|Councils of Scotland|
|Populations||21,400 (Orkney Islands) – 593,200 (Glasgow)|
|Areas||21 square miles (54 km2) (Dundee) - 11,838 square miles (30,660 km2) (Highland)|
|Subdivisions||Lieutenancy Area, Shire|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
For local government purposes, Scotland is divided into 32 areas designated as "council areas", which are all governed by single-tier authoritiesdesignated as "councils". They have the option under the Local Government (Gaelic Names) (Scotland) Act 1997 of being known (but not re-designated) as a "comhairle" when opting for a Gaelic name; only Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Council of the Western Isles) has chosen this option, whereas the Highland Council (Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd) has adopted its Gaelic form alongside its English equivalent informally.
The council areas have been in existence since 1 April 1996, under the provisions of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994. Historically, Scotland has been divided into 34 counties or shires. Although these no longer have any administrative function, they are still used to some extent in Scotland for cultural and geographical purposes, and some of the current council areas are named with reference to them. There are also a number of other administrative divisions, some of which are handled by joint boards of the councils.
At the most local level Scotland is divided into civil parishes, which are now used only for statistical purposes such as the census. The lowest level of administrative subdivision are the communities, which may elect community councils.
Traditionally burghs have been the key unit of the local government of Scotland, being highly autonomous entities, with rights to representation in the old Parliament of Scotland. Even after the Acts of Union 1707, burghs continued to be the principal subdivision. Until 1889 administration was on a burgh and parish basis.
The years following 1889 saw the introduction of a hierarchy of local government administration comprising counties, counties of cities, large burghs and small burghs.
With effect from 16 May 1975 and until 31 March 1996 the local government divisions of Scotland consisted of an upper tier of regions each containing a lower tier of districts except for the single-tier island council areas . Since 1996 there has only been a single tier of government, and the former island council areas are of equal status to the other councils.
|Rank||Council area||Population||Electors||Area (km²)||Density|
|1||City of Glasgow||626,410||462,286||174.7||3,586|
|2||City of Edinburgh||518,500||367,762||263.4||1,969|
|8||City of Aberdeen||227,560||163,196||185.7||1,225|
|12||Perth and Kinross||151,290||114,936||5,286||29|
|13||Dumfries and Galloway||148,790||116,593||6,427||23|
|14||City of Dundee||148,750||112,513||59.83||2,486|
|27||Argyll and Bute||86,260||68,271||6,909||12|
|30||Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles)||26,830||21,874||3,059||9|
Scotland has several other administrative divisions, some of which are handled by joint boards of the councils.
There are several joint boards for electoral registration and the purposes of property valuation for assessing council tax and rates.
|Joint board area||Council areas|
| Ayrshire |
Ayrshire and Arran in other contexts
|East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire|
|Central Scotland||Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling|
|Dumfries and Galloway||Dumfries and Galloway|
|Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute||Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire|
|Grampian||Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray|
|Highlands and Western Isles||Highland and Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles)|
|Lanarkshire||North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire|
|Lothian||East Lothian, Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian|
|Orkney and Shetland||Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands|
|Renfrewshire||East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire|
|Tayside||Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross|
See also NHS Scotland
|Health board area||Council areas|
|Ayrshire and Arran||East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire|
|Dumfries and Galloway||Dumfries and Galloway|
| Forth Valley |
in other contexts
|Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling|
|Grampian||Aberdeenshire, City of Aberdeen and Moray|
|Greater Glasgow and Clyde|| City of Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, |
Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire
|Highland||Argyll and Bute and Highland|
|Lanarkshire||North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire|
|Lothian||City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian|
|Tayside||Angus, City of Dundee and Perth and Kinross|
|Western Isles (Eileanan Siar)||Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan Siar)|
Until 1 April 2014 the towns of Cambuslang and Rutherglen were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area despite being located in South Lanarkshire. They are now part of NHS Lanarkshire.
