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Scotland (English/ Scots)
Alba ( Scottish Gaelic)
Scottish Flag
Flag of Scotland Royal Arms of Scotland
Royal motto: Nemo me impune lacessit
(English: No one provokes me with impunity)
Scotland's location within Europe
Scotland's location within the United Kingdom
Scotland's location within the United Kingdom
Languages English, Gaelic, Scots
Capital Edinburgh
Largest city Glasgow
First Minister Jack McConnell
- Total
- % water
Ranked 2nd UK
78,782 km²
- Total ( 2001)
- Density
Ranked 2nd UK
Unification 843 by
Kenneth I of Scotland
(Cináed mac Ailpín)
Currency Pound sterling (£) (GBP)1
Time zone UTC, Summer: UTC +11
National anthem No official anthem 2
  • Scotland the Brave
  • Flower of Scotland
    (de facto)
National flower Thistle
Patron saint St Andrew
Internet TLD .uk1
Calling Code 441
1. In common with the rest of the UK. 2. Scotland the Brave is traditionally used for medal ceremonies where Scotland is competing in its own right (e.g. at the Commonwealth Games). Flower of Scotland is often used at international sporting fixtures (football, rugby etc).
Scotland ( Alba in Gaelic) is a nation in northwest Europe and a constituent country of the United Kingdom. The country takes up the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shares a land border to the south with England and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the south-west.The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent state until 1 May 1707, when the Act of Union resulted in an incorporating union with the Kingdom of England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.

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Scottish Inventions
National symbols
Gallery of Images

Etymology - Contents

The word Scot- was borrowed from Latin and its use could date from at least the first half of the 10th century, when it first appeared in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a reference to the Land of the Gaels, analogous to the Latin Scotia. Scottish kings adopted the title Basileus/Rex Scottorum High King/King of the Gaels, basileus meaning sovereign in Greek, and rex meaning king in Latin) and Rex Scotiae (King of Gael-Land) some time in the 11th century, likely influenced by the style Imperator Scottorum known to have been employed by Brian Bóruma in Ireland in 1005. In modern times the word Scot is applied equally to all inhabitants regardless of their ancestral ethnicity, since the nation has had a civic rather than a monoculturally ethnic orientation for most of the last millennium.

