National Records of Scotland

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Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities, mid-2016

Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities, mid-2016

Monday, 12 Mar 2018
Demography news release image

Figures published today by the National Records of Scotland show nine out of ten people in Scotland live in settlements of 500 people or more. 

The statistics show the population in mid-2016 of all areas designated as settlements and localities in Scotland. Settlements are defined as built-up areas of 500 people or more, with larger settlements divided into localities to reflect areas which are more easily identifiable as the towns and cities of Scotland.

These statistics can be used to help understand the population of local communities.

They also feed into the production of the Scottish Government’s Urban Rural Classification which provides a consistent way of defining urban and rural areas across Scotland based on settlement population size and accessibility.

Key findings from the latest statistics:

  • As of mid-2016 there are 519 settlements and 655 localities, this is an increase on the 516 settlements and 643 localities identified in mid-2012.
  • Over 90% of people in Scotland live within settlements. Settlements account for just over 2% of Scotland’s area. 
  • Seven new settlements have been included because their estimated population now exceeds 500 people. These are:
    • Ancrum, Scottish Borders
    • Darnick, Scottish Borders
    • Dirleton, East Lothian
    • Finstown, Orkney Islands
    • Gairloch, Highland
    • Gartloch, Glasgow City
    • Methlick, Aberdeenshire
  • The publication includes details of other settlements and localities that have been separated, joined together, changed name, or passed one of the population thresholds used in the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification (3,000, 10,000, or 125,000).
  • Greater Glasgow is the largest settlement in Scotland with an estimated population of 985,290, representing 20% of Scotland’s total population. The settlement of Greater Glasgow is distributed across seven local authority areas.
  • The locality of Glasgow is the largest locality in Scotland and corresponds more closely to the city area. It has a population of 612,040. 
  • The council area with the largest number of settlements within its boundaries is Aberdeenshire which has 62 settlements. However the combined population of these settlements accounts for only 3.5% of Scotland's population.
  • The council with the highest proportion of people living in settlements is Glasgow City, with less than 0.1% of its population living outside of a settlement. By contrast, in the council area of Na h-Eileannan Siar, 70% of the population live outside of a settlement.

The full publication Mid-2016 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland is available on this website.

An Infographic is also available for this publication on this website.