The mid-year population of the borough is estimated at 324,745. Asian/Asian British Bangladeshis make up 32% of the population. In 2011, Tower Hamlets was ranked as the most Muslim local authority in England and outnumbered Christians, according to the 2011 census.
In 2017 a joint study by Trust for London and New Policy Institute found Tower Hamlets to be the 2nd most deprived London borough (after Barking and Dagenham) based on an average calculated across a range of indicators; with high rates of poverty, child poverty, unemployment, and pay inequality compared to other London boroughs. As for secondary education outcomes, it has the lowest gap.
Tower Hamlets is in East London, north of the River Thames. The London Borough of Hackney lies to the west, while the River Lea forms the boundary with the London Borough of Newham to the east. In addition, Middlesex and Essex share a river as their boundary. In addition to the Tower Dock inlet, the borough's Thames frontage includes several miles of former docklands, including the Isle of Dogs peninsula, to the confluence of the Thames and Lea at Blackwall.
In the past, the Thames and Lea flood plains were frequently flooded, but the Thames Barrier, further east, has reduced the frequency of flooding.
The Regent's Canal enters the borough from Hackney to meet the River Thames at Limehouse Basin. An extension of the Hertford Union Canal joins the River Lea at Old Ford, north of Mile End. From Bromley-by-Bow to Limehouse Basin lies the Limehouse Cut, London's oldest canal. The majority of canal towpaths are accessible to people of all ages.
Among the open spaces in the Borough are Victoria Park, King Edward Memorial Park, Mile End Park, Island Gardens, and part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
It is home to many global financial businesses, with some of the highest paid workers in London, but also has the second highest unemployment rate in the city and high rates of long-term illness.
Among the many companies headquartered at Canary Wharf are Barclays, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, Infosys, and many others. Fitch Ratings, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, RBC, Skadden, State Street, and Thomson Reuters are among the top-end estate agents recommending 'extreme luxury' and ultra-modern residential properties at Canary Riverside, West India Quay, Pan Peninsula and Neo Bankside.
Tower Hamlets, according to the End Child Poverty coalition, has the highest proportion of poor children (54.5% in Bethnal Green South ward) among all local authorities in the UK.
The Child Poverty Action group conducted surveys and interviews for the council and found that Universal Credit was deeply unpopular among low-income families in the borough. Many claimants who have used it found it difficult to understand and experienced frequent errors in payments.