SCOTLAND (/ˈskɒt.lənd/ ; Scots : ;
Scottish Gaelic :
listen )) is a country that is part of the
United Kingdom and covers
the northern third of the island of
Great Britain . It shares a
England to the south, and is otherwise surrounded by the
Atlantic Ocean , with the
North Sea to the east and the North Channel
Irish Sea to the south-west. In addition to the mainland, the
country is made up of more than 790 islands, including the Northern
Isles and the
Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in
Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By
inheritance in 1603, James VI , King of Scots , became King of England
and King of
Ireland , thus forming a personal union of the three
Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with
the Kingdom of
England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of
Great Britain . The union also created a new
Parliament of Great
Britain , which succeeded both the
Scotland and the
England . In 1801,
Great Britain itself entered into a
political union with the
Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland to create the United
Great Britain and
Within Scotland, the monarchy of the
United Kingdom has continued to
use a variety of styles, titles and other royal symbols of statehood
specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland. The legal system within
Scotland has also remained separate from those of
England and Wales
Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in
both public and private law. The continued existence of legal ,
educational , religious and other institutions distinct from those in
the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of
Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with
In 1997, a Scottish
Parliament was re-established, in the form of a
devolved unicameral legislature comprising 129 members , having
authority over many areas of domestic policy .
represented in the
Parliament by 59 MPs and in the
Parliament by 6 MEPs .
Scotland is also a member of the
British–Irish Council , and sends five members of the Scottish
Parliament to the
British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Etymology
* 1.2 Early history
* 1.3 Roman influence
Early modern era
Early modern era
* 1.6 18th century
* 1.7 19th century
* 1.8 Early 20th century
* 1.9 Post-World War II
* 1.10 Education
* 2 Geography and natural history
* 2.1 Geology and geomorphology
* 2.2 Climate
* 2.3 Flora and fauna
* 3 Demographics
* 4 Religion
* 5 Politics and government
* 5.1 Devolved government relations
* 5.2 International diplomacy
* 5.3 Constitutional changes
* 5.4 Administrative subdivisions
* 6 Law and criminal justice
* 7 Health care
* 8 Economy
* 8.1 Currency
* 9 Military
* 10 Education
* 11 Culture
* 11.1 Cuisine
* 12 Media
* 13 Sport
* 14 Infrastructure
* 14.2 Road
* 14.3 Air
* 14.4 Rail
* 14.5 Water
* 14.6 Renewable energy
* 15 See also
* 16 Notes
* 17 References
* 18 Further reading
* 18.1 Specialized monographs
* 19 External links
History of Scotland
Etymology of Scotland
"Scotland" comes from
Scoti , the Latin name for the
Gaels . The Late
Scotia ("land of the Gaels") was initially used to refer to
Ireland . By the 11th century at the latest,
Scotia was being used to
refer to (Gaelic-speaking)
Scotland north of the
River Forth ,
alongside Albania or Albany, both derived from the Gaelic
Alba . The
use of the words Scots and
Scotland to encompass all of what is now
Scotland became common in the Late
Middle Ages .
Prehistoric Scotland See also: Timeline of prehistoric
Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern
Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have
existed before the
Mesolithic period . It is believed the first
post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in
12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation
Scara Brae . A
Neolithic settlement, located on the west
Mainland, Orkney .
The groups of settlers began building the first known permanent
houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, and the first villages
around 6,000 years ago. The well-preserved village of
Skara Brae on
the mainland of
Orkney dates from this period.
burial and ritual sites are particularly common and well preserved in
Northern Isles and
Western Isles , where a lack of trees led to
most structures being built of local stone.
The 2009 discovery in
Scotland of a 4000-year-old tomb with burial
Forteviot , near Perth , the capital of a Pictish Kingdom
in the 8th and 9th centuries AD, is unrivalled anywhere in Britain. It
contains the remains of an early Bronze Age ruler laid out on white
quartz pebbles and birch bark. It was also discovered for the first
time that early Bronze Age people placed flowers in their graves.
