Historically, the English population is descended from several peoples – the earlier Celtic Britons (or Brythons) and the Germanic tribes that settled in Britain following the withdrawal of the Romans, including Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. Collectively known as the Anglo-Saxons, they founded what was to become England (from the Old English Englaland) along with the later Danes, Anglo-Normans and other groups. In the Acts of Union 1707, the Kingdom of England was succeeded by the Kingdom of Great Britain. Over the years, English customs and identity have become fairly closely aligned with British customs and identity in general.
Today many English people have recent forebears from other parts of the United Kingdom, while some are also descended from more recent immigrants from other European countries and from the Commonwealth.
The English people are the source of the English language, the Westminster system, the common law system and numerous major sports such as cricket, football, rugby union, rugby league and tennis. These and other English cultural characteristics have spread worldwide, in part as a result of the former British Empire.
The concept of an 'English nation' (as opposed to a British one) has become increasingly popular after the devolution process in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland resulted in the four nations having semi-independent political and legal systems. Although England itself has no devolved government, the 1990s witnessed a rise in English self-consciousness. This is linked to the expressions of national self-awareness of the other British nations of Wales and Scotland – which take their most solid form in the new devolved political arrangements within the United Kingdom – and the waning of a shared British national identity with the growing distance between the end of the British Empire and the present.
Many recent immigrants to England have assumed a solely British identity, while others have developed dual or mixed identities. Use of the word "English" to describe Britons from ethnic minorities in England is complicated by most non-white people in England identifying as British rather than English. In their 2004 Annual Population Survey, the Office for National Statistics compared the ethnic identities of British people with their perceived national identity. They found that while 58% of white people in England described their nationality as "English", the vast majority of non-white people called themselves "British".