Divisions of the United Kingdom

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A Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery submitted a report  in 2014-01, recommending that the 22 local councils in Wales be merged to produce between 10 and 12 councils. The report recommends that the process be completed by 2017-2018. Clive Carpenter and Joshua Holman both brought this to my attention.

Update 12 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2013-06-30. It changes the name of Dungannon to Dungannon and South Tyrone, which I list as a variant name.

Sorin Cosoveanu reports that Northern Ireland plans to consolidate its districts, reducing the number from 26 to 11 (source [16]). The new districs will be called Antrim and Newtownabbey; Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Belfast; Causeway Coast and Glens; Derry and Strabane; Fermanagh and Omagh; Lisburn and Castlereagh; Mid and East Antrim; Mid Ulster; Newry, Mourne and Down; and North Down and Ards. The reorganization should take effect in 2015-04.

It has been widely reported that Scotland will hold a referendum on 2014-09-18 to decide on a bid for independence from the U.K.

The NUTS codes (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) for the United Kingdom have been revised several times. In 2000, there was a complete revamping of the system. In 2003, there was a light revision. In 2010, there were more substantial changes, including some to reflect the changes to unitary authorities in 2009. The table below shows the 2010 version. (I have relied on names, not maps, to make the correspondence between NUTS areas and administrative divisions, so there may be some areas that don't precisely match up.)

There are currently 140 NUTS-3 areas in the United Kingdom. The correspondence between NUTS-3 areas and the primary divisions listed in the table below is irregular. Most NUTS-3 areas correspond to one primary division or a small number of contiguous primary divisions. A few primary divisions, however, contain parts of several NUTS-3 areas. In those cases, I've given the most detailed NUTS level possible to fit the division.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. For the United Kingdom, it changes the status of Wales from principality to country, and changes a couple of names.

Update 3 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-02-28. It changes the status of Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire, and Wiltshire from counties to unitary authorities.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2010-08-20. It assigns FIPS codes to the new unitary authorities. It also changes the status of Herefordshire from unitary authority to county, and of Wokingham from district to borough.

Newsletter II-2, an update to the ISO 3166-2 standard, is dated 2010-06-30. It assigns ISO codes to the new unitary authorities of 2009. It also removes the code for Isles of Scilly (formerly IOS).

On 2009-04-01, Bedfordshire was split into two unitary authorities: Central Bedfordshire (consisting of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire districts) and Bedford (former Bedford district). Cheshire was split into two unitary authorities: Cheshire West and Chester (former Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston, and Vale Royal districts) and Cheshire East (former Congleton, Crewe and Nantwich, and Macclesfield districts). Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire, and Wiltshire all became unitary authorities. All seven entities were administrative counties. As unitary authorities, they now have no internal districts; that is, if the original entity consisted of more than one district, those districts were merged.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-9 was published on 2007-11-28. The only change in the United Kingdom section is to indicate the status of each of the subdivisions.

ISO 3166-1 Newsletter No. V-11 was issued on 2006-03-29. It assigns new country codes to Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Jersey. These are all crown tributaries of the United Kingdom. They are politically independent but recognize the monarch of the United Kingdom as their chief of state. Hitherto, they had been considered part of the U.K. by ISO. ISO 3166-2 Newsletter I-8, published on 2007-04-17, brings the ISO subdivision codes into line with the ISO country codes. There are no changes to codes within the U.K., only deletions of the crown tributaries.

The 1991 census figures were originally reported following the boundary lines that prevailed before the reorganization of 1995-1998. After the reorganization, some divisions had the same name, but different territory. Source [9] has corrected data according to the new geography, which I used for the Pop-1991 column in the table below.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It amends the original standard by removing the text "(City of)" wherever it appears.

Change Notice 7 to FIPS PUB 10-4 is dated 2002-01-10. It cancels all the FIPS codes for the divisions of the United Kingdom as they stood in 1995, and assigns new codes to the divisions as of 1998. The new codes are shown in the table below.

The United Kingdom underwent a local government reform in 1995-1998. Of the four countries, only Northern Ireland's local government structure remained unchanged (26 districts). Wales was reorganized into 22 unitary authorities. Scotland emerged with 29 unitary districts and three island areas. England's new primary subdivisions are 34 counties, 47 unitary authorities, 36 metropolitan districts, and 33 London boroughs. The 34 counties are subdivided into 238 districts; the other divisions are all unitary, meaning that they have no smaller units of local government under them. The counties are sometimes called administrative counties, to distinguish them from the ceremonial counties. Sources [10] and [11] have more details.

On 2000-07-03, a new Greater London Authority took power. It became a primary division, with the 33 London boroughs (map ) as subdivisions. Although the standards still don't list it, I now show Greater London instead of its 33 boroughs.

A great many English people identify themselves with the historic county of their residence. The old counties had endured for seven centuries or more in most cases, and represented an enormous weight of tradition. Those counties, which now exist only as lines on a map, are called ceremonial, historical, or geographical counties. Sources [13] and [14] explore ways of retaining their significance.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on 1998-12-15. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For the United Kingdom, the draft standard showed a total of 96 divisions, which represented the status up to April 1, 1995. Each one was assigned a three-letter code. The final standard shows 233 divisions, also with three-letter codes. The codes are unchanged for those divisions which were unaffected by the reorganization; otherwise, all the codes are distinct. As supplementary material, both versions give three-letter codes for the six countries, as well as for three compound entities ("for completeness"): England and Wales, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom.

Erratum: In "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries," the first two rows were missing from the table of English counties prior to 1974.

Country overview: 

ISO codeGB
LanguageEnglish (en)
Time zone+0~


The United Kingdom has been independent for the entire 20th century. The name Great Britain properly refers only to the island shared by England, Scotland, and Wales; however, it is often casually used to refer to the whole United Kingdom. The official name was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1927, when it was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, recognizing the separation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The United Kingdom has had many dependencies and possessions during the 20th century that are listed on this site as separate countries.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Storbritannien, Forenede Kongerige, Forenede Kongerige Storbritannien og Nordirland (formal)
  2. Dutch: Verenigd Koninkrijk, Verenigd Koninkrijk van Groot-BrittanniŰ en Noord-Ierland (formal)
  3. English: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (formal)
  4. Finnish: Iso-Britannia, Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta Iso-Britannia ja Pohjois-Irlanti (formal)
  5. French: Royaume-Uni, Royaume-Uni m de Grande-Bretagne f et d'Irlande f du Nord (formal)
  6. German: Grossbritannien (Swiss), Vereinigtes K÷nigreich, Vereinigtes K÷nigreich n Gro▀britannien n und Nordirland n
  7. Icelandic: Bretland, Sameina­a konungsdŠmi Stˇra-Bretland og Nor­ur-═rland (formal)
  8. Italian: Regno Unito, Regno m Unito di Gran Bretagna f e Irlanda f del Nord
  9. Norwegian: Det forente kongerike Storbritannia og Nord-Irland (formal) (Bokmňl), Det sameinte kongeriket Storbritannia og Nord-Irland (formal) (Nynorsk), Storbritannia
  10. Portuguese: Reino Unido, Reino m Unido da GrŃ-Bretanha f e Irlanda f do Norte (formal)
  11. Russian: Великобритания (informal), Соединенное Королевство Великобритании и Северной Ирландии (formal)
  12. Spanish: Reino Unido, Reino m Unido de Gran Breta˝a f e Irlanda f del Norte (formal)
  13. Swedish: Storbritannien, F÷renade kungariket
  14. Turkish: BŘyŘk Britanya ve Kuzey İrlanda Birleşik Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

descriptive: formed originally by union of Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland

Primary subdivisions: 

The United Kingdom is divided into 200 divisions with a variety of statuses (see the second table below).