History - Contents

The Wallace Monument near Stirling commemorates William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero.
The Wallace Monument near Stirling commemorates William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero.
It is believed that the first group of humans in Scotland appeared around 8,000 years ago. A group of permanent settlers began building villages on Scottish soil around 6,000 years ago. The written history of Scotland largely began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. Part of southern Scotland was briefly, indirectly controlled by Rome. To the north was territory not conquered by the Romans— Caledonia, peopled by the Picts, with the Scots of Dalriada in Argyll. Pictland became dominated by the Pictish sub-kingdom of Fortriu, but the Kingdom of Scotland is traditionally dated from 843, when Kenneth I of Scotland became King of the Picts.In the following centuries, the Kingdom of the Scots expanded to something closer to modern Scotland. The period was marked by comparatively good relations with the Wessex rulers of England, intense internal dynastic disunity and, despite this, relatively successful expansionary policies. Sometime after an invasion of Strathclyde by King Edmund of England in 945, the province was handed over to king Malcolm I. During the reign of King Indulf ( 954- 62), the Scots captured the fortress later called Edinburgh, their first foothold in Lothian. The reign of Malcolm II saw fuller incorporation of these territories. The critical year was perhaps 1018, when king Máel Coluim II defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Carham.The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 initiated a chain of events which started to move the Kingdom of Scotland away from its originally Gaelic cultural orientation. Malcolm III married Margaret the sister of Edgar Ætheling the deposed Anglo-Saxon claimant to the throne of England, who subsequently received some Scottish support. Margaret played a major role in reducing the influence of Celtic Christianity. When her youngest son David I later succeeded, Scotland gained something of its own "Norman Conquest". Having previously become an important Anglo-Norman lord through marriage, David I was instrumental in introducing feudalism into Scotland and in encouraging an influx of settlers from the Low Countries to the burghs to enhance trading links with continental Europe. By the late 13th century, scores of Norman and Anglo-Norman families had been granted Scottish lands.
King James VI inherited the English throne in 1603, uniting the thrones of Scotland and England
King James VI inherited the English throne in 1603, uniting the thrones of Scotland and England
After the death of the Maid of Norway, last direct heir of Alexander III of Scotland, Scotland's nobility asked the King of England to adjudicate between rival claimants to the vacant Scottish throne, but Edward I of England, instead, attempted to install a puppet monarchy and exert outright control. The Scots resisted, however, under the leadership of Sir William Wallace and Andrew de Moray in support of John Balliol, and later under that of Robert the Bruce. Bruce, crowned as King Robert I on March 25, 1306, won a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 23 - June 24, 1314, but warfare flared up again after his death during the second Wars of Scottish Independence from 1332 to 1357 in which Edward Balliol attempted unsuccessfully to win back the throne from Bruce's heirs, with the support of the English king. Eventually, with the emergence of the Stewart dynasty in the 1370s, the situation in Scotland began to stabilise.By the end of the Middle Ages, Scotland was showing a split into two cultural areas — the mainly Scots-speaking Lowlands, and the mainly Gaelic-speaking Highlands. However, Galwegian Gaelic persisted in remote parts of the southwest, which had formed part of the kingdom of Galloway, probably up until the late 18th century. Historically, the Lowlands were closer to mainstream European culture. By comparison, the clan system of the Highlands formed one of the region's more distinctive features, with a number of powerful clans remaining dominant until after the Act of Union 1707.In 1603, the Scottish King James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of the Kingdom of England, and became James I of England. With the exception of a period under the Commonwealth, Scotland remained a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government. After the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic James VII by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from England. In 1707, however, following English threats to end trade and free movement across the border, the Scottish and English Parliaments enacted the Acts of Union, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Two major Jacobite risings launched from the north of Scotland in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the throne. The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians.Following the Act of Union and the subsequent Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Its industrial decline following the World War II was particularly acute, but in recent decades the country has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fuelled in part by a resurgent financial services and electronics sector, the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas, and latterly the devolved parliament. In 1997 the people of Scotland voted to create a new devolved Scottish Parliament, subsequently established by the UK government under the Scotland Act 1998.

Politics - Contents

The Royal Coat of Arms of the Queen in Scotland. A version without the helm is used by the Scottish Executive.
The Royal Coat of Arms of the Queen in Scotland. A version without the helm is used by the Scottish Executive.
Jack McConnell, the First Minister of Scotland.
Jack McConnell, the First Minister of Scotland.
As one of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, the head of state in Scotland is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). Executive power is derived from the Queen, and exercised by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The United Kingdom Parliament retains power over Scotland's taxes, social security system, defence, international relations and certain other areas. The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland, and has limited power to vary income tax. The Scottish Parliament is not a sovereign authority, and the UK Parliament could, in theory, overrule or even abolish it at any time.The Scottish Parliament was first established in 1998 under the Scotland Act. The Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprised of 129 Members, 73 of which represent individual constituencies and are elected on a first past the post system; 56 are elected in eight different electoral regions by the additional member system. The Queen appoints one of the members of the Parliament, on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister. Other Ministers are also appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the Parliament and together with the First Minister they make up Scottish Executive, the executive arm of government.The current First Minister is Jack McConnell (since 2001) of the Scottish Labour Party, who forms the government on a coalition basis with the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The main opposition party is the Scottish National Party, who favour independence. Other parties include the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Green Party.In the British House of Commons, Scotland is represented by 59 MPs in the Scottish constituencies. A Secretary of State for Scotland sits in the UK cabinet and is responsible for the limited number of powers the office retained as well as relations with other Whitehall Ministers who have power over reserved matters stated in the Scotland Act 1998. The Scottish Parliament can refer devolved matters back to Westminster to be considered as part of UK wide legislation under the Sewel motion system if UK-wide legislation is more appropriate for certain issues. The Scotland Office is a department of the United Kingdom government, responsible for reserved Scottish affairs. The current Secretary of State for Scotland is Alistair Darling. Until 1999, Scottish peers were entitled to sit in the House of Lords.The main political debate in Scotland tends to follow the traditional class based divides of left and right that exist in the rest of the UK. Devolution, which all the UK-wide parties have supported to some degree during their history (although Labour and the Conservatives have also at times opposed it) dominated the Scottish political scene in the latter half of the 20th century. Now that devolution has occurred, the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status is over whether the Scottish Parliament should have additional powers, or seek to obtain Scottish independence. The construction of the Scottish Parliament Building was highly controversial, due to the surging cost of the project, although since the building was completed this has receded.The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen the divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. While the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland will also be the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places.