Scotland may have been part of a Late Bronze Age maritime trading
culture called the
Atlantic Bronze Age
Atlantic Bronze Age , which included other Celtic
nations , and the areas that became England, France, Spain, and
In the winter of 1850, a severe storm hit Scotland, causing
widespread damage and over 200 deaths. In the Bay of Skaill, the
storm stripped the earth from a large irregular knoll, known as
"Skerrabra". When the storm cleared, local villagers found the outline
of a village, consisting of a number of small houses without roofs.
William Watt of Skaill, the local laird , began an amateur excavation
of the site, but after uncovering four houses, the work was abandoned
in 1868. The site remained undisturbed until 1913, when during a
single weekend the site was plundered by a party with shovels who took
away an unknown quantity of artefacts. In 1924, another storm swept
away part of one of the houses and it was determined the site should
be made secure and more seriously investigated. The job was given to
Edinburgh 's Professor
Vere Gordon Childe who travelled
Skara Brae for the first time in mid-1927.
Scotland during the Roman Empire Tablet found at
Bo\'ness dated ca. AD 142 depicting Roman cavalryman trampling
Caledonians . Now at the NMS
The written protohistory of
Scotland began with the arrival of the
Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans
occupied what is now
England and Wales, administering it as a province
called Britannia . Roman invasions and occupations of southern
Scotland were a series of brief interludes.
According to the Roman historian
Tacitus , the
Caledonians "turned to
armed resistance on a large scale", attacking Roman forts and
skirmishing with their legions . In a surprise night-attack, the
Caledonians very nearly wiped out the whole
9th Legion until it was
saved by Agricola's cavalry.
In AD 83–84, the General
Gnaeus Julius Agricola defeated the
Caledonians at the
Battle of Mons Graupius .
Tacitus wrote that,
before the battle, the Caledonian leader,
Calgacus , gave a rousing
speech in which he called his people the "last of the free" and
accused the Romans of "making the world a desert and calling it peace"
(freely translated). After the Roman victory, Roman forts were
briefly set along the
Gask Ridge close to the Highland line (only
Inverness is known to have been constructed beyond that
line). Three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to
Southern Uplands .
The Romans erected Hadrian\'s Wall to control tribes on both sides of
the wall so the
Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the
Roman Empire; although the army held the
Antonine Wall in the Central
Lowlands for two short periods – the last during the reign of
Septimius Severus from 208 until 210.
The Roman military occupation of a significant part of what is now
Scotland lasted only about 40 years; although their influence
on the southern section of the country, occupied by Brythonic tribes
such as the
Damnonii , would still have been considerable
between the first and fifth centuries. The Welsh term
Hen Ogledd ("Old
North") is used by scholars to describe what is now the North of
England and the South of
Scotland during its habitation by Brittonic
-speaking people around AD 500 to 800. According to writings from the
9th and 10th centuries, the Gaelic kingdom of
Dál Riata was founded
in the 6th century in western Scotland. The 'traditional' view is
that settlers from
Ireland founded the kingdom, bringing Gaelic
language and culture with them. However, some archaeologists have
argued against this view, saying there is no archaeological or
placename evidence for a migration or a takeover by a small group of
Scotland in the
Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages ,
Scotland in the
Middle Ages , and
Scotland in the Late Middle Ages The
class I Pictish stone at Aberlemno known as Aberlemno 1 or the Serpent
The Kingdom of the
Picts (based in
Fortriu by the 6th century) was
the state that eventually became known as "Alba" or "Scotland". The
development of "Pictland", according to the historical model developed
Peter Heather , was a natural response to Roman imperialism.
Another view places emphasis on the
Battle of Dun Nechtain , and the
reign of Bridei m. Beli (671–693), with another period of
consolidation in the reign of Óengus mac Fergusa (732–761).
The Kingdom of the
Picts as it was in the early 8th century, when
Bede was writing, was largely the same as the kingdom of the Scots in
the reign of Alexander I (1107–1124). However, by the tenth century,
the Pictish kingdom was dominated by what we can recognise as Gaelic
culture, and had developed a traditional story of an Irish conquest
around the ancestor of the contemporary royal dynasty, Cináed mac
Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin).