NameHASCISOFIPSNUTSTypePop-2001Pop-1991Area(km.²)Area(mi.²)CapitalOld County
Argyll and ButeGB.ABAGBUKT8UKM63ud91,30692,0466,9302,676LochgilpheadStrathclyde
BarnsleyGB.BXBNSUKA3UKE31mb218,063221,621328127BarnsleySouth Yorkshire
Bath and North East SomersetGB.BNBASUKA4UKK12ua169,040158,692351136BristolSomerset
BelfastGB.BFBFSUKR3UKN01ds277,391279,23713050BelfastAntrim, Down
BirminghamGB.BIBIRUKA7UKG31cmb977,087970,442265102BirminghamWest Midlands
Blackburn with DarwenGB.BWBBDUKA8UKD41ua137,470136,61213753BlackburnLancashire
Blaenau GwentGB.BGBGWUKX2UKL16uaw70,06472,25010942Ebbw ValeMonmouth
BoltonGB.BTBOLUKB1UKD32mb261,037258,58414054BoltonGreater Manchester
Bracknell ForestGB.BCBRCUKB3UKJ11ua109,61795,94910942BracknellBerkshire
BradfordGB.BVBRDUKB4UKE41cmb467,665456,929366141BradfordWest Yorkshire
Brighton and HoveGB.BHBNHUKB6UKJ21ua247,817228,9468232HoveEast Sussex
BuryGB.BRBURUKC1UKD32mb180,608177,2889938BuryGreater Manchester
CaerphillyGB.CPCAYUKX4UKL16uaw169,519169,577279108Tredomen, Ystrad FawrMonmouth, Glamorgan
CalderdaleGB.CXCLDUKC2UKE44mb192,405191,585363140HalifaxWest Yorkshire
Central BedfordshireGB.CBCBFUKZ6UKH25ua233,661352,434716276ChicksandsBedfordshire
CeredigionGB.CGCGNUKX6UKL14uaw74,94163,0941,797694Aberaeron, AberystwythCardigan
Cheshire EastGB.CQCHEUKZ7UKD62ua351,8171,166450SandbachCheshire
Cheshire West and ChesterGB.CZCHWUKZ8UKD63ua321,971650,215915353ChesterCheshire
ConwyGB.CWCWYUKX8UKL13uaw109,596106,3211,130436ConwyCaernarvon, Denbigh
CoventryGB.CTCOVUKC7UKG33cmb300,848293,9179737CoventryWest Midlands
DenbighshireGB.DIDENUKX9UKL13uaw93,06590,548844326RuthinDenbigh, Flint
DoncasterGB.DCDNCUKD5UKE31mb286,866288,854581224DoncasterSouth Yorkshire
DudleyGB.DYDUDUKD7UKG36mb305,155305,0709838DudleyWest Midlands
Dumfries and GallowayGB.DGDGYUKU2UKM32ud147,765147,8056,4392,486DumfriesDumfries and Galloway
East AyrshireGB.EAEAYUKU4UKM33ud120,235122,4551,252483KilmarnockStrathclyde
East DunbartonshireGB.EDEDUUKU5UKM31ud108,243109,40517266KirkintillochStrathclyde
East LothianGB.ELELNUKU6UKM23ud90,08884,114678262HaddingtonLothian
East RenfrewshireGB.ERERWUKU7UKM35ud89,31185,35317367GiffnockStrathclyde
East Riding of YorkshireGB.EYERYUKE1UKE12ua314,113291,9742,415932BeverleyEast Riding of Yorkshire
East SussexGB.ESESXUKE2UKJ22ac492,324461,5011,713661LewesEast Sussex
Eilean SiarGB.WIELSUKW8UKM64ia26,50229,6003,1341,210StornowayWestern Isles
GatesheadGB.GHGATUKE5UKC22mb191,151199,58814355GatesheadTyne and Wear
Greater LondonGB.GL UKIreg7,172,0916,679,9451,583609LondonGreater London
GwyneddGB.GDGWNUKY2UKL12uaw116,843113,3312,548984CaernarfonCaernarvon, Denbigh, Merioneth
Isle of WightGB.IWIOWUKG2UKJ34ua132,731124,577380147NewportIsle of Wight
Isles of ScillyGB.ISUKZ9UKK30ua2,152 156Hugh TownCornwall
Kingston upon HullGB.KHKHLUKG6UKE11cua243,589254,1177127Kingston-upon-HullEast Riding of Yorkshire
KirkleesGB.KKKIRUKG8UKE44mb388,567372,730410158HuddersfieldWest Yorkshire
LeedsGB.LSLDSUKH3UKE42cmb715,402681,319562217LeedsWest Yorkshire
LisburnGB.LBLSBUKS5UKN02ds108,69499,458436168LisburnAntrim, Down
ManchesterGB.MNMANUKI2UKD31cmb392,819400,49111645ManchesterGreater Manchester
Merthyr TydfilGB.MTMTYUKY3UKL15uaw55,98159,31711143Merthyr TydfilBrecknock, Glamorgan
MiddlesbroughGB.MBMDBUKI5UKC12ua134,855140,8495421MiddlesbroughNorth Yorkshire
Milton KeynesGB.MKMIKUKI6UKJ12ua207,057176,330309119Milton KeynesBuckinghamshire
Neath Port TalbotGB.NPNTLUKY5UKL17uaw134,468138,238441170Port TalbotGlamorgan
Newcastle upon TyneGB.NUNETUKI7UKC22cmb259,536259,54111243Newcastle-upon-TyneTyne and Wear
Newry and MourneGB.NMNYMUKS9UKN05ds87,05880,646886342NewryArmagh, Down
North AyrshireGB.NRNAYUKV7UKM33ud135,817136,875884341IrvineStrathclyde
North DownGB.NDNDNUKT2UKN02ds76,32371,8327228BangorDown
North East LincolnshireGB.NENELUKJ2UKE13ua157,979159,66219274GrimsbyLincolnshire
North LanarkshireGB.NNNLKUKV8UKM36ud321,067323,821474183MotherwellStrathclyde
North LincolnshireGB.NLNLNUKJ3UKE13ua152,849152,287833322ScunthorpeLincolnshire
North SomersetGB.NSNSMUKJ4UKK12ua188,564177,472375145Weston-super-MareSomerset
North TynesideGB.NINTYUKJ5UKC22mb191,659192,2868432WallsendTyne and Wear
North YorkshireGB.NYNYKUKJ7UKE22ac569,660535,8578,0383,103NorthallertonNorth Yorkshire
OldhamGB.OLOLDUKK1UKD32mb217,273216,53114154OldhamGreater Manchester
Orkney IslandsGB.ORORKUKV9UKM65ia19,24519,612992383KirkwallOrkney
Perthshire and KinrossGB.PKPKNUKW1UKM27ud134,949126,2265,3112,051PerthTayside
PowysGB.POPOWUKY8UKL24uaw126,354119,0195,2042,009Llandrindod WellsBrecknock, Denbigh, Montgomery, Radnor
Redcar and ClevelandGB.RCRCCUKK9UKC12ua139,132145,12324595South BankNorth Yorkshire
Rhondda, Cynon, TaffGB.RTRCTUKY9UKL15uaw231,946232,592424164TonypandyBrecknock, Glamorgan
RochdaleGB.RDRCHUKL2UKD32mb205,357202,16416062RochdaleGreater Manchester
RotherhamGB.RHROTUKL3UKE31mb248,175252,168283109RotherhamSouth Yorkshire
Saint HelensGB.SZSHNUKN1UKD71mb176,843179,21813351Saint HelensMerseyside
SalfordGB.ZFSLFUKL5UKD31cmb216,103222,5299737ManchesterGreater Manchester
SandwellGB.ZWSAWUKL7UKG37mb282,904290,0918633OldburyWest Midlands
Scottish BordersGB.BOSCBUKT9UKM24ud106,764103,8814,7341,828Newtown Saint BoswellsBorders
SeftonGB.SESFTUKL8UKD73mb282,958289,54215359Bootle, SouthportMerseyside
SheffieldGB.SVSHFUKL9UKE32cmb513,234500,671367142SheffieldSouth Yorkshire
Shetland IslandsGB.SHZETUKW3UKM66ia21,98822,5221,438555LerwickShetland
SolihullGB.SISOLUKM2UKG32mb199,517200,32917969SolihullWest Midlands
South AyrshireGB.SASAYUKW4UKM37ud112,097112,6581,202464AyrStrathclyde
South GloucestershireGB.SJSGCUKM6UKK12ua245,641220,364497192ThornburyGloucestershire
South LanarkshireGB.SLSLKUKW5UKM38ud302,216300,1431,771684HamiltonStrathclyde
South TynesideGB.SXSTYUKM7UKC22mb152,785154,6976425South ShieldsTyne and Wear
StockportGB.SKSKPUKN2UKD31mb284,528286,53112649StockportGreater Manchester
SunderlandGB.SDSNDUKN6UKC23cmb280,807290,10513853SunderlandTyne and Wear
SurreyGB.SRSRYUKN7UKJ23ac1,059,0151,014,3491,670645Kingston upon ThamesSurrey
TamesideGB.TMTAMUKO1UKD31mb213,043216,43110340Ashton-under-LyneGreater Manchester
Telford and WrekinGB.TKTFWUKO2UKG21ua158,325139,516290112TelfordShropshire
TraffordGB.TDTRFUKO6UKD31mb210,145214,43710641StretfordGreater Manchester
Vale of GlamorganGB.VGVGLUKZ3UKL22uaw119,292118,039337130BarryGlamorgan
WakefieldGB.WKWKFUKO7UKE45cmb315,172310,709333129WakefieldWest Yorkshire
WalsallGB.WZWLLUKO8UKG38mb253,499259,48810641WalsallWest Midlands
West BerkshireGB.WBWBKUKP4UKJ11ua144,483136,700704272NewburyBerkshire
West DunbartonshireGB.WDWDUUKW7UKM31ud93,37895,98416263DumbartonStrathclyde
West LothianGB.WHWLNUKW9UKM28ud158,714143,971425164LivingstonLothian
West SussexGB.WSWSXUKP6UKJ24ac753,614703,5531,988768ChichesterWest Sussex
WiganGB.WNWGNUKP7UKD32mb301,415304,00119977WiganGreater Manchester
Windsor and MaidenheadGB.WAWNMUKP9UKJ11ua133,626132,46519876MaidenheadBerkshire
WolverhamptonGB.WVWLVUKQ3UKG39mb236,582243,5866927WolverhamptonWest Midlands
WrexhamGB.WXWRXUKZ4UKL23uaw128,476121,296499193WrexhamDenbigh, Flint
YorkGB.YKYORUKQ5UKE21cua181,094166,304271105YorkNorth Yorkshire
200 divisions59,012,50256,682,289243,60294,051
  • Name: Short name of division.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: District codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix "GB-" to the code (ex: GB-WRL
    represents Wirral). The source for the three-letter codes is a British Standard named "BS 6879: Codes for the
    representation of names of counties and similar areas". This standard includes two- and three-letter and four-digit
    codes for each current county name, and a three-letter code for each historic county name. The codes in this
    document stand for names, not areas. For example, Warwickshire has one code of each type (WK, WAR, 3700),
    even though its area was substantially different before the 1974 local government reform. On the other hand, there
    are different codes for Western Isles (WIS) and Eilean Siar (ELS), which is just a change of name. The three-letter
    codes are based on the older Chapman County Codes, devised by genealogist Colin R. Chapman.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard. FIPS probably intends Isles of Scilly to be
    considered part of Cornwall.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics level-three codes, with some exceptions, as described above.
    First three characters indicate the NUTS-1 region, as shown below (1).
  • Type: Type of division. For codes, see next table.
  • Pop-2001: Population according to the 2001-04-29 census (source [15]).
  • Pop-1991: Population according to source [9]. Figures represent the census of 1991-04-21, proleptic to the
    reorganization of 1995-1998. Area and population for Isles of Scilly are included in Cornwall. Source [15] (footnote,
    p. 20) says, "The Isles of Scilly, which are separately administered by an Isles of Scilly Council, do not form part
    of the county of Cornwall but are usually associated with the county."
  • Area: Data contributed by Karem Abdalla.
  • Capital: Site of the administrative headquarters of the subdivision. When blank, usually the subdivision only contains
    one town. The concept of capital is rather hazy in the United Kingdom. Ceredigion county council has offices in both
    Aberaeron and Aberystwyth. Argyll and Bute has offices in Kilmory Castle in Lochgilphead, and its capital is
    sometimes cited as Kilmory, sometimes Lochgilphead.
  • Old County: For administrative counties and unitary authorities in England, this is the ceremonial county (pre-1974,
    except Cumbria). For Greater London and metropolitan boroughs, it is the metropolitan county (1974-1995). For
    Wales, it is the shire county (pre-1974); for Scotland, the region (1975-1996); for Northern Ireland, the county (pre-1973).