Law - Contents

Scots law is the law of Scotland. It is a unique system with ancient roots and has a basis in Roman law, combining features of both uncodified Civil law dating back to the Corpus Juris Civilis and common law with medieval sources. The terms of union with England in 1707, guaranteed the continued existence of a separate law system in Scotland from that of England and Wales. Formerly, there were several regional law systems in Scotland, one of which was the use of Udal Law in Orkney and Shetland, based on Old Norse Law, which for the most part was abolished in 1611. Various systems based on common Celtic or Brehon Laws also survived in the Highlands until the 1800s.Scots law provides for three types of courts: civil, criminal and heraldic courts responsible for the administration of justice in Scotland. In the Civil courts, the UK House of Lords is the highest court of appeal for all of the United Kingdom including Scotland. The Court of Session is the supreme civil court and the High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court. The Sheriff Court is the main criminal and civil court. District Courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offences. The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry in Scotland.Scots law is also unique in that it allows three verdicts in criminal cases including the controversial 'not proven' verdict.

Subdivisions - Contents

A view of George Square, Glasgow.
A view of George Square, Glasgow.
For the purposes of local government, Scotland was divided into thirty-two council areas in 1996. These are unitary authorities responsible for the provision of all local government services, including education, social work, environment and roads services. Some of the larger councils are also further divided into area committees. Community councils are informal organisations that represent specific areas within a council area. The Queen appoints a Lord Lieutenant to represent her in the thirty five lieutenancy areas of Scotland. The 34 counties of Scotland are also used as geographical areas.For the purposes of administering justice, Scotland is divided into six sheriffdoms. In the Scottish Parliament, there are 129 MSPs representing 73 individual and 8 regional constituencies (with 7 members per region). In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, there are 59 Scottish constituencies. City status in the United Kingdom is determined by Royal charter. Currently there are six cities in Scotland: Royal burgh status is also awarded by Royal charter, and is held by 66 places. Dundee is the only city to also retain royal burgh status; Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling have all had the honour withdrawn.
United Kingdom | Scotland | Council areas of Scotland National Flag of Scotland
Subdivisions created by the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 Aberdeen | Aberdeenshire | Angus | Argyll and Bute | Clackmannanshire | Dumfries and Galloway | Dundee | East Ayrshire | East Dunbartonshire | East Lothian | East Renfrewshire | na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) | Edinburgh | Falkirk | Fife | Glasgow | Highland | Inverclyde | Midlothian | Moray | North Ayrshire | North Lanarkshire | Orkney | Perth and Kinross | Renfrewshire | Scottish Borders | Shetland | South Ayrshire | South Lanarkshire | Stirling | West Dunbartonshire | West Lothian

