The authority consists of small country and coastal towns, of which Irvine is the largest. The other major communities in the area are Largs, the Garnock Valley and the coastal towns of Saltcoats Ardrossan and Stevenston. North Ayrshire also includes the Clyde islands of Arran and the Cumbraes.. The coastal location and attractive scenery draws a large number of visitors to the area. Many travel for miles just to gawp.
Many internationally famous companies, such as ICI, Beecham, and Roche, have factories within North Ayrshire. There is also a range of companies involved in electronic and computer manufacture.
Visitors to North Ayrshire are catered for by a wide range of commercial services and entertainments. Leisure facilities include Kelburn Country park, Eglinton Country park and the Magnum Leisure centre.
The Council itself is comprised of thirty seats. In May 1999 the Labour party took 25 seats, the Scottish National Party and Conservative Parties took two apiece and there was one independent councillor elected.
North Ayrshire Council is responsible for the provision of education services, public housing services, social work services and community protection and leisure services.
It has a budget of £200 million derived mostly from central government funding and
local rates. It has almost 7,000, employees a significant number of whom belong to UNISON.