acAdministrative countyEngland27
mbMetropolitan boroughEngland25
cmbMetropolitan borough (city)England11
uaUnitary authorityEngland45
cuaUnitary authority (city)England10
uacUnitary authority (county)England1
uawUnitary authority (Wales)Wales22
udUnitary districtScotland25
udcUnitary district (city)Scotland4
iaIsland areaScotland3
dsDistrictNorthern Ireland26

Postal codes: 

The United Kingdom uses a very complex system of postal codes. They don't correlate well with the administrative divisions. Each postal code is five to seven characters, with a space before the last three characters. The possible configurations are "an naa", "ann naa", "aan naa", "aann naa", "ana naa", and "aana naa", where each 'a' represents a letter and each 'n' a digit. See this Universal Postal Union  page for more details.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of the United Kingdom page.

The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. I will call these four major parts of the United Kingdom "countries", which is consistent with common British usage. They have various and complex status. Each of these four divisions has a different history of subdivision, which is examined under Change history below.

The United Kingdom defined Standard Statistical Regions (SSRs) in 1965, and modified them slightly when county boundaries were redrawn in 1974. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Community, used these divisions when setting up its own statistical regions for Europe. Three of them match the historical countries that form the United Kingdom; eight others are subdivisions of England. Note: In 1994-04, Government Offices for the Regions (GORs) were established, based on a division of England into ten regions (now nine) which don't always match the SSRs. Here is a PDF Map  of current GORs.

These are the NUTS level-one statistical regions of the United Kingdom. In England, they coincide with Government Office Regions. GOR codes (or, in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, "pseudo-GOR" codes) have been assigned to each of them.

North EastUKCA
North WestUKDB
Yorkshire and the HumberUKED
East MidlandsUKFE
West MidlandsUKGF
East of EnglandUKHG
South EastUKJJ
South WestUKKK
Northern IrelandUKNY


On the secondary level, some counties are subdivided into districts. Other areas have unitary government, meaning that the primary subdivision carries out the functions of a secondary subdivision as well.

Territorial extent: 

Except for the "islands areas", all divisions of England, Scotland, and Wales lie mostly on the island of Great Britain; all divisions of Northern Ireland lie mostly on the island of Ireland.

