The United Kingdom has 92 traditional counties or shires. The British counties are the oldest surviving national divisions in the world.


The 92 Historic Counties of the United Kingdom

Admin Areas v Historic Counties

Where a distinction has to be made with statutory ‘counties’ (so-called for administrative purposes and from where much of the current confusion arises), the counties are variously known as historic counties, traditional counties or ancient or geographical counties.

Geography & Culture

Historic Counties have no administrative function, existing as geographical and cultural areas.

Most of the counties have an existence stretching back to the Middle Ages, and almost all of the English counties have been established for almost a thousand years.

Highland Shires

Even the relatively young Highland shires (only 450 years old), have a much older existence as geographical and cultural areas.

Local Identity

Over the centuries, many activities, much social understanding and local identity has grown up intertwined with the counties, and so they have become a vital part of British and Irish culture.

Historical Importance

Until the late twentieth Century, administrative functions were carried out by bodies using the counties’ boundaries or approximations to them, and so centuries of public records have been organised county by county, for which reason an understanding of the counties is vital for genealogical and historic research.

Population of Historic Counties from 2011 Census

CountyArea
(sq miles)
Population
(2011)
Density
(persons/sq mile)
Aberdeenshire1,950380,495195
Anglesey27769,751252
Angus899264,044294
Antrim1,175615,701524
Argyllshire3,11064,81921
Armagh512178,598349
Ayrshire1,129367,676326
Banffshire64146,53773
Bedfordshire468602,8471,288
Berkshire722842,8041,167
Berwickshire45726,45858
Brecknockshire74267,59891
Buckinghamshire746916,9031,229
Buteshire22512,53456
Caernarfonshire563139,065247
Caithness61826,48643
Cambridgeshire858460,448537
Cardiganshire69375,874109
Carmarthenshire937184,232197
Cheshire1,0351,668,8941,613
Clackmannanshire4850,9571,061
Cornwall1,365533,594391
Cromartyshire3707,07419
Cumberland1,525306,241201
Denbighshire668277,680341
Derbyshire1,0171,148,3731,129
Devon2,6211,133,463433
Dorset1,005543,296541
Down950528,983557
Dumfriesshire1,06377,16073
Dunbartonshire241262,4191,089
Durham1,0221,467,0371,436
East Lothian26774,882281
Essex1,5912,999,2481,885
Fermanagh71561,17086
Fife504365,493725
Flintshire260215,390828
Glamorgan8271,321,4601,598
Gloucestershire1,2931,147,106887
Hampshire1,6562,099,6401,268
Herefordshire837183,631219
Hertfordshire6331,157,1661,828
Huntingdonshire366211,776579
Inverness-shire4,211118,07728
Kent1,6112,747,7151,706
Kincardineshire38077,670204
Kinross-shire7311,223154
Kirkcudbrightshire89947,54653
Lanarkshire8791,008,0141,147
Lancashire1,9094,942,3642,589
Leicestershire836975,4031,167
Lincolnshire2,6871,038,510387
Londonderry816247,971304
Merionethshire67637,87456
Middlesex2854,000,92714,038
Midlothian362621,6101,717
Monmouthshire542514,723950
Montgomeryshire79661,95678
Morayshire47667,654142
Nairnshire20013,89470
Norfolk2,057807,721393
Northamptonshire998838,786841
Northumberland2,019797,006395
Nottinghamshire8431,096,6171,301
Orkney37621,34957
Oxfordshire754512,345680
Peeblesshire54819,07435
Pembrokeshire625122,122195
Perthshire2,493156,37163
Radnorshire47025,82155
Renfrewshire245508,0642,074
Ross-shire3,08969,50323
Roxburghshire66650,80076
Rutland15237,677248
Selkirkshire26716,01060
Shetland55123,16742
Shropshire1,342472,027352
Somerset1,6331,053,504645
Staffordshire1,1762,159,3921,836
Stirlingshire447244,092546
Suffolk1,505775,099515
Surrey7592,975,8363,921
Sussex1,4661,612,4541,100
Sutherland2,02812,8036
Tyrone1,260178,440142
Warwickshire9181,632,8851,779
West Lothian120154,8301,290
Westmorland78587,466111
Wigtownshire48726,61855
Wiltshire1,374682,380497
Worcestershire7091,125,0371,587
Yorkshire6,0815,218,838858
Population Density (persons per square mile) of the 92 Historic Counties of the UK – from the 2011 Census.

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