From a base of territory in eastern
Scotland north of the River Forth
and south of the
River Oykel , the kingdom acquired control of the
lands lying to the north and south. By the 12th century, the kings of
Alba had added to their territories the English -speaking land in the
south-east and attained overlordship of Gaelic -speaking
Caithness ; by the end of the 13th century, the
kingdom had assumed approximately its modern borders. However,
processes of cultural and economic change beginning in the 12th
Scotland looked very different in the later Middle
The push for this change was the reign of David I and the Davidian
Revolution . Feudalism, government reorganisation and the first
legally recognised towns (called burghs ) began in this period. These
institutions and the immigration of French and Anglo-French knights
and churchmen facilitated cultural osmosis, whereby the culture and
language of the low-lying and coastal parts of the kingdom's original
territory in the east became, like the newly acquired south-east,
English-speaking, while the rest of the country retained the Gaelic
language, apart from the
Northern Isles of
Orkney and Shetland, which
remained under Norse rule until 1468. The Scottish state entered a
largely successful and stable period between the 12th and 14th
centuries, there was relative peace with England, trade and
educational links were well developed with the Continent and at the
height of this cultural flowering
John Duns Scotus
John Duns Scotus was one of Europe's
most important and influential philosophers. The Wallace Monument
William Wallace , the 13th-century Scottish hero.
The death of Alexander III in March 1286, followed by that of his
Margaret, Maid of Norway , broke the centuries-old
succession line of Scotland's kings and shattered the 200-year golden
age that began with David I. Edward I of
England was asked to
arbitrate between claimants for the Scottish crown, and he organised a
process known as the Great Cause to identify the most legitimate
John Balliol was pronounced king in the Great Hall of
Berwick Castle on 17 November 1292 and inaugurated at Scone on 30
November, St. Andrew\'s Day . Edward I, who had coerced recognition as
Lord Paramount of Scotland , the feudal superior of the realm,
steadily undermined John's authority. In 1294, Balliol and other
Scottish lords refused Edward's demands to serve in his army against
the French. Instead the Scottish parliament sent envoys to France to
negotiate an alliance.
Scotland and France sealed a treaty on 23
October 1295, known as the
Auld Alliance (1295–1560). War ensued and
King John was deposed by Edward who took personal control of Scotland.
Andrew Moray and
William Wallace initially emerged as the principal
leaders of the resistance to English rule in what became known as the
Wars of Scottish Independence (1296–1328).
The nature of the struggle changed significantly when Robert the
Bruce, Earl of Carrick , killed his rival John Comyn on 10 February
Greyfriars Kirk in
Dumfries . He was crowned king (as Robert
I) less than seven weeks later. Robert I battled to restore Scottish
Independence as King for over 20 years, beginning by winning Scotland
back from the Norman English invaders piece by piece. Victory at the
Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 proved the Scots had regained control of
their kingdom. In 1315,
Edward Bruce , brother of the King, was
briefly appointed High King of
Ireland during an ultimately
unsuccessful Scottish invasion of
Ireland aimed at strengthening
Scotland's position in its wars against England. In 1320 the world's
first documented declaration of independence, the Declaration of
Arbroath , won the support of
Pope John XXII , leading to the legal
recognition of Scottish sovereignty by the English Crown.
However, war with
England continued for several decades after the
death of Bruce. A civil war between the Bruce dynasty and their
long-term Comyn-Balliol rivals lasted until the middle of the 14th
century. Although the Bruce dynasty was successful, David II\'s lack
of an heir allowed his half-nephew Robert II to come to the throne and
Stewart Dynasty . The Stewarts ruled
Scotland for the
remainder of the
Middle Ages . The country they ruled experienced
greater prosperity from the end of the 14th century through the
Scottish Renaissance to the Reformation . This was despite continual
warfare with England, the increasing division between Highlands and
Lowlands , and a large number of royal minorities.