  1. Ards includes Copeland Island.
  2. Central includes some of the islands in Loch Lomond: Inchcailloan, Inchcruin, Inchfad, etc.
  3. Cornwall includes the Isles of Scilly (Sorlings).
  4. Cumbria includes the Isle of Walney.
  5. Dyfed includes Skomer, Ramsey, Skokholm, and Caldy Islands.
  6. Essex includes Foulness Island, Mersea Island, and other coastal islands.
  7. Fife includes Inchkeith and the Isle of May.
  8. Gwynedd includes Anglesey, Holy, and Bardsey Islands.
  9. Highland includes the islands of Skye, Rhum, Raasay, Scalpay, Eigg, Soay, Rona, Muck, Canna, Sanday, Ewe, and Handa. It also includes Stroma, just off John o' Groats House.
  10. Isle of Wight consists of an island off the south coast of Britain.
  11. Kent includes the Isle of Sheppey and islands in the mouth of the River Medway.
  12. Mid Glamorgan includes Tusker Rock in the Bristol Channel.
  13. Moyle includes Rathlin Island.
  14. Northumberland includes Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and the Farne Islands.
  15. Orkney includes the islands of Orkney Mainland (Pomona), Hoy, Westray, Rousay, Sanday, South Ronaldsay, Stronsay, Eday, Shapinsay, North Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Flotta, and numerous others.
  16. Shetland includes the islands of Shetland Mainland, Yell, Unst, Fetlar, Foula, Bressay, Fair Isle, Whalsay, Muckle Roe, Papa Stour, the Out Skerries, and many other small islands. Muckle Flugga is said to be the northernmost of the British Isles.
  17. Strathclyde includes the islands of Mull, Islay, Jura, Arran, Bute, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Lismore, Ulva, Scarba, Kerrera, Luing, Iona, Oronsay, Gigha, Great and Little Cumbrae, and Sanda. It also includes some of the islands in Loch Lomond: Inchlonaig, Inchmurrin, Inchconnachan, etc.
  18. Western Isles consists of the island group known as the Outer Hebrides. (The Inner Hebrides are in Highland and Strathclyde.) It includes the island of Lewis and Harris, a single island with two names. Formerly Lewis and Harris was divided between the counties of Inverness and Ross & Cromarty. The part in Inverness was Harris, and the rest was Lewis. Western Isles also includes the islands of South Uist, North Uist, Barra, Benbecula, Great Bernera, Pabbay, Eriskay, Vatersay, Mingulay, Berneray, Taransay, Scarp, Scalpay, and the Shiant Islands. Farther from the mainland are Saint Kilda, Boreray, Flannan, Rockall, and North Rona.
  19. Prior to 1974, several counties had exclaves. The most noticeable were an exclave of Flintshire lying amid Cheshire, Denbighshire, and Shropshire, and part of Dunbarton between Lanark and Stirling.

Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Jersey are crown dependencies of the United Kingdom. Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands are all British territories. They are treated as separate countries on this site, because each of them has its own ISO country code.

Origins of names: 

Includes some names of former divisions.

  1. The suffix -shire comes from Old English sciran: to cut.
  2. Channel Islands: descriptive: islands in the English Channel
  3. England: Land of the Angles (people from Angeln in Germany)
  4. Northern Ireland: northern part of the island of Ireland (see the country entry for Ireland)
  5. Wales: Germanic walho: stranger
  6. Anglesey: Isle of the Angles (ethnic name).
  7. Armagh: Old Irish ard magh: high plain
  8. Avon: from river name, from Celtic word for river
  9. Ayr: from river name, which probably came from Indo-European root ar-: water
  10. Barking and Dagenham: Berica (personal name) + -ing (ethnic suffix) + Dæcca (personal name) + ham: farm.
  11. Barnet: Old English bærnet: land cleared by burning.
  12. Barnsley: Beorn (personal name) + Old English leah: clearing.
  13. Bath: Roman baths were located there.
  14. Bedford: Beda's ford, possibly a man's name
  15. Belfast: Irish Beal: opening, Feirste: sandbank, i.e. ford on a sandbank
  16. Berkshire: from Celtic bearroc: hilly, applied to a birch forest
  17. Bexley: from Old English byxe: box tree + leah: clearing.
  18. Borders: on the border between England and Scotland
  19. Buckingham: Old English: from Bucca (personal name) + -ing (ethnic suffix) + ham (farm)
  20. Cambridge: Norman French Cantebruge: bridge over the Cante (Cam) River; Cam is from Celtic for winding
  21. Carrickfergus: Gaelic carraig Fhearghasa: rock of Fergus
  22. Cheshire: shire of Chester, from Latin castra: camp
  23. Cleveland: the cliff land
  24. Cornwall: from ethnic name Cornovii + Anglo-Saxon walh: foreigner; Cornovii comes from Latin cornu: horn
  25. Cumberland: from Welsh cymry, meaning Welshmen, + land.
  26. Cumbria: from Welsh cymry: Welsh
  27. Derby: from Old Norwegian diur: stag, by: village
  28. Devon: Medieval Latin Dumnonia, from ethnic name Dumnonii
  29. Dorset: Abbreviation of Medieval Latin Durnovaria: Dorchester + sŠton: colonist
  30. Down: Irish dun: fort
  31. Dumfries: possibly Gaelic dum fres: fort of the Frisians
  32. Durham: Old English dun: hill, holmr: island
  33. Ely, Isle of: from Old English æl: eel, a region where eels were found. Called an isle because the city Ely is on dry ground surrounded by swamp land.
  34. Essex: Old English for Eastern Saxons
  35. Glamorgan: Welsh glanna Morgan: Morgan's shore
  36. Gloucester: Latin glevum, from Brittonic glouiu: bright place + castra: fort
  37. Gwent: from Welsh gwen: smile
  38. Gwynedd: after Cunedda, sixth-century king of northern Wales
  39. Hampshire: Old English hamm: water meadow + tun: farm + scir: county
  40. Hereford: Old English here: army, ford: ford (i.e. the army's ford)
  41. Hertfordshire: Old English heorot: hart, ford: ford, scir: county
  42. Humberside: land beside the River Humber.
  43. Huntingdonshire: shire of Huntingdon, from Old English hunta: hunter + dun: hill.
  44. Kent: Latin Cantium, possibly from Celtic canto: edge; caint: open country; or kant: rock (referring to the cliffs along the shore)
  45. Lancashire: shire of Lancaster, from Celtic lune: pure (river) + Latin castra: camp.
  46. Leicester: Leire + Latin castra: fort (fort on the River Leire)
  47. Lincoln: from Latin Lindum Colonia: colony on Lindum lake; Lindum is from Celtic ilyn: lake + dun: fort
  48. London: possibly from man's name Londinos, from Celtic londo-: bold
  49. Maidenhead: from Old English mægden: maiden + hyth: landing-place.
  50. Manchester: Celtic mam: breast, Latin castra: camp (original settlement near a breast-shaped hill?)
  51. Merseyside: land beside the River Mersey, from Old English mærse: boundary river.
  52. Norfolk: land of the northern people (north folk)
  53. Northampton: from Old English North + ham: farm + tun: town
  54. Northumberland: land north of the Humber estuary
  55. Nottingham: from Snot (personal name) + -ing (ethnic suffix) + ham: farm
  56. Oxford: ford of the oxen
  57. Peterborough, Soke of: burgh of St. Peter's (monastery). Soke is from Old English socn: jurisdiction.
  58. Salop: a shortened form of Shropshire used by the Norman French.
  59. Shropshire: shortened from Shrewsburyshire; Shrewsbury comes from Latin civitas scrobbensis: city of the scrub folk (civitas later translated as burgh)
  60. Somerset: from Sumortun (modern Somerton) + sŠton: colonist
  61. Stafford: from Old English steath: landing place + ford
  62. Suffolk: land of the southern people (south folk)
  63. Surrey: Old English suthrige: south region (south of the Thames)
  64. Sussex: land of the South Saxons
  65. Tyne and Wear: land on the Rivers Tyne and Wear. Tyne is a Celtic or pre-Celtic word for river. So is wear.
  66. Warwick: Anglo-Saxon war: subsidiary farm + wic: weir
  67. West Midlands: western part of the English Midlands, midway between the English Channel and Scotland
  68. Western Isles: descriptive
  69. Wigan: from a person's name.
  70. Wight, Isle of: from Celtic vectis, possibly meaning "dividing place" (Southampton Water divides there to form The Solent and Spithead).
  71. Wiltshire: from WilsŠtan, West Saxon settlers along the Wylye river; sŠtan: settlers
  72. Windsor: from Old English windels: windlass, winch + ora: riverbank.
  73. Wirral: from Old English wir: corner of land + halh: myrtle.
  74. Wokingham: Wocca (man's name) + -ing (ethnic suffix) + ham: farm.
  75. Wolverhampton: Wulfrun (woman's name) + Old English heah: high + tun: farmstead.
  76. Worcester: ethnic name Weogora, possibly from a Celtic river name + Latin castra: camp.
  77. York: from Latin Eboracum: estate of Eburos, modified by Angles to Eoforwic (wic: dwelling) and by Danes to Jorvik

Change history: 

The histories of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are discussed individually, in that order.


