Skip to content

A Beginner's Guide to UK Geography

This guide is a simple tour of the UK territorial units used in National Statistics work.

You can use the guide to get basic facts on each type of area as well as more specialist information on topics such as boundary change.

Many pages provide access to area names and codes listings, and there is also a separate maps menu.

Whether you want to know the difference between a ward and a parish, how many Westminster constituencies there are in the UK, or simply the name of the longest river in Wales, 'A Beginner's Guide to UK Geography' is your ideal reference source.

A comprehensive range of products is available to download from the Open Geography portal.

We receive information on administrative and other boundary changes; information on changes operative from 2001 has been produced as an Excel document titled 'Boundary Changes in England and Wales between 2001 and 2017', which can be downloaded from the Open Geography Portal.

  • Administrative Geography

    Administrative geography is concerned with the hierarchy of areas relating to national and local government in the UK.

  • UK Electoral Geography

    An overview of the different electoral systems and areas used to elect members to various levels of administration.

  • Census Geography

    The UK census, undertaken every ten years with the most recent being on 27 March 2011, collects population and other statistics essential to those who have to plan and allocate resources. Our major customers include departments of national and local government, and providers of services such as health and education.

  • Health Geography

    An overview of the organisation of the National Health Service administration in the four countries of the UK.

  • Eurostat

    An overview of the three NUTS and two LAU layers in the UK.

  • Postal Geography

    Details of how postcodes are used as the main geographic reference and the benefits of using postcodes.

  • UK Map Collection

    Maps in PDF format, showing various geographic boundaries for the United Kingdom including administrative, health, electoral, Eurostat and other geographies are available to download from the Open Geography portal.

  • Licences

    Information on the use of licensing with ONS data.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.