It might be expected that governments would need to know how the surface of their territory was used; but there is little evidence that this was so until recent times. It was not until 1984 that there was explicit recognition by central government of the need for reliable information at a national level (Department of the Environment (DoE) 1984) and, despite the introduction in 1947 of statutory land use planning by local authorities, there is still no comprehensive information on rural land use for administrative areas within the country. The purpose of this chapter is to review what is meant by land use and to examine the principal sources of information, on rural land. It is complementary ie this respect to Chapter 6, in which urban land uses are reviewed, and Chapter 12, where ways of collecting data de novo are considered. The division between urban and rural is not, however, clear-cut, especially on the urban fringe; some sources cover both and some essentially urban uses, such as residences, roads and railways, are also important features of the rural environment.