Prior to 1888, England was divided into 38 counties. (I exclude Monmouthshire, which was sometimes counted with England, and sometimes Wales. The territory of Monmouthshire is contained in the modern Standard Statistical Region of Wales.) They had existed for hundreds of years with little change. Their significance was geographical, historical, and social, but not administrative. The Local Government Act of 1888 created county councils with executive powers. By the same stroke, seven of the counties were split into two or three parts each, corresponding to traditional subdivisions. A new county, London, was formed from parts of Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey. In addition, 57 county boroughs were created. These were administratively on a par with the counties, but consisted of the urban areas of the larger cities. Informal lists of divisions often showed only the counties, implicitly combining each county borough with the geographical county it had come from. The counties were divided into districts of several types: non-county boroughs (cities too small to become county boroughs), urban districts, and rural districts. The rural districts were subdivided into parishes. London county was an exception: it consisted of 28 metropolitan boroughs and one city, the City of London (the historical center of London, about one square mile around Saint Paul's).

As time went by, more cities were split from their counties to become county boroughs, until there were 79 in 1931. Also, the county boroughs annexed adjacent land as the cities grew. The eventual result was that the counties had to provide a constant level of service with a diminishing tax base. This was one of the problems addressed by the 1974 reform.

These were the administrative counties of England between 1900 and 1974.

East RidingUK12144,748154,768460,880482,936510,904530,170542,5653,036Beverley
East SuffolkUK13255,800277,155291,073294,977321,909353,290380,5242,256Ipswich
East SussexUK14450,979489,070532,187546,864618,516673,190750,3122,147Lewes
Isle of ElyUK0464,49569,75273,81777,69889,04989,420971March
Isle of WightUK2282,41888,18694,66688,45496,62593,090109,284381Newport
North RidingUK31377,338419,546456,436469,375525,481565,080724,4635,510Northallerton
NorthumberlandUK32603,119696,893746,096756,782798,424825,650794,9755,228Newcastle upon Tyne
SurreyUK39893,9201,123,569930,0861,180,8781,602,4831,744,690999,5881,869Kingston upon Thames
West RidingUK422,839,2353,127,6593,265,2413,437,3683,691,6453,677,2203,780,5397,227Wakefield
West SuffolkUK43117,553116,905108,985106,137120,652135,080164,2011,582Bury Saint Edmunds
West SussexUK44151,276176,308195,810222,995318,823418,470491,0201,627Chichester
49 counties30,514,96733,651,56935,230,22537,359,04541,265,59543,983,31045,870,062130,347


There were 38 geographical counties. They were the same as above, except for the seven which were divided into two or more administrative counties: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Huntingdon and the Soke of Peterborough, Lincolnshire (consisting of the Parts of Holland, Kesteven, and Lindsey), Suffolk (East and West), Sussex (East and West), and Yorkshire (consisting of the East, North, and West Ridings). (Note: the word riding is a corruption of thirding, i.e. a third of the county.)

The following list shows county boroughs according to their geographical counties. Names in parentheses are alternate names or obsolete names. Some of these county boroughs were created or eliminated at some time during the period covered (1900-1974).

Bedfordshire: Luton. Berkshire: Reading. Cheshire: Birkenhead, Chester, Stockport, Wallasey. Cumberland: Carlisle. Derbyshire: Derby. Devonshire: Devonport, Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay. Durham: Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool (West Hartlepool), South Shields, Sunderland. East Suffolk: Ipswich. East Sussex: Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings. Essex: East Ham, Southend (Southend-on-Sea), West Ham. Glamorganshire: Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea. Gloucestershire: Bristol, Gloucester. Hampshire: Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton. Kent: Canterbury. Lancashire: Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Saint Helens, Salford, Southport, Warrington, Wigan. Leicestershire: Leicester. Lindsey: Grimsby, Lincoln. Monmouthshire: Newport. Norfolk: Great Yarmouth (Yarmouth), Norwich. Northamptonshire: Northampton. Northumberland: Newcastle upon Tyne (Newcastle), Tynemouth. Nottinghamshire: Nottingham. Oxfordshire: Oxford. Somerset: Bath. Staffordshire: Burton upon Trent, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton. Surrey: Croydon. Warwickshire: Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull. Worcestershire: Dudley, Smethwick, Warley, Worcester. Yorkshire, East Riding: Kingston upon Hull (Hull). Yorkshire, North Riding: Middlesbrough (Teesside). Yorkshire, West Riding: Barnsley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield, York.

  1. ~1958: Capital of Derbyshire moved from Derby to Matlock.
  2. 1964: The London Government Act of 1963, effective in 1964, created Greater London. It consisted of the former counties of London and Middlesex, and parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, and Surrey, including the county boroughs of Croydon, East Ham, and West Ham. It was subdivided into 32 boroughs and the City of London. Its governing body was the Greater London Council.
  3. 1964-04-01: Luton county borough split from Bedfordshire.
  4. 1974-04-01: The Local Government Act of 1972 took effect. County boroughs were eliminated. England was reorganized into 39 counties, six metropolitan counties, and Greater London (which is sometimes numbered with the metropolitan counties). The non-metropolitan counties were subdivided into 332 districts, which were further subdivided into parishes.
  5. The following counties were unchanged in territory: Bedford, Berkshire, Buckingham, Cornwall, Derby, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Greater London, Hampshire, Hertford, Kent, Norfolk, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Shropshire, Suffolk, Surrey, West Sussex, and Wiltshire. The administrative counties which were contained in counties on this list (Isle of Ely, Isle of Wight, East and West Suffolk) disappeared. Name of Shropshire changed to Salop.
  6. The following counties lost part of their territory, and occasionally gained a little, in the formation of new counties: Cambridge, Cheshire, Durham, Gloucester, Lancashire, Lincoln, Northumberland, Somerset, Stafford, and Warwick. In particular, Huntingdon was annexed to Cambridge, and Rutland to Leicester.
  7. In addition, Avon was formed from parts of Gloucester and Somerset; Cleveland, from parts of Durham and North Riding; Cumbria, from Cumberland, Westmorland, and parts of Lancashire and West Riding; Greater Manchester, from parts of Cheshire, Lancashire, and West Riding; Hereford and Worcester, from Hereford and most of Worcester; Humberside, from part of Lindsey and most of East Riding; Merseyside, from parts of Cheshire and Lancashire; North Yorkshire, from most of North Riding and parts of East and West Ridings; South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, from parts of West Riding; Tyne and Wear, from parts of Durham and Northumberland; and West Midlands, from parts of Stafford, Warwick, and Worcester.
  8. 1974-10: Isle of Wight county split from Hampshire.
  9. 1980: Name of Salop county changed back to Shropshire.
  10. 1986-03-31: Local Government Act 1985 took effect, abolishing the seven metropolitan county governments (including the Greater London Council).
  11. ~1989: Capital of Humberside moved from Kingston upon Hull to Beverley; capital of Northumberland moved from Newcastle upon Tyne (Tyne and Wear) to Morpeth. These were the divisions of England at that time:
East SussexGB.ESESXUK14UK53SEcn716,5001,795Lewes
Greater LondonGB.GLGTLUK17UK55SEmc6,803,1001,580London
Greater ManchesterGB.GMGTMUK18UK82NWmc2,561,6001,287Manchester
Hereford and WorcesterGB.HWHWRUK20UK71WMcnH & W686,0003,926Worcester
Isle of WightGB.IWIOWUK23UK56SEcnI o W126,600381Newport
North YorkshireGB.NYNYKUK30UK22YHcnN Yorks720,9008,316Northallerton
South YorkshireGB.SYSYKUK37UK23YHmcS Yorks1,292,7001,560Barnsley
SurreyGB.SRSRYUK40UK53SEcn1,035,5001,677Kingston upon Thames
Tyne and WearGB.TWTWRUK41UK13NOmcT & W1,125,600540Newcastle upon Tyne
West MidlandsGB.WMWMDUK43UK73WMmc2,619,000899Birmingham
West SussexGB.WSWSXUK44UK53SEcn713,6001,989Chichester
West YorkshireGB.WYWYKUK45UK24YHmcW Yorks2,066,2002,039Wakefield
46 divisions48,067,300130,428
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics. The first three characters of the NUTS code identify a statistical
    region of the United Kingdom.
  • Reg: Statistical region, keyed to the regions table under Primary subdivisions.
  • Typ: These divisions are counties (cn) and metropolitan counties (mc).
  • Conv: Conventional abbreviation.
  • Population: 1991-04-21 census