The Scottish Government has created seven "Regional Transport Partnerships", for establishing transport policy in the regions. They broadly follow council area groupings.
|RTP area||Council areas|
|TACTRAN||Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Stirling|
|HITRANS||Argyll and Bute (except Helensburgh and Lomond), Highland, Moray, Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles), Orkney|
|SEStran||Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Midlothian, Fife, Scottish Borders, West Lothian|
|SWESTRANS||Dumfries and Galloway|
|Strathclyde Partnership for Transport||Argyll and Bute (Helensburgh and Lomond only), West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire|
In the Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), Scotland is a level-1 NUTS region, coded "UKM", which is subdivided as follows:
|NUTS 1||Code||NUTS 2||Code||NUTS 3||Code|
|Scotland||UKM||Eastern Scotland||UKM2||Angus and Dundee||UKM21|
|Clackmannanshire and Fife||UKM22|
|East Lothian and Midlothian||UKM23|
|Perth and Kinross, and Stirling||UKM27|
|South Western Scotland||UKM3||East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, and Helensburgh and Lomond||UKM31|
|Dumfries and Galloway||UKM32|
|East and North Ayrshire mainland||UKM33|
|Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, and Renfrewshire||UKM35|
|North Eastern Scotland||UKM5||Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire||UKM50|
|Highlands and Islands||UKM6||Caithness and Sutherland, and Ross and Cromarty||UKM61|
|Inverness, Nairn, Moray, and Badenoch and Strathspey||UKM62|
|Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, Arran and Cumbrae, and Argyll and Bute (except Helensburgh and Lomond)||UKM63|
|Eilean Siar (Western Isles)||UKM64|
The current land registration system in Scotland divides Scotland into 33 Registration Counties,each coming into effect on various dates between 1981 and 2003. These areas in most cases resemble those of the pre-1975 administrative counties with Glasgow being the only current city to form a registration county.
|Registration county||Operational from|
|County of Renfrew||6 April 1981|
|County of Dumbarton||4 October 1982|
|County of Lanark||3 January 1984|
|County of the Barony and Regality of Glasgow||30 September 1985|
|County of Clackmannan||1 October 1992|
|County of Stirling||1 April 1993|
|County of West Lothian||1 October 1993|
|County of Fife||1 April 1995|
|County of Aberdeen||1 April 1996|
|County of Kincardine||1 April 1996|
|County of Ayr||1 April 1997|
|County of Dumfries||1 April 1997|
|County of Kirkcudbright||1 April 1997|
|County of Wigtown||1 April 1997|
|County of Angus||1 April 1999|
|County of Kinross||1 April 1999|
|County of Perth||1 April 1999|
|County of Berwick||1 October 1999|
|County of East Lothian||1 October 1999|
|County of Peebles||1 October 1999|
|County of Roxburgh||1 October 1999|
|County of Selkirk||1 October 1999|
|County of Argyll||1 April 2000|
|County of Bute||1 April 2000|
|County of Midlothian||1 April 2001|
|County of Inverness||1 April 2002|
|County of Nairn||1 April 2002|
|County of Banff||1 April 2003|
|County of Caithness||1 April 2003|
|County of Moray||1 April 2003|
|Counties of Orkney and Zetland||1 April 2003|
|County of Ross and Cromarty||1 April 2003|
|County of Sutherland||1 April 2003|
Sheriffdoms are judicial areas. Since 1 January 1975, these have been six in number:
The Lieutenancy areas of Scotland are the areas used for the ceremonial lord-lieutenants, the monarch's representatives. The areas are similar to the Historic Counties and the Registration Counties, but are not identical to either. Most notably, the four cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow form separate areas from the surrounding countryside, with the Lord Provost of each city acting ex officio as the lord-lieutenant.
|Lieutenancy areas of Scotland|
The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 resulted in the merger of local police and fire services on 1 April 2013 to form the Police Service of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis Phoilis na h-Alba) and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS, Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis Smàlaidh agus Teasairginn na h-Alba).
Prior to 1975 policing was the responsibility of the Cities and Burghs of Scotland (see List of burghs in Scotland). Between 1975 and 2013 Scotland was subdivided into Police and fire service areas based on the regions and districts and island council areas that were also formed in 1975. The police and fire service regions used between 1975 and 2013 are listed below.
|Services||Original area (former regions)||Council areas|
| Central Scotland Police |
Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service
|Central||Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling|
| Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary |
Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service
|Dumfries and Galloway||Dumfries and Galloway|
| Fife Constabulary |
Fife Fire and Rescue Service
| Grampian Police |
Grampian Fire and Rescue Service
|Grampian||Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray|
| Lothian and Borders Police |
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service
|Lothians and the Scottish Borders||City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Scottish Borders, West Lothian|
| Northern Constabulary |
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service
|Highland, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles||Highland, Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles), Orkney |
| Strathclyde Police |
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue
|Strathclyde|| Argyll and Bute, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire |
East Renfrewshire, the City of Glasgow, Inverclyde,
North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire,
South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire
| Tayside Police |
Tayside Fire and Rescue Service
|Tayside||Angus, the City of Dundee and Perth & Kinross|
Scotland is divided into 871 civil parishes which often resemble same-named but legally different ecclesiastical parishes. Although they have had no administrative function since 1930, they still exist and are still used for statistical purposes such as the census. Many former civil parish areas also continue to form current registration districts. Many boundary changes have occurred over the years and an area currently derived from an old parish might no longer contain a place previously within that parish. Similarly, county boundaries (as still used for land registration) have also changed over the years such that a parish mentioned historically (generally before the 1860s) as being in one county (or sometimes two due to straddling a border) might now be in a neighbouring county and consequentially in a different succeeding council area.
