Subdivisions of Scotland
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politics and government of
For local government purposes, Scotland is divided into 32 areas designated as "council areas" which are all governed by unitary authorities designated 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 Gaidhealtachd) 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.
- 1 History of the subdivisions of Scotland
- 2 Council areas
- 3 Other subdivisions
- 4 Sheriffdoms
- 5 Civil parishes
- 6 Communities
- 7 See also
- 8 References
History of the subdivisions of Scotland
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.
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.
The 1996 reform of local government in Scotland, enacted by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, studiously avoided specifying a name for the area administered by a unitary authority. The boundaries of each council's jurisdiction often differed from those of both the regions and districts instituted in the 1970s and of the counties established in the 1890s, which were themselves often based on the shires or sheriffdoms, the first of which were established by Malcolm III. When one also takes into account the burghs the true complexity of the matter is revealed. Thus it is not actually known what the correct term for the areas governed by the new unitary councils is or even if there is one.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
|Argyll and Bute||2,712||7,023||88,200||13|
|Dumfries and Galloway||2,489||6,446||151,300||23|
|City of Edinburgh||100||260||476,600||1833|
|Perth and Kinross||2,083||5,395||146,700||27|
|Na h-Eileanan Siar||1,185||3,070||27,700||8|
Source: 2011 Census for Scotland
Scotland has several other administrative divisions, some of which are handled by joint boards of the councils.
Police and fire services
As of 1 April 2013 both the Police and fire services became a single National Police Force and a single National Fire Service. In the case of the Police force: The full legal name of the organisation, as described in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, is the Police Service of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis Phoilis na h-Alba). In the case of the Fire Service: The full legal name of the organisation, as described in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
Policing was the responsibility of the Cities and Burghs of Scotland. (see List of burghs in Scotland)
(1975 - 2013)
Electoral and valuation
|Joint board area||Council areas|
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|
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, together with
the towns of Cambuslang and Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire
|Highland||Argyll and Bute and Highland|
|Lanarkshire||North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire (excepting the towns of
Cambuslang and Rutherglen which are in the Greater Glasgow and
Clyde health board area)
|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)|
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, 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|
|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 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.
- Glasgow and Strathkelvin
- Grampian, Highland and Islands
- Lothian and Borders
- North Strathclyde
- South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway
- Tayside, Central and Fife
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. It should be noted that many boundary changes have occurred over the years and that 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.
The base level of sub-division in Scotland is that of communities which may elect community councils (CCs). The main role of the CCs is to channel local opinion to larger local-government bodies. Otherwise they 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.
- List of articles about local government in the United Kingdom
- ISO 3166-2:GB, subdivision codes for the United Kingdom
- With respect to Scotland the phrase "unitary authority" is merely descriptive; in the United Kingdom the phrase "unitary authority" as a designation is specific to local government areas in England.
- Local Government (Gaelic Names) (Scotland) Act 1997
- 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1B Table 2: Census day usually resident population by council area, 2001 and 2011 , Accessed 22 March 2013
- Scottish Assessors Association
- Registers of Scotland publication - Land Register Counties and Operational Dates
- The Sheriffdoms Reorganisation Order 1974 S.I. 1974/2087 (S.191)