Background Information

Welcome to DAERA Rural Statistics. These pages contain rural/urban comparisons across a range of social and economic issues.

Source of information

This information was collected from the 2011 census, and from surveys and administrative databases across Government and a rural/urban classification (see definitions) was applied to the data. The most recent data is based on the 2015 NISRA settlement classification.

The most recent statistics present urban / rural comparative data and where possible, information is also split to compare rural areas which are within or outside 60 minutes drive time to Belfast and/or 20 minutes drive time to a town with a population of 10,000 or more.

Earlier figures also present urban/rural breakdowns, and information is shown, where possible, for the east and west of Northern Ireland and the Belfast Metropolitan Urban area.


The breakdowns shown in these statistics are based on the settlement classifications developed by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in 2015.

The 2015 classification proposed a default urban / rural population threshold of 5,000. The classification also included a consideration of service provision for each settlement. This was introduced by calculating estimated travel times to the location of a major service provider, operationalised as the town centre of a settlement containing at least 10,000 usual residents. Accordingly, areas have been classified by whether they are within a 20 or 30 minute drive-time of the centre of a settlement containing at least 10,000 usual residents. Areas were further classified according to their distance from Belfast and Derry / Londonderry.

NISRA produced urban / rural lookup tables based on these classifications at a number of administrative and statistical geographies and these are available on the Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service website.

This information has been compiled by Statistics and Analytical Services Branch, within Policy and Economics Division, DAERA. For queries and further information please contact:

More useful links

DAERA is not responsible for the contents or reliability of the following linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. Listing shall not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. We cannot guarantee that these links will work at all times and we have no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Northern Ireland Government websites

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)

Northern Ireland Government Departments  (Statistics & Research Elements)

Other UK Government agriculture and rural statistics links

Other UK Government statistics websites

Government of Ireland websites

Rural related websites

Academic websites

Back to top