National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Settlements and Localities

Settlements and Localities

The settlements of Scotland are built-up areas which round to 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.

Methodology Guide

Mid-year Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland
(PDF 184 KB)

Further information on the quality assurance arrangements for administrative data used in population estimates can be found in the National and Official Statistics section of the website.

Further Background information about Settlements and Localities can also be found on this website.

On 7 December 2022 Ordnance Survey released their Built Up Areas product which has some similarities to Settlements and Localities. This paper explains the key differences to users. Further details on the methods for Built Up Areas can be found on the OS Open Built Up Areas product page.

Spatial Boundaries

Spatial boundaries for mid-2020 Settlements and Localities are available on this site. More information on spatial boundaries is contained in the Geography section of our website

Related Publications

Locality geographies
Scottish Settlements Urban and Rural Areas in Scotland
Key Statistics for Settlements and Localities Scotland
Index of Populated Areas in Scotland

Contact Us 

Please get in touch if you need any further information, or have any suggestions for improvement.

E-mail: [email protected]

Lead Statistician: Esther Roughsedge

For media enquiries, please contact [email protected] 

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