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2001 census: Geographies

Results from Scotland's Census are available for a range of geographies.



All 2001 census geography is based on a list of postcodes and their boundaries from December 2000.

When we processed 2001 census returns, we counted how many households and people were in each postcode. We then used the results to create output areas.

Check how we assigned postcodes to output areas using our postcode index.

Output area

We created output areas by gathering together postcodes. Different population densities mean the size and shape of output areas can vary across Scotland. Output areas form the building blocks for all other census geographies.

Check our Output Area to Higher Area Index to see how 2001 output areas fit into other census geographies.

Council areas/local authority

Council areas are areas made for local government. There are 32 council areas in Scotland. Also known as local authorities, these council areas were established in 1996. The Council Area is the main area for 2001 output.

Parliamentary constituencies

Parliamentary constituencies could relate to:

  • UK parliament constituencies
  • Scottish parliament constituencies
  • Scottish parliament regions

In 2001, UK parliamentary constituencies were the same as Scottish parliamentary constituencies, except for Orkney and Shetland. They are combined into a single UK constituency.

Parliamentary constituencies are defined in terms of local authority wards existing at the time constituencies were created.

2001 local authority wards did not fit exactly into any of the parliamentary constituencies at the time.

Health board 2001

In 2001, there were 15 health board areas responsible for local health care in Scotland.

Postcode Sector

Postcode sectors are one level above full individual postcodes. They consist of the first part of a postcode: for example, the postcode sector for 'EH1 2LP' is 'EH1 2'.

We created census specific postcode sectors for 2 reasons:

  • to make sure they meet a minimum threshold for households and people
  • so that they do not cross council area boundaries

There are 2 types of census-specific postcode sectors in census outputs:

  • the Local Characteristic sector (LC)
  • the Detailed Characteristic sector (DC)

The difference between the 2 types is how many households and people can be included to protect confidentiality.

This is because some of our outputs tables contain a lot of detail. So if there are fewer households included, it would increase the risk of individuals being identified.

2001 wards

Wards can refer to either:

  • local authority electoral wards
  • standard tables wards (created by us)
  • census area statistics wards (created by us)

In 2001, the 32 local authority areas were divided into 1,222 electoral wards.

The standard tables wards and census area statistics wards do not fit exactly into electoral wards. No census outputs are available for electoral wards.

Settlement 2001

A settlement is an area that:

  • has a group of high-density postcodes
  • has a population of at least 500 people
  • is separated from other settlements by an area of low-density postcodes


A locality is a group of high-density postcodes within a settlement. They divide large settlements into smaller areas.

Civil Parish

Civil Parishes formed part of Scotland’s local government system from 1845 to 1930. We have produced data for all Scotland's 861 civil parishes for all censuses since 1891.

Inhabited islands

In 2001, there were 118 islands in Scotland known to receive mail. Ninety-five of these had at least one resident. Some smaller islands were merged with other islands in census results due to confidentiality standards. We produce census information for 54 island groups.


The size of each output area in hectares is taken from their digital boundaries. We used these to calculate the size of some other geographic areas we use.

We used Ordinance Survey information to set the size in hectares of:

  • the whole of Scotland
  • local authority areas
  • health board areas