This period was the height of the Franco-Scottish alliance. The Scots
Guard – la
Garde Écossaise – was founded in 1418 by Charles VII
of France . The Scots soldiers of the
Garde Écossaise fought
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc against
England during the
Hundred Years War
Hundred Years War .
In March 1421, a Franco-Scots force under John Stewart, 2nd Earl of
Buchan , and Gilbert de Lafayette, defeated a larger English army at
Battle of Baugé
Battle of Baugé . Three years later, at the
Battle of Verneuil ,
the French and Scots lost around 7000 men. The Scottish intervention
contributed to France's victory in the war.
EARLY MODERN ERA
Scotland in the Early Modern Era James VI
succeeded to the English and Irish thrones in 1603.
James IV of Scotland signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace
with Henry VII of
England . He also married Henry's daughter, Margaret
Tudor , setting the stage for the
Union of the Crowns . For Henry, the
marriage into one of Europe's most established monarchies gave
legitimacy to the new Tudor royal line. A decade later, James made
the fateful decision to invade
England in support of France under the
terms of the
Auld Alliance . He was the last British monarch to die in
battle, at the
Battle of Flodden . Within a generation the Auld
Alliance was ended by the Treaty of
Edinburgh . France agreed to
withdraw all land and naval forces. In the same year, 1560, John Knox
realised his goal of seeing
Scotland become a
Protestant nation and
the Scottish parliament revoke papal authority in Scotland. Mary,
Queen of Scots , a Catholic and former queen of France, was forced to
abdicate in 1567.
In 1603, James VI, King of Scots inherited the thrones of the Kingdom
England and the
Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland , and became King James I of
England and Ireland, and left
Edinburgh for London. With the
exception of a short period under the Protectorate ,
a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the
crown and the
Covenanters over the form of church government . The
Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 saw the overthrow of King James VII
Scotland and II of
England by the English
Parliament in favour of
William III and Mary II .
In common with countries such as France, Norway, Sweden and Finland,
Scotland experienced famines during the 1690s. Mortality, reduced
childbirths and increased emigration reduced the population of parts
of the country by between 10 and 15 per cent.
In 1698, the
Company of Scotland
Company of Scotland attempted project to secure a
trading colony on the
Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama . Almost every Scottish
landowner who had money to spare is said to have invested in the
Darien scheme . Its failure bankrupted these landowners, but not the
burghs. Nevertheless, the nobles' bankruptcy, along with the threat of
an English invasion, played a leading role in convincing the Scots
elite to back a union with England.
On 22 July 1706, the
Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union was agreed between
representatives of the Scots
Parliament and the
Parliament of England
and the following year twin Acts of Union were passed by both
parliaments to create the united Kingdom of
Great Britain with effect
from 1 May 1707; there was popular opposition and anti-union riots in
Glasgow , and elsewhere.
David Morier's depiction of the
Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden
With trade tariffs with
England now abolished, trade blossomed,
Colonial America . The clippers belonging to the
Tobacco Lords were the fastest ships on the route to Virginia
. Until the
American War of Independence
American War of Independence in 1776,
Glasgow was the
world's premier tobacco port, dominating world trade. The disparity
between the wealth of the merchant classes of the Scottish Lowlands
and the ancient clans of the
Scottish Highlands grew, amplifying
centuries of division.
The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the
Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians ,
including Roman Catholics and
Episcopalian Protestants . However, two
major Jacobite Risings launched in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the
House of Hanover
House of Hanover from the British throne. The threat of the Jacobite
movement to the
United Kingdom and its monarchs effectively ended at
Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden , Great Britain's last pitched battle . This
defeat paved the way for large-scale removals of the indigenous
populations of the Highlands and Islands, known as the Highland
Scottish Enlightenment and the
Industrial Revolution made
Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse
–so much so
Voltaire said "We look to
Scotland for all our ideas of
civilisation." With the demise of
Jacobitism and the advent of the
Union, thousands of Scots, mainly Lowlanders, took up numerous
positions of power in politics, civil service, the army and navy,
trade, economics, colonial enterprises and other areas across the
British Empire . Historian Neil Davidson notes "after 1746
there was an entirely new level of participation by Scots in political
life, particularly outside Scotland." Davidson also states "far from
being 'peripheral' to the British economy,
Scotland – or more
precisely, the Lowlands – lay at its core."
