One of Scotland's five New Towns and the only New Town designated in Britain in the 1950s, Cumbernauld developed from an industrial village into an original and award-winning community. Situated 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Glasgow and 5 miles (8 km) south of Kilsyth, it lies north of the Luggie Water, south of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the River Kelvin, and east of Broadwood Loch. From its origins as a handloom weaving village in the 19th Century it later developed in association with other industries such as the manufacture of fire-clay, coal mining and quarrying. It was designated a New Town on 9th December 1955, with plans to house 50,000-80,000 people there, primarily relocated from Glasgow. This target has never been reached, with the 2001 population numbering 49664.
Its economy is centred on retail and high-tech industries, that area mostly built in large industrial parks to the west of the town. Its neighbourhoods include Abronhill, Balloch, Blackwood, Broadwood, Carbrain, Carrickstone, Condorrat, Dalshannan, Deachridge, Dullatur, Eastfield, Kildrum, Seafar and Westfield.
Notable places include Cumbernauld House and Palacerigg Country Park, with its adjacent golf course. There is a small airport and railway stations at Greenfaulds and Cumbernauld, and to the northwest in the village of Croy. Other nearby villages include Annathill, Castlecary, Luggiebank, Mollinsburn and Twechar.
Cumbernauld was disappointed to be named "Scotland's most dismal town" in the Carbuncle Awards of 2001.