Nairnshire was one of the 34 traditional counties into which Scotland was divided for administrative purposes. It was a relatively small county which extended inland from the county town of Nairn. It was bordered on its west by Inverness-shire, and on its east by the County of Moray.
Traditionally, Nairnshire also had stray exclaves in Inverness-shire, Ross-shire and the County of Moray. The reorganisation of counties in 1890 tidied up the map of Scotland in a number of areas, and Nairnshire's exclaves were lost to the counties that surrounded them.
A major reorganisation in 1975 removed the traditional counties from the map, replacing them with a two-tier structure of 12 Regions, many of which were subdivided into districts. Nairnshire became Nairn District, one of eight district councils that delivered a range of local level services within the wider area of the newly formed Highland Region.
When regions and districts disappeared from the scene in the 1996 reorganisation, Nairn District became part of the unitary council area of Highland. Initially Highland Council divided its coverage into eight management areas that were based on the eight districts, and Nairn formed one of them.
Since 2007, Highland Council has divided up its area rather differently into three operational areas. For the council's purposes, the area previously within Nairn District now forms a part of the "Inverness, Nairn, and Badenoch & Strathspey" operational area.