Scotland in the modern era Shipping on the Clyde,
John Atkinson Grimshaw
John Atkinson Grimshaw , 1881
Scottish Reform Act 1832 increased the number of Scottish MPs and
widened the franchise to include more of the middle classes. From the
mid-century there were increasing calls for Home Rule for
the post of
Secretary of State for Scotland was revived. Towards the
end of the century Prime Ministers of Scottish descent included
William Gladstone , and the Earl of Rosebery . In the later 19th
century the growing importance of the working classes was marked by
Keir Hardie 's success in the
Mid Lanarkshire by-election, 1888 ,
leading to the foundation of the
Scottish Labour Party
Scottish Labour Party , which was
absorbed into the
Independent Labour Party in 1895, with Hardie as its
Glasgow became one of the largest cities in the world, and known as
"the Second City of the Empire" after London. After 1860 the
Clydeside shipyards specialised in steamships made of iron (after
1870, made of steel), which rapidly replaced the wooden sailing
vessels of both the merchant fleets and the battle fleets of the
world. It became the world's pre-eminent shipbuilding centre. The
industrial developments, while they brought work and wealth, were so
rapid that housing, town-planning, and provision for public health did
not keep pace with them, and for a time living conditions in some of
the towns and cities were notoriously bad, with overcrowding, high
infant mortality, and growing rates of tuberculosis. Walter
Scott , whose
Waverley Novels helped define Scottish identity in the
Scottish Enlightenment is traditionally considered to have
concluded toward the end of the 18th century, disproportionately
large Scottish contributions to British science and letters continued
for another 50 years or more, thanks to such figures as the physicists
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin , and the engineers and inventors
James Watt and
William Murdoch , whose work was critical to the
technological developments of the
Industrial Revolution throughout
Britain. In literature the most successful figure of the mid-19th
Walter Scott . His first prose work, Waverley in 1814, is
often called the first historical novel. It launched a highly
successful career that probably more than any other helped define and
popularise Scottish cultural identity. In the late 19th century, a
number of Scottish-born authors achieved international reputations,
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson ,
Arthur Conan Doyle ,
J. M. Barrie and
George MacDonald .
Scotland also played a major part in the
development of art and architecture. The
Glasgow School , which
developed in the late 19th century, and flourished in the early 20th
century, produced a distinctive blend of influences including the
Celtic Revival the
Arts and Crafts Movement
Arts and Crafts Movement , and
Japonisme , which
found favour throughout the modern art world of continental
helped define the
Art Nouveau style. Proponents included architect and
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh .
This period saw a process of rehabilitation for Highland culture. In
the 1820s, as part of the Romantic revival , tartan and the kilt were
adopted by members of the social elite, not just in Scotland, but
across Europe, prompted by the popularity of Macpherson's Ossian
cycle and then Walter Scott's Waverley novels. However, the
Highlands remained very poor and traditional. The desire to improve
agriculture and profits led to the
Highland Clearances , in which much
of the population of the Highlands suffered forced displacement as
lands were enclosed, principally so that they could be used for sheep
farming. The clearances followed patterns of agricultural change
throughout Britain, but were particularly notorious as a result of the
late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants
Scots law , the abruptness of the change from the traditional
clan system, and the brutality of many evictions. One result was a
continuous exodus from the land—to the cities, or further afield to
England, Canada, America or Australia. The population of Scotland
grew steadily in the 19th century, from 1,608,000 in the census of
1801 to 2,889,000 in 1851 and 4,472,000 in 1901. Even with the
development of industry there were not enough good jobs. As a result,
during the period 1841–1931, about 2 million Scots migrated to North
America and Australia, and another 750,000 Scots relocated to England.
The Disruption Assembly; painted by
David Octavius Hill .
