Subdivisions of Scotland

For local government purposes, Scotland is divided into 32 areas designated as "council areas" (Scottish Gaelic: comhairlean), which are all governed by unitary authorities designated as "councils".[1] They have the option under the Local Government (Gaelic Names) (Scotland) Act 1997[2] of being known (but not re-designated) as a "comhairle" when opting for a Gaelic name; only Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Council of the Western Isles) has chosen this option, whereas the Highland Council (Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd) has adopted its Gaelic form alongside its English equivalent informally.

Councils of Scotland
CategoryAdministrative unit
LocationScotland
Number32 Councils
Populations21,400 (Orkney Islands) – 593,200 (Glasgow)
Areas21 square miles (54 km2) (Dundee) - 11,838 square miles (30,660 km2) (Highland)
Government
  • Council government
Subdivisions
  • None

The council areas have been in existence since 1 April 1996, under the provisions of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994. Historically, Scotland was divided into 34 counties or shires. Although these no longer have any administrative function, they are still used to some extent in Scotland for cultural and geographical purposes, and some of the current council areas are named after them. There are also a number of other administrative divisions, some of which are handled by joint boards of the councils.

At the most local level Scotland is divided into civil parishes, which are now used only for statistical purposes such as the census. The lowest level of administrative subdivision are the communities, which may elect community councils.


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