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Since 1 April 1996 Scotland has been divided into 32 Council Areas, each of which is governed by a unitary Council. Population, area and population density figures for each Council Area can be found here. A map of Council Areas Post 1996 is set out below.

Over the years Local Government in Scotland has been reorganised on a number of occasions. Up until 1890, there were 34 County Councils whose areas had evolved over the centuries from the mormaerdoms, stewartries and sheriffdoms of medieval Scotland. In 1890, these were reorganised into 33 County Councils, removing a number of enclaves and exclaves and producing a map that in some areas was much neater than the one it replaced. Maps of the Counties from 1890 to 1975 and Counties Before 1890 are set out below.

The biggest single change came in 1975. Counties were swept away, to be replaced by 12 Regions, with all those on the mainland being subdivided into between 3 and 19 Districts. A map of the Regions from 1975 to 1996 is set out below. You can also view a list of Regions and their Districts.

An equally dramatic change occurred in 1996 when the 12 regions were replaced by the current 32 Council Areas. Some of these reflect traditional counties that had disappeared in 1975, while others were based on Regions or Districts from the 1975 to 1996 era.

As a result of all these changes there remains considerable nostalgia amongst many in Scotland for the "lost" pre-1975 counties, and their names continue to crop up in descriptions of places and in addresses. You will even still find in fairly common use at least one name, Ross-shire, which technically ceased to exist in 1890.

The series of maps below move backwards in time, showing post-1996 Council areas; the 1975 Regions; the Counties introduced in 1890; and the pre-1890 Counties.

Key to Council Areas since 1996:

1. Inverclyde
2. Renfrewshire
3. West Dunbartonshire
4. East Dunbartonshire
5. City of Glasgow
6. East Renfrewshire
7. North Lanarkshire
8. Falkirk
9. West Lothian
10. City of Edinburgh
11. Midlothian
12. East Lothian
13. Clackmannanshire
14. Fife
15. City of Dundee
16. Angus
17. Aberdeenshire

Map Showing Council Areas of Scotland Since 1996Note About Image Copyright

Key to Council Areas since 1996:

18. City of Aberdeen
19. Moray
20. Highland
21. Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles)
22. Argyll & Bute
23. Perth and Kinross
24. Stirling
25. North Ayrshire
26. East Ayrshire
27. South Ayrshire
28. Dumfries & Galloway
29. South Lanarkshire
30. Scottish Borders

Not Shown:

Orkney Islands
Shetland Islands


From 1975 to 1996 local government in Scotland had a two-tier structure. There were 12 Regions, most divided into between three and nineteen Districts each, though three were not divided. Some council functions were delivered by the Regional Councils, while others were delivered by the District Councils. For the first time the Western Isles were brought under a single locally-based administration. A list of the districts within each region is can be found here.

Map Showing Regions of Scdotland from 1975-1996Note About Image Copyright

Key to Regions, 1975-1996:

1. Strathclyde
2. Dumfries and Galloway
3. Scottish Borders
4. Lothian
5. Central
6. Fife
7. Tayside
8. Grampian
9. Highland
10. Western Isles

Not Shown:

Orkney Islands
Shetland Islands


In 1890 Local Government in Scotland was reorganised into 33 County Councils. This system was to remain in place until 1975. The map was much neater than that in place before 1890, with only one exclave remaining, of Dunbartonshire (the name was changed from Dumbartonshire in the early 1900s) squeezed between Stirlingshire and Lanarkshire. The Western Isles remained spit between two counties whose county towns were at distant Dingwall and Inverness.

Key to Counties, 1890-1975:

1. Caithness
2. Sutherland
3. Ross and Cromarty
4. Inverness-shire
5. Nairnshire
6. County of Moray
7. Banffshire
8. Aberdeenshire
9. Kincardineshire
10. Angus (Forfarshire until 1928)
11. Perthshire
12. Argyll
13. County of Bute
14. Ayrshire
15. Renfrewshire
16. Dunbartonshire
17. Stirlingshire
18. Clackmannanshire
19. Kinross-shire
20. Fife
21. East Lothian (Haddingtonshire until 1921)
22. Midlothian (County of Edinburgh until 1921)

Map Showing Counties of Scotland from 1890Note About Image Copyright

23. West Lothian (Linlithgowshire until 1921)
24. Lanarkshire
25. Peeblesshire
26. Selkirkshire
27. Berwickshire
28. Roxburghshire
29. Dumfriesshire
30. Kirkcudbrightshire
31. Wigtownshire

Not Shown:

Orkney
Zetland


Up until 1890, Local Government in Scotland comprised 34 County Councils whose areas had evolved over the centuries from the mormaerdoms, stewartries and sheriffdoms of medieval Scotland. Because of this background, the arrangements were chaotic in places, with numerous enclaves and exclaves: islands of one county surrounded by another. Cromartyshire, which comprised a series of small areas scattered across Ross-shire, was the most obvious example. It is also striking how Lewis was governed as part of distant Ross-shire, while Harris and the Uists formed part of even more distant Inverness-shire.

Key to Counties, Pre-1890:

1. Caithness
2. Sutherland
3. Ross-shire
4. Cromartyshire
5. Inverness-shire
6. Nairnshire
7. County of Moray
8. Banffshire
9. Aberdeenshire
10. Kincardineshire
11. Forfarshire
12. Perthshire
13. Argyll
14. County of Bute
15. Ayrshire
16. Renfrewshire
17. Dumbartonshire
18. Stirlingshire
19. Clackmannanshire
20. Kinross-shire
21. Fife
22. Linlithgowshire
23. County of Edinburgh
24. Haddingtonshire
25. Berwickshire

Map Showing Counties of Scotland pre-1896Note About Image Copyright

26. Roxburghshire
27. Dumfriesshire
28. Kirkcudbrightshire
29. Wigtownshire
30. Lanarkshire
31. Selkirkshire
32. Peeblesshire

Not Shown:

Orkney
Zetland


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