After prolonged years of struggle in the Kirk, in 1834 the
Evangelicals gained control of the General Assembly and passed the
Veto Act, which allowed congregations to reject unwanted "intrusive"
presentations to livings by patrons. The following "Ten Years'
Conflict" of legal and political wrangling ended in defeat for the
non-intrusionists in the civil courts. The result was a schism from
the church by some of the non-intrusionists led by Dr Thomas Chalmers
, known as the Great
Disruption of 1843 . Roughly a third of the
clergy, mainly from the North and Highlands, formed the separate Free
Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland . In the late 19th century growing divisions
between fundamentalist Calvinists and theological liberals resulted in
a further split in the Free Church as the rigid Calvinists broke away
to form the Free
Presbyterian Church in 1893. Catholic Emancipation
in 1829 and the influx of large numbers of Irish immigrants,
particularly after the famine years of the late 1840s, mainly to the
growing lowland centres like Glasgow, led to a transformation in the
fortunes of Catholicism. In 1878, despite opposition, a Roman Catholic
ecclesiastical hierarchy was restored to the country, and Catholicism
became a significant denomination within Scotland.
Industrialisation, urbanisation and the
Disruption of 1843 all
undermined the tradition of parish schools. From 1830 the state began
to fund buildings with grants; then from 1846 it was funding schools
by direct sponsorship; and in 1872
Scotland moved to a system like
England of state-sponsored largely free schools, run by local
school boards. The historic University of
Glasgow became a leader in
British higher education by providing the educational needs of youth
from the urban and commercial classes, as opposed to the upper class.
The University of St Andrews pioneered the admission of women to
Scottish universities. From 1892
Scottish universities could admit and
graduate women and the numbers of women at Scottish universities
steadily increased until the early 20th century.
EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Royal Scots with a captured Japanese Hinomaru Yosegaki flag,
Burma , 1945.
Scotland played a major role in the British effort in the First World
War . It especially provided manpower, ships, machinery, fish and
money. With a population of 4.8 million in 1911,
Scotland sent over
half a million men to the war, of whom over a quarter died in combat
or from disease, and 150,000 were seriously wounded. Field Marshal
Douglas Haig was Britain's commander on the Western Front.
The war saw the emergence of a radical movement called "Red Clydeside
" led by militant trades unionists. Formerly a Liberal stronghold, the
industrial districts switched to Labour by 1922, with a base among the
Irish Catholic working class districts. Women were especially active
in building neighbourhood solidarity on housing issues. However, the
"Reds" operated within the Labour Party and had little influence in
Parliament and the mood changed to passive despair by the late 1920s.
The shipbuilding industry expanded by a third and expected renewed
prosperity, but instead a serious depression hit the economy by 1922
and it did not fully recover until 1939. The interwar years were
marked by economic stagnation in rural and urban areas, and high
unemployment. Indeed, the war brought with it deep social, cultural,
economic, and political dislocations. Thoughtful Scots pondered their
declension, as the main social indicators such as poor health, bad
housing, and long-term mass unemployment, pointed to terminal social
and economic stagnation at best, or even a downward spiral. Service
abroad on behalf of the Empire lost its allure to ambitious young
people, who left
Scotland permanently. The heavy dependence on
obsolescent heavy industry and mining was a central problem, and no
one offered workable solutions. The despair reflected what Finlay
(1994) describes as a widespread sense of hopelessness that prepared
local business and political leaders to accept a new orthodoxy of
centralised government economic planning when it arrived during the
Second World War
Second World War .
Second World War
Second World War brought renewed prosperity, despite extensive
bombing of cities by the Luftwaffe. It saw the invention of radar by
Robert Watson-Watt , which was invaluable in the
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain as
was the leadership at
RAF Fighter Command of Air Chief Marshal Sir
Hugh Dowding .
