Highland (council area)

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A' Ghàidhealtachd  (Scottish Gaelic)
Hieland  (Scots)
Highland in Scotland.svg
Flag of HighlandA' Ghàidhealtachd  (Scottish Gaelic)Hieland  (Scots)
Coat of arms of HighlandA' Ghàidhealtachd  (Scottish Gaelic)Hieland  (Scots)
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 57°30′N 5°00′W / 57.500°N 5.000°W / 57.500; -5.000Coordinates: 57°30′N 5°00′W / 57.500°N 5.000°W / 57.500; -5.000
Admin HQ Inverness
 • Body The Highland Council
(Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd
 • Control SNP + LD + Lab (council NOC)
 • MPs
 • MSPs
 • Total 9,906 sq mi (25,657 km2)
Area rank Ranked 1st
Population (mid-2015 est.)
 • Total 234,100
 • Rank Ranked 7th
 • Density 20/sq mi (9/km2)
ONS code S12000017
ISO 3166 code GB-HLD

Highland (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd; pronounced [kɛːəlˠ̪t̪əxk])[1] is a council area in the Scottish Highlands and is the largest local government area in the United Kingdom. It shares borders with the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Moray and Perth and Kinross. Their councils, and those of Angus and Stirling, also have areas of the Scottish Highlands within their administrative boundaries. The Highland area covers most of the mainland and inner-Hebridean parts of the historic counties of Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty, all of Caithness, Nairnshire and Sutherland and small parts of Argyll and Moray.

Gaelic language[edit]

According to the 2011 UK census, there are nearly 12,000 Scottish Gaelic speakers in the Highland area.[2]


Topographic map of Highland Council.[citation needed]

In 1975, the area was created as a two-tier region, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, with an elected council for the whole region and, in addition, elected councils for each of eight districts, Badenoch and Strathspey, Caithness, Inverness, Lochaber, Nairn, Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh and Sutherland.[3] The act also abolished county and burgh councils.

In 1996, under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, the Highland Regional Council and the district councils were wound up and their functions were transferred to a new Highland Council. The Highland Council adopted the districts as management areas and created area committees to represent them. However, the boundaries of committee areas ceased to be aligned exactly with those of management areas as a result of changes to ward boundaries in 1999. Ward boundaries changed again in 2007, and the management areas and related committees have now been abolished in favour of three new corporate management areas: Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey; and Ross, Skye and Lochaber. The names of these areas are also names of constituencies, but boundaries are different.[citation needed]

To many people within the area, using the name Highland as a noun sounds wrong. Dingwall in Highland, for example, sounds strange and is not idiomatic usage. To refer specifically to the area covered by the council, people tend to say the Highland Council area or the Highland area or the Highland region. Otherwise, they tend to use the traditional county names, such as Ross-shire. Highlands sometimes refers to the Highland council area. More usually it refers to a somewhat larger or overlapping area.[citation needed]

The Highland Council headquarters is located in Inverness with most previous district council offices retained as outstations.[citation needed]

Highland Council covers an area of 25,657 square kilometres (9,906 sq mi)[4] — which is 11.4% of the total size of Great Britain and is 20% larger than Wales.[5] The Highland and Islands division of Police Scotland also includes the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland (formerly Northern Constabulary) and therefore covers an area of 30,659 square kilometres (11,838 sq mi), which is larger than that of the state of Belgium.[6]

Highland Council's highest point is Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in both Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole. Its northernmost point is Stroma, a small island in the Pentland Firth. Its southernmost point is on the Morvern peninsula. Highland contains the westernmost point of the island of Great Britain, at Corrachadh Mòr. Despite the name, not all of Highland is mountainous. The areas east of Inverness, as well as the Black Isle, eastern Sutherland, and all of Caithness are, in fact, low-lying.



The Highland Council represents 22 wards, of which each elects three or four councillors by the single transferable vote system of election, to produce a form of proportional representation in a council of 80 members.

Political representation[edit]

Following the 2017 election, resulted in the following composition: [7]

Party Councillors
Independent 28
SNP 22
Conservative 10
Liberal Democrat 10
Labour 3
Scottish Green 1

Members of the Scottish Parliament[edit]

For elections to the Scottish Parliament the Highland area is within the Highlands and Islands electoral area, which elects eight first past the post constituency Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and seven additional member MSPs. Three of the region's constituencies, each electing one MSP, are within the Highland area: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, Inverness and Nairn and Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

Members of Parliament[edit]

In the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom the Highland area is represented by Members of Parliament (MPs) elected from three constituencies: Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; and Ross, Skye and Lochaber. Each constituency elects one MP by the first past the post system of election.

Towns and villages in the Highland Council Area[edit]

Historical Highland population
Year Pop. ±%
1801 164,294 —    
1811 173,235 +5.4%
1821 196,364 +13.4%
1831 211,947 +7.9%
1841 213,969 +1.0%
1851 220,004 +2.8%
1911 226,144 +2.8%
1921 176,396 −22.0%
1931 167,604 −5.0%
1941 166,602 −0.6%
1951 165,600 −0.6%
1961 169,133 +2.1%
1971 172,666 +2.1%
1981 186,916 +8.3%
1991 203,790 +9.0%
2001 208,914 +2.5%
2011 232,132 +11.1%

See also[edit]


External links[edit]