For most administrative purposes, the base level of sub-division in Scotland is now that of communities, which may elect community councils. The main role of these bodies is to channel and reflect local opinion to other bodies; they otherwise have very limited powers. There are around 1,200 communities in Scotland. Not all communities have councils; some have joint councils.
Scottish communities are the nearest equivalent to civil parishes in England.
Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; it borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.
A unitary authority is a type of local authority that has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national government.
Ayrshire is a historic county and registration county in south-west Scotland, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine and it borders the counties of Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire to the north-east, Dumfriesshire to the south-east, and Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire to the south. Like many other counties of Scotland it currently has no administrative function, instead being sub-divided into the council areas of North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire. It has a population of approximately 366,800.
Local government in Scotland is organised through 32 unitary authorities designated as councils which consist of councillors elected every five years by registered voters in each of the council areas.
Dunbartonshire or the County of Dumbarton is a historic county, lieutenancy area and registration county in the west central Lowlands of Scotland lying to the north of the River Clyde. Dunbartonshire borders Perthshire to the north, Stirlingshire to the east, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire to the south, and Argyllshire to the west. The boundaries with Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire are split in two owing to the existence of an exclave around Cumbernauld.
The counties or shires of Scotland are geographic subdivisions of Scotland established in the Middle Ages. Originally established for judicial purposes, from the 17th century they started to be used for local administration purposes as well. The areas used for judicial functions (sheriffdoms) came to diverge from the shires, which ceased to be used for local government purposes after 1975 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
The lieutenancy areas of Scotland are the areas used for the ceremonial lord-lieutenants, the monarch's representatives, in Scotland. The lord-lieutenants' titles chosen by the monarch and her legal advisers are mainly based on placenames of the traditional counties of Scotland. In 1794 permanent lieutenancies were established by Royal Warrant. By the Militia Act 1797, the lieutenants appointed "for the Counties, Stewartries, Cities, and Places" were given powers to raise and command County Militia Units.
Tayside was one of the nine regions used for local government in Scotland from 15 May 1975 to 31 March 1996. The region was named for the River Tay.
Caithness is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland.
Roxburghshire or the County of Roxburgh is a historic county and registration county in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. It borders Dumfriesshire to the west, Selkirkshire and Midlothian to the north-west, and Berwickshire to the north. To the south-west it borders Cumberland and to the south-east Northumberland, both in England.
The County of Kinross or Kinross-shire is a historic county and registration county in eastern Scotland, administered as part of Perth and Kinross since 1930. Surrounding its largest settlement and county town of Kinross, the county borders Perthshire to the north and Fife to the east, south and west.
Stirlingshire or the County of Stirling is a historic county and registration county of Scotland. Its county town is Stirling.
Strathclyde was one of nine former local government regions of Scotland created in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and abolished in 1996 by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994. The Strathclyde region had 19 districts. The region was named after the medieval Kingdom of Strathclyde but covered a broader geographic area than its namesake.
Strathkelvin is the strath of the River Kelvin in west central Scotland, close to the city of Glasgow. The name Strathkelvin was formerly (1975–96) used for one of nineteen local government districts in the Strathclyde region of Scotland.
The local government areas of Scotland were redefined by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and redefined again by the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994.
Renfrewshire or the County of Renfrew is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. It contains the local government council areas of Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, as well as parts of Glasgow and is occasionally named Greater Renfrewshire to distinguish the county from the modern council area.
The History of local government in Scotland is a complex tale of largely ancient and long established Scottish political units being replaced after the mid 20th century by a frequently changing series of different local government arrangements.
A council area is one of the areas defined in Schedule 1 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 and is under the control of one of the local authorities in Scotland created by that Act.
Local government areas covering the whole of Scotland were first defined by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889. As currently defined, they are a result, for the most part, of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994.
The Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland, usually called the Wheatley Commission or the Wheatley Report, was published in September 1969 by the chairmanship of Lord Wheatley. Its recommendations led to a new system of regional and district councils, introduced in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.