Geography - Contents

Map of Scotland
Map of Scotland
Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles.
Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles.
Scotland comprises the northern part of the island of Great Britain, off the coast of North West Europe. The total land mass is around 78,772 square kilometres (30,414 mi²). Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 miles) between the River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. The island of Ireland lies around 30 kilometres (20 mi) off the south west tip of Scotland, and Norway is around 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the north east. Scotland lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.The territorial extent of Scotland is generally that established by the 1237 Treaty of York between Scotland and England and the 1266 Treaty of Perth between Scotland and Norway. Exceptions include the Isle of Man, which is now a crown dependency outside the United Kingdom, Orkney and Shetland, which are Scottish rather than Norwegian, and Berwick-upon-Tweed, which was defined as subject to the laws of England by the 1746 Wales and Berwick Act. Rockall was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1972 and made part of Scotland, although this is disputed by the Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Denmark.The country consists of a mainland area plus several island groups. The mainland can be divided into three areas: the Highlands in the North; the Central Belt and the Southern Uplands in the South. The Highlands are generally mountainous and are bisected by the Great Glen into the Grampian Mountains. The highest mountains in the British Isles are found here, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft). All mountains over 3,000 feet are known as Munros. The Central Belt of Scotland is generally flat and is where most of the population reside. The Central Belt is often divided into the West Coast, which contains the city of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire; and the East Coast which includes the city of Edinburgh, Fife and the Lothians. The Southern Uplands is range of hills and mountains almost 125 miles (200 km) long, stretching from Stranraer in the Irish Sea to East Lothian and the North Sea.Scotland has over 790 islands, divided into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, divided into the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. The Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth also contain many islands. St. Kilda is the most remote of all the Scottish islands, being over 150 miles (240 km) from the mainland.

The climate of Scotland is temperate, and tends to be very changeable. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and as such is much warmer than areas on similar latitudes, for example Oslo, Norway. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of -27.2° C (-16.96° F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on January 10, 1982 and also at Altnaharra, Highland, on December 30, 1995. Winter maximums average 6°C (42.8°F) in the lowlands, with summer maximums averaging 18°C (64.4°F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9°C (91.22°F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on August 9, 2003. In general, the west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, due to the influence of the Atlantic currents, and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Western Isles, had 300 days of sunshine in 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest place, with annual rainfall exceeding 120 inches (3,000 mm). In comparison, much of Scotland receives less than 31 inches (800 mm) annually, and eastern and southern parts of the country receive no more rainfall than the driest parts of England. Snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar experiences an average of 59 snow days per year, while coastal areas have an average of less than 10 days.

Economy - Contents

The headquarters of the Bank of Scotland, located on the Mound in Edinburgh
The headquarters of the Bank of Scotland, located on the Mound in Edinburgh
The Scottish economy is closely linked with that of the United Kingdom, and is essentially a capitalist economy with little government interference in private enterprise. After the Industrial Revolution, the Scottish economy concentrated on heavy industry, dominated by the shipbuilding, coal mining and steel industries. Scottish participation in the British Empire also allowed the Scottish economy to export its output throughout the world. However heavy industry declined in the latter part of the 20th century leading to a remarkable shift in the economy of Scotland towards a technology and service sector based economy. The 1980s saw an economic boom in the Silicon Glen corridor between Glasgow and Edinburgh, with many large technology firms relocating to Scotland. The discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s also transformed the Scottish economy.Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland and the sixth largest centre in Europe [1], with many large financial firms based there, including the Royal Bank of Scotland (the second largest bank in Europe), HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland) and Standard Life Insurance. Glasgow is Scotland's leading seaport and is the fourth largest manufacturing centre in the UK, accounting for well over 60% of Scotland's manufactured exports. Shipbuilding, although significantly diminished from its heights in the early 20th century, is still a large part of the Glasgow economy. The city has Scotland's largest and most economically important commerce and retail district. Glasgow is also one of Europe's top 20 financial centres and is home to many of the UK's leading companies. Aberdeen is the centre of the North Sea Oil Industry. Other important industries include textile production, chemicals, distilling, brewing and fishing.
Scottish Ten Pound Notes
Scottish Ten Pound Notes
In 2003, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) was provisionally estimated to be £18.7 billion, of which 70 per cent (£13.1 billion) were attributable to manufacturing. The largest export products for Scotland are whisky, electronics, and financial services. The largest markets were the United States, Germany and France. [2]Only about one quarter of the land is under cultivation (principally in cereals and vegetables), but sheep raising is important in the less arable mountainous regions. Because of the persistence of feudalism and the land enclosures of the 19th cent., the ownership of most land is concentrated in relatively few hands (some 350 people own about half the land). In 2003, as a result, the Scottish Parliament passed a land reform act that empowered tenant farmers and communities to purchase land even if the landlord did not want to sell. Tourism is also very important throughout Scotland.Finance in Scotland also features unique characteristics. Although the Bank of England remains the central bank for the UK Government, three Scottish clearing banks still issue their own banknotes: (the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank). These notes have no status as legal tender in England, Wales or Northern Ireland; but in practice they are universally accepted throughout the UK , as well as in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands). The Royal Bank of Scotland still produces a £1 note, unique amongst British banks. The full range of Scottish bank notes commonly accepted are £1, £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. (See British banknotes for further discussion)