Note 2: The conventional abbreviations are usually punctuated with a period after each element except the ampersand (&). Some of them, like Lancs, have been in regular use for hundreds of years and are almost automatic; others, like Warks, are not very firmly established, and admit of variants (e.g. War). In a 1969 guide, the British Post Office said that only 24 counties had postally acceptable abbreviations. Not even all of those are listed here; for example, Co. Durham is the Post Office abbreviation for Durham.

Note 3: the capital of Surrey is in Greater London. The capitals are usually referred to as county towns.

  1. ~1992: Another reorganization was proposed. A new concept in this plan was the unitary authority, so called because it would provide all of the services formerly divided between two levels of government, the county and the borough or district. The plan was enacted, and implemented in four annual phases, from 1995 to 1998. The resulting structure is shown in the first table.
  2. 1993-11-01: Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union replaced the European Communities, of which the U.K. was a member.
  3. 1994-04: Ten Government Office Regions (GORs) established in England.
  4. 1995-04-01: Isle of Wight changed from county to unitary authority (ua).
  5. 1995-07-11: Name of North West Somerset changed to North Somerset.
  6. 1996-04-01: Avon county split into Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire ua's; Cleveland county split into Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees ua's; Humberside county split into East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, North East Lincolnshire, and North Lincolnshire ua's; York ua split from North Yorkshire county.
  7. 1997-04-01: Luton ua split from Bedfordshire county; Milton Keynes ua split from Buckinghamshire county; Derby ua split from Derbyshire county; Bournemouth and Poole ua's split from Dorset county; Darlington ua split from Durham county; Brighton and Hove ua split from East Sussex county; Portsmouth and Southampton ua's split from Hampshire county; Leicester and Rutland ua's split from Leicestershire county; Stoke-on-Trent ua split from Staffordshire county; Swindon ua (formerly Thamesdown) split from Wiltshire county.
  8. 1997-05-02: Name of Blackburn changed to Blackburn with Darwen.
  9. 1998-04-01: Berkshire county split into Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire (formerly Newbury), Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham ua's; Peterborough ua split from Cambridgeshire county; Halton and Warrington ua's split from Cheshire county; Plymouth and Torbay ua's split from Devon county; Southend and Thurrock ua's split from Essex county; Hereford & Worcester county split into Herefordshire ua and Worcestershire county; Medway ua (formerly Medway Towns) split from Kent county; Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool ua's split from Lancashire county; Nottingham ua split from Nottinghamshire county; Telford and Wrekin ua (formerly The Wrekin) split from Shropshire county.
  10. 1998-08: Merseyside GOR merged with North West GOR.
  11. 1999-02-01: Name of Eastern GOR changed to East of England GOR.
  12. 2000-07-03: Greater London Authority Act 1999 took effect, creating a local government structure for Greater London. Previously, this area had been divided into the following 33 boroughs:
Barking and DagenhamGB.BABDGUKA1UKI21163,9443413
Hammersmith and FulhamGB.HFHMFUKF1UKI11165,242166
Kensington and ChelseaGB.KCKECUKG4UKI11158,919125
Kingston upon ThamesGB.KTKTTUKG7UKI22147,2733814
Richmond upon ThamesGB.RURICUKL1UKI23172,3355521
Tower HamletsGB.THTWHUKO5UKI12196,106208
Waltham ForestGB.WFWFTUKO9UKI21218,3414015
  • Name: Short name of division. These are all London boroughs. London and Westminster
    have the more specific status of city London boroughs; Kensington and Chelsea and
    Kingston upon Thames are royal London boroughs.
  • HASC: Old hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: District codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics level-three codes, with some exceptions,
    as described above. First three characters indicate the NUTS-1 region, as shown below (1).
  • Population: Population according to the 2001-04-29 census.
  1. 2009-04-01: Bedfordshire administrative county (former HASC code GB.BD, FIPS UKA5) split into Bedford and Central Bedfordshire ua's. Cheshire administrative county (GB.CH, UKC5) split into Cheshire West and Chester ua and Cheshire East ua. Status of Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire, and Wiltshire ac's changed to ua.


Wales was never a united, independent kingdom. It was conquered gradually by England. The conquest was complete by 1282. The Act of Union of 1536 brought the two countries under one law. Wales was defined as a region by language and class, not by government. Before the Local Government Act of 1888, Wales consisted of thirteen geographical counties (counting Monmouthshire). As in England, the act created county councils for the counties, and split off four cities as county boroughs: Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, and Swansea from Glamorganshire, and Newport from Monmouthshire.

RadnorshireUK9823,26322,59023,51721,32319,99318,43018,2621,219Llandrindod Wells
13 counties2,012,4882,420,9212,656,4742,593,3322,598,6932,651,3402,723,59620,759


1974: The Local Government Act of 1972, mentioned above, created eight counties, subdivided into 37 districts and further into parishes. These are the new counties.

ClwydGB.CDCWDUK90UK91413,8002,426MoldFlint, Denbigh (most), Merioneth (part)
DyfedGB.DFDFDUK91UK91350,9005,766CarmarthenCardigan, Carmarthen, Pembroke
GwyneddGB.GDGWNUK93UK91Gwyn240,1003,869CaernarvonAnglesey, Caernarvon, Denbigh (part), Merioneth (most)
Mid GlamorganGB.MGMGMUK94UK92M Glam541,6001,018CardiffGlamorgan (part), Brecknock (part)
PowysGB.POPOWUK95UK91118,7005,076Llandrindod WellsMontgomery, Radnor, Brecknock (most)
South GlamorganGB.SGSGMUK96UK92S Glam405,900416CardiffGlamorgan (part)
West GlamorganGB.WGWGMUK97UK92W Glam368,700816SwanseaGlamorgan (part)
8 counties2,886,60020,763
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.
  • Conv: Conventional abbreviation.
  • Population: 1991-04-21 census
  • Former: Old counties corresponding to each new county.


Note: the capital of Mid Glamorgan is in South Glamorgan county.

  1. ~1989: Capital of Gwent moved from Newport to Cwmbran.
  2. 1996-04-01: Wales reorganized into 22 unitary authorities. District councils abolished. The new unitary authorities created from each of the counties are listed here. Seven pre-1974 county names reappeared on the map, but only four of them had the same extent as before: Anglesey, Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Pembroke.
Unitary authorityPopulationArea(km.²)CapitalFormer
Aberconwy and Colwyn110,7001,130Colwyn BayClwyd, Gwynedd
Blaenau Gwent73,300109Ebbw ValeGwent
Bridgend130,900246BridgendMid Glamorgan
Caerphilly171,000279HengoedGwent, Mid Glamorgan
Cardiff306,600139CardiffSouth Glamorgan
Merthyr Tydfil59,500111Merthyr TydfilMid Glamorgan
Neath Port Talbot140,100441Port TalbotWest Glamorgan
Powys121,8005,204Llandrindod WellsPowys, Clwyd
Rhondda Cynon Taff239,000424CardiffMid Glamorgan
Swansea230,900378SwanseaWest Glamorgan
Vale of Glamorgan119,200337BarryMid and South Glamorgan
22 u.a.s2,913,10020,798
  • Population: 1993 estimate
  • Former: county or counties from which this unitary authority was formed.


