1. Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is subject to the administration of both the UK Government in Westminster and the Northern Ireland Executive in Belfast.

The UK Government retains responsibility for a number of issues, such as international relations, policing, and justice.

The Northern Ireland Executive however has powers in a number of areas, such as health, education, industry, agriculture, environment, and culture.

Northern Ireland is divided into 11 local government districts (LGD) – formerly district council areas (DCA). Each LGD is subdivided into electoral wards.

Northern Ireland's geographical structure

Northern Ireland (N92)

  • Local Government Districts (N09)
    – Electoral Wards (N08)
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2. Local government districts

At the last reorganisation in April 2015, Northern Ireland's 26 single-tier districts known as 'district council areas' (DCA) were replaced by 11 local government districts (LGD).

The LGDs are unitary administrations responsible for all areas of local government, but their remit is more limited than that of local authority districts (LAD) in the rest of the UK.

The six historic counties (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone) are still referred to generally but do not constitute a level of administration.

LGDs are built from electoral wards.

You can download a wide range of maps, including counties and district council areas from the Open Geography portal.

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3. Electoral wards and electoral divisions

Electoral wards and electoral divisions are the key building blocks of UK administrative geography. Electoral wards are the spatial units used to elect local government councillors in local government districts in Northern Ireland.

Electoral wards and divisions are also found in England, Wales and Scotland.

They are also used to constitute a range of other geographies such as the health geographies and Westminster parliamentary constituencies.

Northern Irish local government districts average around 42 electoral wards, English local authority districts (LAD) (both metropolitan and non-metropolitan), London boroughs and unitary authorities average around 23, Welsh unitary authorities around 40, and Scottish council areas around 11.

Population counts can vary substantially, even within a single LAD, but the national average is about 7,900. As at 2021, there are 4,100 people on average in each Northern Ireland ward.

More populous electoral wards tend to occur in large urban areas.

Electoral ward boundary changes are usually enacted on the first Thursday in May each year, to coincide with the local government elections in the UK

As of 5 May 2022, the UK has 8,483 electoral wards and electoral divisions and there are 462 wards in Northern Ireland.

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