Demographics - Contents

The population of the Scotland in the 2001 census was 5,062,011. This has risen to 5,078,400 according to July 2004 estimates. This would make Scotland the 112th largest country by population if it were a sovereign nation.

Since the United Kingdom lacks a codified constitution, there is no formal official language. Scotland has three officially recognised languages, however, English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots. English de facto is the main language and almost all Scots speak Scottish Standard English as a first language. Scots and Gaelic were recognised under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ratified by the UK in 2001, and the Scottish Executive is committed, based on the UK's undertakings, to providing support based on Part II of the Charter in the case of Scots and Part II plus 39 out of the 65 provisions outlined in Part III of the Charter in the case of Gaelic [3].Over the past century the number of native speakers of Gaelic [4], a Celtic language similar to Irish, has declined from around 5% to just 1% of the population almost always on a fully bilingual basis with English. Gaelic is spoken most in the Western Isles, where the local council uses the Gaelic name- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ("Council of the Western Isles"). Under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 which was passed by the Scottish Parliament to provide a statutory basis for a limited range of Gaelic language service provision, English and Gaelic receive "equal respect" but do not have equal legal status [5]. It is estimated by the General Register Office for Scotland that 30% of the population are fluent in Scots, a West Germanic sister language to English. However, it is still disputed by some whether Scots is a language in its own right or merely a dialect of English.
The ruins of the Cathedral of St Andrew in St Andrews, Fife.
The ruins of the Cathedral of St Andrew in St Andrews, Fife.

The Church of Scotland (sometimes referred to as The Kirk) is the national church, but it is not subject to state control nor is it "established" in the same manner as the Church of England within England. It was recognised as independent of Parliament by the Church of Scotland Act 1921, settling centuries of dispute between Church and State over jurisdiction in spiritual matters.The Scottish Reformation, initiated in 1560 and led by John Knox, was Calvinist, and throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Church of Scotland maintained a strict theology and kept a tight control over the morality of the population. The Church had an overwhelming influence on the cultural development of Scotland in early modern times. Other Protestant denominations, include the Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian off-shoot from the Church of Scotland adhering to a more conservative style of Calvinism, and the Scottish Episcopal Church, which forms part of the Anglican Communion. Roman Catholicism, which survived the Reformation especially on islands like Uist and Barra despite the suppression of the 16th to late 18th centuries, and was strengthened particularly in the West of Scotland during the 19th century by immigration from Ireland, has now become the second largest Christian denomination after the Church of Scotland. Much of Scotland (particularly the West Central Belt around Glasgow) has experienced problems caused by sectarianism, particularly relating to football rivalry between Celtic and Rangers.Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Scotland. There are also significant Jewish (though higher in past decades) and Sikh communities, especially in Glasgow. Scotland has a high proportion of persons who regard themselves as belonging to 'no religion'. Indeed, this was the second most common response in the 2001 census.

