The County of Inverness or Inverness-shire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) was a general purpose county of Scotland, with the burgh of Inverness as the county town.
"Inverness was the largest and in some respects the most varied county in Scotland. Extending across Scotland from the east coast along the upper shores of the Moray Firth to the Atlantic Ocean on the west, it included actually the whole of the Outer Hebrides with the exception of the Island of Lewis. In addition, the Small Isles - Canna, Rum, Eigg, and Much - and also the Isle of Skye are included in this county.
"Only a small portion of the vast area of over four thousand miles is cultivated, or indeed inhabitable. The rest is occupied largely by mountains, rough hill grazing, heath, natural woodlands, plantations, deep valleys, and stony wildernesses." (From British Towns and Villages Network)
The county of Inverness covered a large mainland area and various island areas off the west coast. The mainland area had a short coastline on the east and as well as a long west coastline and included, as well as the burgh of Inverness, the towns of Kingussie, Fort William, and Mallaig.
In the 1890s two pieces of legislation defined Inverness-shire as a county and set up how it was to be governed on a local basis. The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 established county councils in Scotland, and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894 established parish councils for every parish.
Thus Invernessshire acquired a county council in 1890 and boundaries were altered to make the county a single contiguous area (except, of course, for island areas of the county). These included transfers with the neigbouring counties of Nairnshire, Argyll and Ross and Cromarty.
The burghs of Inverness, Fort William, and Kingussie, which had previously had their own town councils, retained autonomous status and were generally beyond the writ of the new county council.
In 1930 the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 abolished the Scottish poor law system with institutions passing to the local authorities; and reorganised local government in Scotland, introducing joint county councils (for some counties), large burghs, small burghs and landward districts. The landward districts in Inverness-shire were Aird, Badenoch, Inverness, Lochaber, Skye, North Uist, South Uist, Barra and Harris (only the first four were on the mainland; the last five being islands).
The landward districts introduced by this act were the predecessors of the lower tier of local government employed when "regions" were introduced in 1975. With the further introduction of unitary authority areas made in 1996, these districts have been replaced by wards, but not on a one-for-one basis.
Overviews of the county