Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom

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Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom
Total population
UK residents born in Zimbabwe
110,000 (2013 ONS estimate)
Population of Zimbabwean origin
200,000–500,000 (2006 community leader estimates)
Regions with significant populations
London · Luton · Leeds · Slough · Milton Keynes · Manchester · Birmingham
English · Shona · Ndebele
Protestantism · Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Black British · White people in Zimbabwe

Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom are people who have migrated from Zimbabwe to the UK and their descendants. The Zimbabwean community in the UK is diverse, consisting of individuals of differing racial, ethnic, class, and political groups.[1] There are asylum seekers, refugees, labour migrants, students, undocumented migrants, and others who have gained British citizenship.[1]

History and settlement

The International Organization for Migration has characterised Zimbabwean migration to the UK as divided into three waves. The initial wave of significant Zimbabwean migration consisted of White Zimbabweans who migrated after the country's transition to Black majority rule in 1980. The second major wave lasted from 1990–97, caused by the economic hardship that resulted from Zimbabwe's application of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's Structural Adjustment Programme. The third wave began in 1998 and has resulted from political and social unrest in Zimbabwe. Prior to November 2002, Zimbabweans were free to travel to the UK without a visa and this provided a route to political asylum. In November 2002, the UK Government introduced the requirement for Zimbabweans to apply for visas in order to travel to the UK, making it more difficult for them to apply for asylum.[1] The number of Zimbabweans applying for asylum has fallen, and increasing numbers have sought refuge in South Africa instead.[2]



The majority of Zimbabweans in the UK are first-generation immigrants.[1] According to Census figures, in 1971 some 7,905 people born in what is now Zimbabwe were living in the UK. This figure rose to 16,330 in 1981 and to 21,252 in 1991.[1] The 2001 UK Census recorded 49,524 people residing in the UK who had been born in Zimbabwe.[3] The Office for National Statistics estimates that in 2013 there were 110,000 people resident in the UK who had been born in Zimbabwe.[4]

Unofficial estimates of the total Zimbabwean British population, including those born in the UK of Zimbabwean origin,[failed verification] vary significantly.[1] Numerous newspapers have speculated that the population might be as large as one million, including an estimate of 600,000 by The Observer in 2003,[1] but community organisations and leaders put the population in the range of 200,000 to 500,000.[1]

Spread and distribution

The Zimbabwean population is widely dispersed across the UK.[1] The largest communities can be found in the UK's larger cities and towns. The table below shows the geographic spread of Zimbabwean people in the UK in 2006, based on estimates by community leaders.[1]

Zimbabwean population
40,000 London
20,000 each Leeds, Luton
10,000 each Birmingham, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Slough
5,000 each Coventry, Glasgow, Leicester, Wolverhampton
3,000 each Edinburgh, Liverpool
2,000 Bristol
1,000 each Cardiff, Oxford

Culture and community


Community groups




Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Zimbabwe: Mapping Exercise" (PDF). London: International Organization for Migration. December 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  2. ^ Cooley, Laurence; Rutter, Jill (2007). "Turned away? Towards better protection for refugees fleeing violent conflict". Public Policy Research. 14 (3): 176–180. doi:10.1111/j.1744-540X.2007.00485.x.
  3. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 11 May 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Table 1.3: Overseas-born population in the United Kingdom, excluding some residents in communal establishments, by sex, by country of birth, January 2013 to December 2013". Office for National Statistics. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015. Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95 per cent confidence intervals.
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