Scotland Local Authorities Map

Current Local Authorities Map

Local government in Scotland is administered by elected members (councillors) of 31 local authorities established in 1996 following reorganisation of the regional government system.

Link to map of local authorities Link to table of populations

Local Authorities Map

Local Authorities Map The map shows when first loaded the current Scottish 32 local authorities (councils/ unitary districts) along with settlements (cities, towns and villages) of over 1000 people. For each local authority further information is available when you hover over the area including its name and population.

Cities, Towns and Villages The settlements are shown as coloured circle markers according to their population size (see legend). Further information can be obtained by clicking on each circle to reveal a pop-up with the settlement name, population and coordinates.

Old County Map of Scotland There is also a layer showing the historical counties of Scotland which can be activated in the layer control (top right hand). Hovering over these displays the county name.

Map Controls

  • You can zoom in by using the +/- control
  • The map can be moved by dragging it within the window – pull down to see Shetland
  • Layers can be selected/deselected using the layer control (top right side)
  • When hovering over the LA or County layers the data for the layer selected most recently will be displayed

Figure 1 Map of Scotland showing Local Authorities, Settlements and old County boundaries


Current Local Authorities 1996 –

Table with populations of all local authorities in Scotland: based 2020 data
Table 1: Population of Local authorities in Scotland

Scotland is divided into 32 administrative areas for the purposes of local government. Of these four authorities are entirely urban, based around Scotland’s largest cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, the rest being mixtures of urban townships and rural areas. They were formed by the breakup of the nine regional councils and although some of the historical counties were reinstated many were not.  For example, the historical county of Ayrshire was split into three unitary authorities (North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire)  whereas Dumfries and Galloway was not split into its three original counties.  Some of these decisions would have been taken based on the size of the population of the newly formed unitaty authorities.

The populations of Scottish Local Authorities range from 635,640 (Glasgow City) to 22,400 (Orkney Islands). The local authorities are responsible for:

  • education social services
  • local planning applications
  • refuse collection and waste management
  • licensing of local services such as: taxis, alcohol sales
  • food hygiene inspections
  • roads, parking and transport but not trunk roads
  • the collection of council tax and non-domestic rates
  • maintaining public spaces

Local authority funding comes from two main sources: the Scottish Government (which receives block funding from the UK Government under the Barnett formulae) and council tax. The current local authorities are shown on the map of Scotland on this page.

Further details see:

Regional Councils 1975 – 1995/6

The system of local government was reorganised in 1975 when the 33 historical counties which had existed since 1890s were abolished and combined into nine large regions (Strathclyde, Lothian, Grampian, Tayside, Fife, Central, Highland, Dumfries & Galloway and Borders) plus three island areas(Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney). The nine regions were sub-divided into Districts for the purpose of local administration. The regions varied greatly in terms of population. Strathclyde, the largest with a population of 2,286,800 was three times the size of the second largest region (Lothian, 750600) and 21 times the size of the smallest region (Borders, 105300). These were not popular at the time mainly as a result of abolishing the historical counties and for the creation of Strathclyde Region which was seen by the public as too large. Regions lasted 21 years and were dissolved in 1995/1996 to make way for the current single unitary local authorities (possibly as legislation was already underway to enable a referendum in 1997 on Scottish devolution. A two-tier system plus a Scottish Parliament would have been seen as too much government.  There is no map for the regions.

County Councils 1895 – 1957

These were based on existing medieval sheriffdoms and burghs (larger towns) which in effect functioned as counties overseeing judicial administration and tax collection.  The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 established the primacy of 33 county councils as a means of local government via elected county councils.  These existed with minor name and or boundary changes until the reorganisation of 1975.  A map of the previous counties of Scotland can be seen by activating the counties layer on the above map.

Methods and Sources

Local Authority Boundaries:

Scotland County Borders: 1951 county polygon shapefiles for Scotland were obtained from Great Britain Historical GIS Project (2012) ‘Great Britain Historical GIS’. University of Portsmouth Regions population data Whitaker’s Concise Almanack 1995. London: J Whitaker & Sons Ltd. 1994. pp. 570–571. ISBN 978-0-85021-247-1

Local Authority Population

Regional Council Population

Scotland Local Authorities Map

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