West Lothian is one of the 32 unitary council areas into which Scotland has been divided since 1996. It lies on the south side of the River Forth to the west of Edinburgh and in recent decades has moved away from a reliance on coal and oil shale mining to electronics and service based industries. For accommodation in West Lothian and a full list of features, see our Edinburgh & Lothians area pages.
West Lothian ranks as the 20th largest local authority area in terms of physical size and the 10th largest in terms of population: a reflection of rapid economic growth and, in particular, the development of the new town of Livingston. The area is well served by road and rail links and is crossed by the M8 and M9 motorways.
The main settlements in West Lothian are Livingston, Armadale, Bathgate, Linlithgow, and Whitburn. Modern West Lothian is bordered by the unitary authority areas of Falkirk, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Scottish Borders and the City of Edinburgh.
Historically, West Lothian was one of the traditional counties into which Scotland was divided prior to 1975. It only became known as West Lothian, however, following a minor reorganisation in 1921 which changed its name from Linlithgowshire.
West Lothian remained a county in its own right until reorganisation in 1975 swept all the counties away in favour of 12 regions. The regions formed in 1975 were the upper tier of a two tier local authority system, and the traditional county area of West Lothian became part of the region of Lothian.
Most regions were divided into a number of district council areas, and Lothian had four. As part of the reorganisation West Lothian became a district council area. It also lost the area around Bo'ness to the newly formed Falkirk District in Central Region, and South Queensferry. to the new City of Edinburgh District.
Regions and districts disappeared from the scene in a major reorganisation in 1996, being replaced by 32 unitary council areas. Lothian's four district councils, including West Lothian, each became a unitary council in its own right, taking over the boundaries of the district which had preceded it.