POST-WORLD WAR II
Scotland's economy has become diverse and leading in areas such
Rockstar North , located in the country's capital Edinburgh
are responsible for the
Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings trilogies
After 1945, Scotland's economic situation became progressively worse
due to overseas competition, inefficient industry, and industrial
disputes. Only in recent decades has the country enjoyed something of
a cultural and economic renaissance. Economic factors contributing to
this recovery include a resurgent financial services industry,
electronics manufacturing , (see
Silicon Glen ), and the North Sea
oil and gas industry. The introduction in 1989 by Margaret Thatcher's
government of the
Community Charge (widely known as the Poll Tax) one
year before the rest of the United Kingdom, contributed to a growing
movement for a return to direct Scottish control over domestic
affairs. Following a referendum on devolution proposals in 1997 , the
Scotland Act 1998 was passed by the
establish a devolved Scottish
Scottish Government with
responsibility for most laws specific to Scotland.
The Scottish education system has always remained distinct from the
rest of the United Kingdom, with a characteristic emphasis on a broad
education . In the 15th century, the Humanist emphasis on education
cumulated with the passing of the
Education Act 1496 , which decreed
that all sons of barons and freeholders of substance should attend
grammar schools to learn "perfyct Latyne", resulting in an increase in
literacy among a male and wealthy elite. In the Reformation the 1560
First Book of Discipline set out a plan for a school in every parish,
but this proved financially impossible. In 1616 an act in Privy
council commanded every parish to establish a school. By the late
seventeenth century there was a largely complete network of parish
schools in the lowlands, but in the Highlands basic education was
still lacking in many areas. Education remained a matter for the
church rather than the state until the Education Act (1872) .
GEOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY
Geography of Scotland The island of Little
Isle of Arran in the background (left). Traigh Seilebost
Beach on the
Isle of Harris (right)
The mainland of
Scotland comprises the northern third of the land
mass of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the north-west
coast of Continental
Europe . The total area is 78,772 km2 (30,414 sq
mi), comparable to the size of the Czech Republic. Scotland's only
land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 mi)
between the basin of the
River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway
Firth in the west. The
Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the
North Sea is to the east. The island of
Ireland lies only 21
kilometres (13 mi) from the south-western peninsula of
Norway is 305 kilometres (190 mi) to the east and the
Faroes , 270
kilometres (168 mi) to the north.
The territorial extent of
Scotland is generally that established by
Treaty of York between
Scotland and the Kingdom of
and the 1266
Treaty of Perth between
Scotland and Norway. Important
exceptions include the
Isle of Man
Isle of Man , which having been lost to England
in the 14th century is now a crown dependency outside of the United
Kingdom; the island groups
Shetland , which were acquired
from Norway in 1472; and
Berwick-upon-Tweed , lost to
The geographical centre of
Scotland lies a few miles from the village
Badenoch . Rising to 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above
sea level, Scotland's highest point is the summit of
Ben Nevis , in
Lochaber , while Scotland's longest river, the
River Tay , flows for a
distance of 190 kilometres (118 mi).
GEOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY
Geology of Scotland Relief map of
The whole of
Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the
Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation.
From a geological perspective, the country has three main
Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland
Boundary Fault , which runs from Arran to
Stonehaven . This part of
Scotland largely comprises ancient rocks from the
Precambrian , which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny
. It is interspersed with igneous intrusions of a more recent age,
remnants of which formed mountain massifs such as the
A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of
Old Red Sandstones found principally along the
Moray Firth coast. The
Highlands are generally mountainous and the highest elevations in the
British Isles are found here.
Scotland has over 790 islands divided
into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner
Hebrides . There are numerous bodies of freshwater including
Loch Lomond and
Loch Ness . Some parts of the coastline consist of
machair , a low lying dune pasture land.
Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic
formations. Many of these sediments have economic significance for it
is here that the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland's
industrial revolution are found. This area has also experienced
intense volcanism, Arthur\'s Seat in
Edinburgh being the remnant of a
once much larger volcano. This area is relatively low-lying, although
even here hills such as the Ochils and
Campsie Fells are rarely far
Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 kilometres (124
mi) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second
fault line (the
Southern Uplands fault) that runs from
Dunbar . The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian
deposits laid down some 4–500 million years ago. The high point of
Southern Uplands is Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft).
