National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



Corrections and Revisions
We have made some small revisions to the files below since they were initially published. For more details please refer to the Geography Revisions and Corrections page.


The geography of Scotland comprises the mainland plus many islands.  Some of these islands are inhabited and through time their inhabited/uninhabited status can change. 

Most of Scotland’s islands are found in three main areas, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, and the Hebrides. However, there are also clusters in the Firth of Clyde, Firth of Forth and within bodies of fresh water such as Loch Lomond.

Used in conjunction with the Scottish Postcode Directory’s Postcode Index, users can identify inhabited islands by selecting all live digitised small user postcodes (Date of Deletion and Never Digitised fields are null) and the island code.

Island boundaries

All island boundaries are downloadable in Zip format.


Archived Island maps.
Islands 2011
Islands 2020
Islands 2021
Islands 2022

Island Groups

At the time of the 2011 Census, there were 110 islands known to receive mail, of which 93 were recorded as having at least one resident during enumeration.

The process of creating Output Areas resulted in smaller islands (in terms of population) being merged with neighbouring islands to meet the confidentiality thresholds for census output.  This resulted in 56 island groups for the 2011 Census.

Island Groups boundaries

Shapefiles provided in Zip format that can be used for 2011 Census statistics.

Please note: The files above are Zipfiles, the following files are quite large so may take a few minutes to download.

Population of Scottish Island Regions

The Scottish Government has developed Scottish Island Regions – a new geography for grouping Scotland’s islands into nine different island regions. NRS produces population estimates of Scottish Island Regions, including interactive charts. These estimates are created by aggregating 2011 Data Zones.

Useful Information

If you're having problems viewing this data please visit our Data Download Support

For licencing information please visit our Geography Licencing section


Please contact our Geography Customer Services if you need any further information.
E-mail: [email protected]

A list of common definitions and acronyms used in these pages is available on our Glossary page.