Education - Contents

The system of education in Scotland is separate from the rest of the United Kingdom. It has a distinctive history as the first country since Sparta in classical Greece to implement a system of general public education. The early roots were in the Education Act of 1496 which first introduced compulsory education for the eldest sons of nobles, then the principle of general public education was set with the Reformation establishment of the national Kirk which in 1561 set out a national programme for spiritual reform, including a school in every parish. Education finally came under the control of the state rather than the Church and became compulsory for all children from the implementation of the Education Act of 1872 onwards. As a result, for over two hundred years Scotland had a higher percentage of its population educated at primary, secondary and tertiary levels than any other country in Europe. The differences in education have manifested themselves in different ways, but most noticeably in the number of Scots who went on to become leaders in their fields during the 18th and 19th centuries.School students in Scotland sit Standard Grade exams at the age of 15 or 16, sometimes earlier, for up to eight subjects including compulsory exams in English, mathematics, a foreign language, a science subject and a social subject. Each school may vary these compulsory combinations. The school leaving age is 16, after which students may choose to remain at school and study for, Access, Intermediate or Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. However, some students at private independent schools may follow the English system and study towards GCSEs instead of Standard Grades, and towards A and AS-Levels instead of Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. The Scottish Executive fund over forty Further and Higher Education Colleges where students can study for more vocational qualifications; degree entry qualifications such as diplomas; and specialist courses in the arts or agriculture.Scotland also has 13 universities and one university college, including the four ancient universities founded in the medieval period: University of St Andrews (1413), University of Glasgow (1451), University of Aberdeen (1495) and University of Edinburgh (1583). Students studing towards Bachelor's degrees at Scottish universities study for 4 years, with the option to graduate with an ordinary degree after 3 years or a fourth year of study for a honours degree. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scottish students studying at a Scottish university do not have to pay for tuition fees. All Scottish universities attract a high percentage of overseas students, and many have links with overseas institutions.

Culture - Contents

Robert Burns, Scottish poet
Robert Burns, Scottish poet
Although Scotland shares many aspects of its culture with the rest of the United Kingdom, there is distinct cultural differences identifable in some areas. There exists a distinct Scottish national identity which is present in the Scottish cultural scene.

The Scottish music scene is a significant aspect of Scottish culture, with both traditional and modern influences. The most famous type of Scottish music is the bagpipes, a wind instrument consisting of one or more musical pipes which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. The fiddle and accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments, heavily featured in Scottish country dance bands. Famous traditional musicians from recent times include Andy Stewart, the Corries and the contemporary Dougie MacLean. Modern Scottish pop music has produced many international bands including the Bay City Rollers, Deacon Blue, Texas, Franz Ferdinand and Travis, as well as individual artists such as Gerry Rafferty, and world-famous Gaelic groups such as Runrig and Capercaillie. These have been joined by Gaelic punk bands such as Oi Polloi who give an ancient culture a new voice.

Scottish literature has had a long and successful history. In Scotland, the most famous works are perhaps those of Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. The works of Burns, written in the Scots language is celebrated annually on Burns' Night ( January 25). Other famous Scottish writers include Walter Scott, James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson; and more recently, Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting) J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher's Stone, in a coffee shop in Edinburgh.

Hampden Park, Glasgow, home of Scottish football and  holder of most European records for attendance size.
Hampden Park, Glasgow, home of Scottish football and holder of most European records for attendance size.
Scotland also has its own sporting competitions distinct from the rest of the UK, such as the Scottish Football League and the Scottish Rugby Union. This gives the country independent representation at many international sporting events such as the football World Cup, although notably not the Olympic Games. Association Football is the most popular sport in the country, both played and watched. The Scottish Football Association is the second oldest national football association in the world, with the Scottish national football team playing and hosting the world's first ever international football match. The Scottish Cup is the world's oldest national trophy.Scottish professional rugby clubs compete in the Celtic League. However, the country retains a national league for amateur and semi-pro clubs. Shinty is run by the Camanachd Association and is played primarily in its Highland heartland, but also in most universities and cities. Scotland is often considered the " Home of Golf", and is well known for its many links courses, including the Old Course. Scotland is the home of curling (current Olympic Champions, female) which, though not as popular as in Canada, remains more popular in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe. Snooker, hockey, basketball and increasingly, tennis, are popular in Scotland too. There are also about 12,000 active cricketers in Scotland [6].

