The island's residents can be grouped into five main cultures; Scottish, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Irish, and English, with respective languages Gaelic (Scottish and Irish), Mi'kmaq, French, and English. English is now the primary spoken language, though Mi'kmaq, Gaelic and French are still heard.
Later migrations of Black Loyalists, Italians, and Eastern Europeans mostly settled in the eastern part of the island around the Industrial Cape Breton region. The population of Cape Breton Island has been in decline for almost two decades with an increasing population exodus in recent years due to economic conditions.
According to the Census of Canada, the population of Cape Breton Island in 2011 was 135,974, a 4.4% decline from 142,298 in 2006, and a 14.1% decline from 158,260 in 1996.
Statistics Canada in 2001 reported a "religion" total of 145,525 for Cape Breton, including 5,245 with "no religious affiliation." Major categories included:
Roman Catholic : 96,260 (includes Eastern Catholic, Polish National Catholic Church, Old Catholic)
Christian, not included elsewhere: 580
A Synagogue in Sydney serves a small historic Jewish community which was once one of the largest ones in eastern Canada with four shuls: one in Glace Bay, one in New Waterford, one in Whitney Pier, and the one in Sydney. While more recent Muslim immigrants hold Friday prayers at Cape Breton University and the former Holy Redeemer Hall in Whitney Pier. Buddhists are a tiny minority (105 in 2001, according to Statistics Canada), although Gampo Abbey in Pleasant Bay has been operational since 1984.