Note: Two unitary authorities have capitals which are outside of their territory: Monmouthshire (Cwmbran is in Torfaen) and Rhondda Cynon Taff (Cardiff is in Cardiff).

  1. 1996-04-02: Name of Aberconwy and Colwyn changed to Conwy; name of Anglesey changed to Isle of Anglesey; name of Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire changed to Gwynedd; name of Cardiganshire changed to Ceredigion; name of Neath and Port Talbot changed to Neath Port Talbot.


Scotland was united with England by the Act of Union of 1707, constituting Great Britain. The Local Government Act of 1889 created county councils, as had been done in England and Wales in 1888. Underneath was a complex structure of burghs and parishes. The Local Government Act of 1929 brought Scotland more into line with England and Wales by abolishing parish councils and creating four burghs (also called counties of a city), analogous to county boroughs. The burghs were Aberdeen (in the geographical county of Aberdeen), Dundee (Angus county), Edinburgh (Midlothian), and Glasgow (Lanark).

ArgyllUK5573,16670,90276,86263,05063,36159,39059,9268,092LochgilpheadStrathclyde, Highland
DumfriesUK6272,56272,82575,37081,04785,66088,44088,5402,777DumfriesDumfries and Galloway
East LothianUK6438,65343,25447,48747,33852,25852,67756,966692HaddingtonLothian
InvernessUK6689,90187,27282,45582,10884,93083,48091,69810,907InvernessHighland, Western Isles
KirkcudbrightUK6939,35938,36737,15530,34130,72528,87027,7612,330KirkcudbrightDumfries and Galloway
MidlothianUK71437,553507,666506,377526,296565,735580,329603,615948EdinburghLothian, Borders
MorayUK7244,75743,42741,55840,80648,21849,17054,8331,234ElginGrampian, Highland
PerthUK76123,255124,342125,503120,793128,029127,056128,6926,458PerthTayside, Central
Ross & CromartyUK7876,14977,36470,81862,79960,50857,64261,4648,002DingwallHighland, Western Isles
RoxburghUK7948,79347,19244,98945,78845,55743,18342,2551,724Newtown St BoswellsBorders
StirlingUK81141,894160,991161,719166,447187,527194,878211,9941,169StirlingCentral, Strathclyde
West LothianUK8364,78780,15583,96281,43188,57792,768112,833311LinlithgowLothian, Central
WigtownUK8432,59131,99830,78329,33131,62029,12427,4101,263StranraerDumfries and Galloway
33 counties4,412,3744,760,9044,882,5574,837,6735,096,4155,202,5925,226,40077,212
  • Subsequent: regions or island areas formed from this county in 1975. Largest portion listed first.


Note: The following counties had alternate names: Angus (Forfar), Dunbarton (Dumbarton), East Lothian (Haddington), Midlothian (Edinburgh), Moray (Elgin), Shetland (Zetland), and West Lothian (Linlithgow). In most cases, the alternate names continued in occasional use long after they had been officially replaced.

1975-05-16: Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1973 became effective, replacing the counties and burghs with nine regions and three island areas. The regions were further subdivided into 53 districts. Each region, island area, and district had its own council. These are the new regions and island areas.

BordersGB.BOBORUK78UKA1103,8814,672Newtown Saint Boswells
Dumfries and GallowayGB.DGDGYUK80UKA2D & G147,1006,370Dumfries
Western IslesGB.WIWISUK89UKA331,0002,898Stornoway
12 divisions4,960,78177,133
  • Region: except Orkney, Shetland, and Western Isles, which are island areas.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.
  • Conv: Conventional abbreviation.
  • Population: 1991-04-21 census
  1. ~1989: Capital of Fife moved from Cupar to Glenrothes.
  2. 1996-04-01: Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act of 1994 took effect. Scotland reorganized into the 29 unitary districts and three island areas (ia) shown here, each with a unitary council. The division was made mostly, but not entirely, along district boundaries. District councils were abolished. Angus, Clackmannan, East Lothian, Fife, Orkney, and Shetland were restored to essentially the same name and territory that they had before 1975.
Unitary authorityPopulationArea(km.²)Former
Aberdeenshire223,6306,318Grampian (part)
Angus111,0202,181Tayside (part)
Argyll and Bute90,5506,930Strathclyde (part)
City of Aberdeen218,220186Grampian (part)
City of Dundee153,71065Tayside (part)
City of Edinburgh441,620262Lothian (part)
City of Glasgow623,850175Strathclyde (part)
Clackmannan48,660157Central (part)
Dumbarton and Clydebank97,790162Strathclyde (part)
Dumfries and Galloway147,9006,439Dumfries and Galloway
East Ayrshire123,8201,252Strathclyde (part)
East Dunbartonshire110,220172Strathclyde (part)
East Lothian85,640678Lothian (part)
East Renfrewshire86,780173Strathclyde (part)
Falkirk142,610299Central (part)
Inverclyde89,990162Strathclyde (part)
Midlothian79,910356Lothian (part)
Moray86,2502,238Grampian (part)
North Ayrshire139,020884Strathclyde (part)
North Lanarkshire326,750474Strathclyde (part)
Orkney Islands (ia)19,760992Orkney
Perthshire and Kinross130,4705,311Tayside (part)
Renfrewshire176,970261Strathclyde (part)
Shetland Islands (ia)22,8301,438Shetland
South Ayrshire113,9601,202Strathclyde (part)
South Lanarkshire307,1001,771Strathclyde (part)
Stirling81,6302,196Central (part)
The Borders105,3004,734Borders
West Lothian146,730425Lothian (part)
Western Isles (ia)29,4103,134Western Isles
32 divisions5,120,20078,134
  • Population: 1993 estimate
  • Former: Regions or island areas from which the unitary
    authority was formed.
  1. 1995-05-03: Name of Clackmannan changed to Clackmannanshire.
  2. 1995-05-09: Name of City of Aberdeen changed to Aberdeen City.
  3. 1995-06-29: Name of City of Dundee changed to Dundee City.
  4. 1995-11-29: Name of Dumbarton and Clydebank changed to West Dunbartonshire.
  5. 1995-12-01: Name of Perthshire and Kinross changed to Perth and Kinross.
  6. 1996-04-04: Name of City of Glasgow changed to Glasgow City.
  7. 1996-04-25: Name of The Borders changed to The Scottish Borders.
  8. 1998-01-01: Name of Western Isles changed to Eilean Siar.

Northern Ireland:

The 1801 Act of Union merged Ireland with Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom. By 1900, Ireland was subdivided into 32 counties, which were grouped into four provinces with no administrative function. After a long and painful independence struggle, Ireland became an independent country with dominion status by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, on 1921-12-06. However, a referendum was held, and on 1922-12-12, six of the nine counties, and two county boroughs, in the northern province of Ulster voted to revert to the United Kingdom. The county boroughs were Belfast (in the geographical county of Antrim) and Londonderry (in Londonderry county).



1973-10: By the Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) of 1971, Northern Ireland was reorganized into 26 districts, each with its own district council, and further subdivided into 526 wards. These are the new districts thus formed.