Scotland has distinct media from the rest of the UK. For example, it produces many national newspapers such as Daily Record (Scotland's leading tabloid), The Herald, based in Glasgow, and The Scotsman in Edinburgh. Regional dailies include The Courier in Dundee in the east, and The Press and Journal serving Aberdeen and the north.Scotland has its own BBC services which include the national radio stations, BBC Radio Scotland and Gaelic language service, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal. There are also a number of BBC and independent local radio stations throughout the country, the largest of which are Clyde 1, Forth One and Real Radio.In addition to radio, BBC Scotland also runs two national television stations. ITV, the main commerical broadcaster in the UK has two Scottish stations ( Scottish TV and Grampian TV, while Border TV, based in Cumbria, broadcasts in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. Tele-G, the only Gaelic language channel, broadcasts on the UK's Freeview platform between 6-7 pm every day. BBC Scotland and the Scottish ITV channels broadcast regional news in Scotland, as well as Gaelic language programmes.Scottish news programmes include BBC Reporting Scotland and BBC Newsnight Scotland, as well as regional programmes like, Scotland Today (Scottish TV) and North Tonight (Grampian TV. Border TV covers both Scotland and England's border region. Lookaround is the news programme broadcast in this region.

Transport - Contents

Scotland has four main international airports ( Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick and Aberdeen) that serve a wide variety of national, European and intercontinental routes with scheduled and chartered flights. Highland and Islands Airports operate 10 regional airports serving the more remote locations of Scotland. There is no national airline, however various small airlines have their base in Scotland including Loganair (operates as a franchise of British Airways), Flyglobespan and ScotAirways.Scotland has a large and expanding rail network, which is now managed independently from the rest of the UK. All three of the UK's national routes (the East Coast and West Coast Mainlines and the Cross Country Line) serve the major cities of Scotland. First ScotRail operate services within Scotland. The Scottish Executive has pursued a policy of building new railway lines, and reopening closed ones since devolution.The road network is managed by the Scottish local authorities in each of their areas. The M74 motorway connects Glasgow with the North of England; the A1 road connects Edinburgh with London. The country's busiest motorway is the M8 which runs between Langbank ( Renfrewshire) and Edinburgh.Ferry services operate between the mainland and the Scottish island communities. A ferry service from Rosyth connects Scotland to mainland Europe.

Scottish Inventions - Contents

Since before the Industrial Revolution, Scots have been at the forefront of innovation and discovery across a wide range of spheres: the steam engine, the bicycle, tarmacadam roads, the telephone, television, the transistor, the motion picture, penicillin, electromagnetics, radar, insulin and calculus are only a few of the most significant products of Scottish ingenuity.For more, see Scottish inventions.

National symbols - Contents

The Royal Stewart Tartan.
The Royal Stewart Tartan.
  • The Flag of Scotland could date from as early as the 9th century. Although the St. Andrews Cross now also forms part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom, it can still be found flying all over Scotland. There is currently a campaign within the Scottish Parliament to create a national holiday on Saint Andrew's Day, the 30 November.
  • The Royal Standard of Scotland, a banner showing the old royal arms of the Kings of Scotland is also frequently to be seen, particuarly at sporting events involving a Scottish team. Often called the lion rampant (after its chief heraldic device), it is the property of the Queen and its use by anybody else is technically illegal.
  • The unicorn is also used as a symbol of Scotland. The Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland, used prior to 1603 by the Kings of Scotland, incorporated a lion rampant shield supported by two unicorns. On the union of the crowns, the Arms were quartered with those of England and Ireland, and one unicorn was replaced by a lion (the supporters of England).
  • The thistle, the national flower of Scotland, features in many Scottish symbols and logos, and UK currency.
  • Flower of Scotland is popularly held to be the national anthem of Scotland, and is played at international events such as football or rugby matches involving the Scottish national team. However, since devolution, more serious discussion of a national anthem has led to this being disputed.
  • Tartan is a specific woven pattern that often signifies a particular Scottish clan, as featured in a kilt.

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