Southern Uplands is home to the UK's highest village,
Wanlockhead (430 m or 1,411 ft above sea level).
Tiree , one of the sunniest locations in
Climate of Scotland
The climate of
Scotland is temperate and oceanic , and tends to be
very changeable. As it is warmed by the
Gulf Stream from the Atlantic
, it has much milder winters (but cooler, wetter summers) than areas
on similar latitudes, such as
Labrador , southern
Scandinavia , the
Moscow region in Russia, and the
Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite
Eurasia . However, temperatures are generally lower than in
the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of −27.2
°C (−17.0 °F) recorded at
Braemar in the Grampian Mountains , on
11 February 1895. Winter maxima average 6 °C (42.8 °F) in the
Lowlands, with summer maxima averaging 18 °C (64.4 °F). The highest
temperature recorded was 32.9 °C (91.2 °F) at
Greycrook , Scottish
Borders on 9 August 2003.
The west of
Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the
influence of Atlantic ocean currents and the colder surface
temperatures of the
North Sea .
Tiree , in the Inner Hebrides, is one
of the sunniest places in the country: it had more than 300 hours of
sunshine in May 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The
western highlands of
Scotland are the wettest, with annual rainfall in
a few places exceeding 3,000 mm (118.1 in). In comparison, much of
Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31.5 in) annually. Heavy
snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with
Braemar has an average of 59 snow days per year, while many
coastal areas average fewer than 10 days of lying snow per year.
FLORA AND FAUNA
A mountain hare (Lepus timidus) in Findhorn Valley, May 2004
Fauna of Scotland and
Flora of Scotland
Scotland's wildlife is typical of the north-west of Europe, although
several of the larger mammals such as the lynx, brown bear, wolf, elk
and walrus were hunted to extinction in historic times. There are
important populations of seals and internationally significant nesting
grounds for a variety of seabirds such as gannets . The golden eagle
is something of a national icon.
On the high mountain tops, species including ptarmigan , mountain
hare and stoat can be seen in their white colour phase during winter
months. Remnants of the native
Scots pine forest exist and within
these areas the
Scottish crossbill , the UK's only endemic bird
species and vertebrate , can be found alongside capercaillie ,
Scottish wildcat , red squirrel and pine marten . Various animals
have been re-introduced, including the white-tailed sea eagle in 1975,
the red kite in the 1980s, and there have been experimental projects
involving the beaver and wild boar . Today, much of the remaining
Caledonian Forest lies within the
Cairngorms National Park and
remnants of the forest remain at 84 locations across Scotland. On the
west coast, remnants of ancient Celtic Rainforest still remain,
particularly on the Taynish peninsula in
Argyll , these forests are
particularly rare due to high rates of deforestation throughout
The flora of the country is varied incorporating both deciduous and
coniferous woodland and moorland and tundra species. However, large
scale commercial tree planting and the management of upland moorland
habitat for the grazing of sheep and commercial field sport activities
impacts upon the distribution of indigenous plants and animals. The
UK's tallest tree is a grand fir planted beside
Loch Fyne ,
the 1870s, and the
Fortingall Yew may be 5,000 years old and is
probably the oldest living thing in Europe. Although the number of
native vascular plants is low by world standards, Scotland's
substantial bryophyte flora is of global importance.
by ethnic group (2011)
% of total
WHITE OTHER BRITISH
OTHER WHITE ETHNIC GROUP
A Calmac ferry at
Regular ferry services operate between the Scottish mainland and
outlying islands. Ferries serving both the inner and outer Hebrides
are principally operated by the
State-owned enterprise Caledonian
Services to the
Northern Isles are operated by
Serco . Other routes,
served by multiple companies, connect southwest
Scotland to Northern
DFDS Seaways operate a freight-only service from
near Edinburgh, to
Additional routes are operated by local authorities.
Renewable energy in Scotland
Increasing amounts of Scotland's electricity are generated through
solar power and wind power, a sizable proportion of Scotland's
electricity is generated that way.
United Kingdom portal
* Celtic Studies portal
Ethnic groups in
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