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The Central Belt of Scotland is the area of highest population density within Scotland. It has a population of about 3.5 million covering an area of approximately 10,000 km2, including Greater Glasgow, Ayrshire, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife.
Despite the name, it is not geographically central[Note 1] but is nevertheless situated at the 'waist' of Scotland on a conventional map and the term 'central' is used in many local government, police and NGO designations.
It was formerly known as the Midlands or Scottish Midlands, but this term has fallen out of fashion.
Smaller Central Belt
The area is often considered as the triangle defined by the M8, M80 motorway and M9 motorways stretching from Greenock and Glasgow in the west to Edinburgh in the east, encompassing towns such as Paisley, Cambuslang, Hamilton, Stirling, Falkirk, Cumbernauld, Livingston and Bathgate. It has been referred to as the Lowland Triangle.
Larger Central Belt
The larger Central Belt is a trapezoid stretching from Dundee, to Ayr, and Dumbarton to Dunbar. This also takes in fairly densely populated areas such as Ayrshire, Fife, Midlothian and East Lothian. This area encompasses all the major cities of Scotland, except for Aberdeen and Inverness which are located in the north of the country.
Both of these areas also contain the bulk of Scotland's industrial works.
There are several terms in common usage in a Scottish context with a similar meaning to "Central Belt".
- The Central Lowlands is geologically defined and covers an area that stretches further to the north east than the Central Belt.
- The "Midland Valley" is a less commonly used expression synonymous with "Central Lowlands".
- The Scottish Lowlands are topographically and culturally defined and include all of Scotland outside of the Highlands and Islands, including the Southern Uplands.
- Central Scotland is a less well-defined term used to mean various things, including "Central Lowlands" and "Central Belt".