CastlereaghGB.CSCSRUK6057,90085BelfastAntrim, Down
CraigavonGB.CRCGVUK6376,600382CraigavonAntrim, Armagh, Down
DungannonGB.DNDGNUK6543,900780DungannonArmagh, Tyrone
LisburnGB.LBLSBUK6992,900444LisburnAntrim, Down
Newry and MourneGB.NMNYMUK7387,100895NewryArmagh, Down
North DownGB.NDNDNUK7570,70073BangorDown
26 districts1,575,20014,125


Notes: The capital of Castlereagh is in Belfast district. Northern Ireland had NUTS code UKB.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Names often appear with generics, such as "City of London", "County Durham", or "Isle of Anglesey".

When a division name consists of three words with "on" or "upon" in the middle, hyphens may be inserted or omitted between the words. For example, "Stoke-on-Trent" is the usual form, but "Stoke on Trent" is also seen.

Some variant names for major divisions are:

  1. England: Angleterre (French); Engeland (Dutch); Inghilterra (Italian); İngiltere (Turkish); Inglaterra (Portuguese, Spanish); Англия (Russian)
  2. Northern Ireland: Irlanda del Nord (Italian); Irlanda del Norte (Spanish); Irlanda do Norte (Portuguese); Irlande du Nord (French); Kuzey İrlanda (Turkish); Noord-Ierland (Dutch); Nord-Irland (Norwegian, Swedish); Nordirland (German); Norður-═rland (Icelandic)
  3. Scotland: ╔cosse (French); Escocia (Spanish); Escˇcia (Portuguese); İskocya (Turkish); Schotland (Dutch); Schottland (German); Scozia (Italian); Skotland (Icelandic); Skottland (Norwegian, Swedish); Шотландия (Russian)
  4. Wales: Gales (Portuguese, Spanish); Galler ▄lkesi (Turkish); Galles (Italian); Pays de Galles (French); Уальс (Russian)

Minor divisions:

  1. The suffix -shire can be dropped from county names, except for Berkshire, Cheshire, Hampshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Wiltshire, and Yorkshire. However, when there is a city of the same name, the preferred usage is either "county of Lincoln" (e.g.) or "Lincolnshire".
  2. Blackburn with Darwen: Blackburn, Blackburn and Darwen (variant)
  3. Conwy: Aberconwy and Colwyn (variant)
  4. Cornwall: Cornouailles (French); Cornovaglia (Italian); Cornualha (Portuguese); Cornualles (Spanish); Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (formal)
  5. Derry: Londonderry (variant)
  6. Dungannon: Dungannon and South Tyrone (variant)
  7. Durham: County Durham (variant)
  8. East Riding of Yorkshire: East Riding, East Yorkshire (variant)
  9. Edinburgh: ╔dimbourg (French); Edimburgo (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish); Edinborg (Icelandic); Эдинбург (Russian)
  10. Glasgow: Glasgua (Portuguese); Глазго (Russian)
  11. Greater London: Grande Londres (Portuguese); Grand Londres (French); Gran Londra (Italian); Gran Londres (Spanish)
  12. Hampshire: Southampton (obsolete)
  13. London: Corporation of London, Corporation of the City of London (variant); Londen (Dutch); Lontoo (Finnish); Lund˙naborg (Icelandic)
  14. Londonderry: Derry (variant)
  15. Medway: Medway Towns (variant)
  16. Newry and Mourne: Mourne (variant)
  17. North Somerset: North-West Somerset (variant)
  18. Orkney: Orcadas (Spanish); Orcades (French); Orcadi (Italian); Orkney÷arna (Swedish); Orkn°yene (Norwegian)
  19. Shetland Islands: Zetland (obsolete)
  20. Shropshire: Salop (obsolete)
  21. Southend-on-Sea: Southend (variant)
  22. Stockton-on-Tees: Stockton (variant)
  23. Telford and Wrekin: The Wrekin, Wrekin (variant)
  24. West Berkshire: Newbury (variant)
  25. Western Isles: Гебридские острова (Russian)

For unitary authorities in Wales, the ISO standard shows the Welsh names in brackets when different from the English names. It also assigns these unitary authorities a set of alternate three-letter codes, based on the Welsh names. I don't recommend the use of these alternate codes. "Sir" is a Welsh cognate of "shire".

DivisionWelsh NameISO
AngleseySir Ynys MônYNM
BridgendPen-y-bont ar OgwrPOG
CarmarthenshireSir GaerfyrddinGFY
CeredigionSir CeredigionCGN
DenbighshireSir DdinbychDDB
FlintshireSir y FflintFFL
Merthyr TydfilMerthyr TudfulMTU
MonmouthshireSir FynwyFYN
Neath Port TalbotCastell-nedd Port TalbotCTL
PembrokeshireSir BenfroBNF
Rhondda, Cynon, TaffRhondda, Cynon, TafRCT
Vale of GlamorganBro MorgannwgBMG


These were the level-3 NUTS areas in the United Kingdom before 2000.

RegStatistical regionNUTSPopulationArea(km.²)
EAEast AngliaUK42,091,20012,575
EMEast MidlandsUK34,025,80015,630
NWNorth WestUK86,377,2007,330
NONorthern RegionUK13,083,70015,401
SESouth EastUK517,557,00027,222
SWSouth WestUK64,723,40023,831
WMWest MidlandsUK75,254,80013,012
YHYorkshire and HumbersideUK24,954,20015,427
CChannel Islands 137,196194
IIsle of Man 64,282572
NNorthern IrelandUKB1,575,20014,125
  • Reg: Arbitrary statistical region code.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for
    Statistics level-1 code.


  1. [1] Stanyer, Jeffrey, County Government in England and Wales. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1967.
  2. [2] Keith-Lucas, B., English Local Government in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The Historical Association, London, 1977.
  3. [3] Painter, Joe, "Local Government and Governance". Ch. 15 in The Changing Geography of the United Kingdom, 3rd ed., Vince Gardiner and Hugh Matthews, eds. Routledge, London and New York, 2000.
  4. [4] Pre-1973 FIPS codes come from "Geopolitical Data Elements and Related Features", Defense Intelligence Agency Manual 65-18, Washington, 1972-09-29. This document also assigns UK99 to the Channel Islands and UKA1 to the Isle of Man.
  5. [5] 1901 and 1911 populations come from The Statesman's Year-Book 1913.
  6. [6] 1921, 1931, and 1951 populations, as well as pre-1973 areas, come from The Statesman's Year Book 1959, Macmillan & Co., London. The 1931 populations are confirmed by the EncyclopŠdia Britannica World Atlas, 1951 edition.
  7. [7] 1961 populations come from Whitaker's Almanack, 1964 edition. They are described as "preliminary figures".
  8. [8] 1971 populations come from The Statesman's Year-Book 1977/1978, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1977.
  9. [9] Wilson, Tom, and Philip Rees, "Look-up Tables to Link 1991 Population Statistics to the 1998 Local Government Areas". University of Leeds, 1998-11. Retrieved from http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/wpapers/98-5.pdf (dead link) on 2003-10-09. The figures I used come from Appendix 2, in the column of figures headed "1991 Census usually resident 1998."
  10. [10] The U.K. Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions had a description of the 1995-1998 reorganization, dated 1998-05-12, retrieved from http://www.local.detr.gov.uk/struct/reorg.htm (dead link) on 2000-05-11.
  11. [11] "Local Government Structure" is a summary of the 1995-1998 reorganization published by the Local Government Association, retrieved from http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/the_lga/Structure2.pdf (dead link) on 2000-05-11. Sources [9]-[11] can still be found at the Internet Archive .
  12. [12] The Local Government Association  has some details of the 2009 reorganization (retrieved 2010-06-05).
  13. [13] The problem of "county confusion"—and how to resolve it  is an article on the website of the Association of British Counties. It encourages people to continue using historical counties as a means of identifying locations.
  14. [14] Keith Edkins gives his answer to What is a County? .
  15. [15] "Census 2001: First results on population for England and Wales ". Office for National Statistics, 2002.
  16. [16] New Councils . Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland (retrieved 2013-03-29).
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