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For other uses, see Scotland (disambiguation). See also British Isles (terminology).
Scotland (English/Scots)
Alba (Gaelic)
Scottish Flag 90px
Flag of Scotland Royal Arms of Scotland
Royal motto: Nemo me impune lacessit
(English: No one provokes me with impunity)

(Scots: Wha daur meddle wi me)
Scotland's location within Europe
Scotland's location within the UK
Scotland's location within the UK
Languages with Official Status1 English
Capital Edinburgh
Largest city Glasgow
First Minister Jack McConnell
- Total
- % water
Ranked 2nd UK
78,782 km²
- Total (2001)
- Density
Ranked 2nd UK
Establishment Kenneth I of Scotland
(Cináed mac Ailpín)
, 843
Currency Pound sterling (£) (GBP)
Time zone UTC, Summer: UTC +1
National anthem Flower of Scotland
(de facto)2
National flower Thistle
Patron saint St. Andrew
Internet TLD .uk3
Calling Code 444

1. Scots was officially recognised as a "regional or minority language" under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, ratified by the United Kingdom in 2001, but it still lacks the level of state support given to English and Gaelic.

2. Since Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, God Save the Queen legally is the national anthem. At sporting events over the years, the role of the nation's anthem has been filled by various patriotic songs, including Flower of Scotland, Scotland the Brave and Scots Wha Hae. In the 1990s, one of the country's leading tabloid newspapers conducted a poll to determine which song should be classed as Scotland's anthem. Flower of Scotland won and is now used as the de facto national anthem at international sporting events, although there are those who still consider the other songs as having equal validity.

3. Shared with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

4. Shared with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man

Scotland (Alba in Gaelic) is a nation in northwest Europe and a constituent country of the United Kingdom. It occupies 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 on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Its capital city is Edinburgh.

The Kingdom of Scotland was united in 843, by Kenneth MacAlpine who became King Kenneth I of Scotland, and is thus one of the oldest still-existing countries in the world. Scotland existed as an independent state until 1 May 1707, when the Act of Union 1707 merged Scotland with the Kingdom of England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The flag of Scotland — the Saltire — is thought to be the oldest national flag still in use. The patron saint of Scotland is Saint Andrew, and Saint Andrew's Day is the 30 November. There are currently attempts to create an additional national holiday on this day.

Inventors, Scottish by birth or residence, have played prominent parts in such important inventions and discoveries as Watt's steam engine, Macleod with insulin, McAdam's macadam roads, Thomson and Dunlop with the pneumatic tyre, Bell's telephone, Baird's television, Robert Watson-Watt's radar, and James Chalmers' invention of the postage stamp. Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin and James Young Simpson's pioneering developments in anaesthesia were two of the most important breakthroughs in modern medicine. John Napier contributed Napier's bones and natural logarithms, Adam Smith helped to create modern economics, and the popular sport of golf is usually regarded as a Scottish invention.


See also the main article: History of Scotland.

Historically, from roughly the end of the 14th century, Scotland began to show a split into two cultural areas — the mainly Scots, or English, speaking Lowlands, and the mainly Gaelic-speaking Highlands. This caused divisions in the country where the Lowlands remained, historically, more influenced by mainstream European culture with strong trading links across the North Sea with the growth of the east coast burghs: the Lowlands also lay more open to attack by invading armies from the south and absorbed English influence through their proximity to and their trading relations with their southern neighbours. Gaelic persisted in remote parts of the southwest, which had formed part of the rival kingdom of Galloway during the early medieval period up until the 13th century, notably in the Stewarty of Kirkcudbright and Carrick probably up until the late 1700s. Further north, it should be noted that the cultural boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands was far from static.

The clan system of the Highlands formed one of its more distinctive features. Notable clans include Clan Campbell, Clan MacGregor, Clan Hay, Clan MacDonald, Clan MacKenzie, Clan Mackay, Clan MacLeod, Clan Robertson, Clan Sinclair, Clan Grant, and Clan Fraser, among others.

Historically the Lowlands adopted a variant of the feudal system after the Norman Conquest of England, with families of Norman ancestry providing most of the monarchs after approximately 1100. These families included the Stewart or Stuart, Bruce, Douglas, Porteous, and Murray or Moray families.

During the Wars of Scottish Independence (approximately 1290 - 1363) Scots repudiated the English king's assertions of paramountcy. They fought firstly 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 in 1306, won a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

In 1603, the Scottish King James VI inherited the throne of England, and became James I of England. James moved to London and only returned to Scotland once. Although he subsequently styled himself as the King of Great Britain, this was a personal union: the two nations shared a head of state but for most of the period up until 1707 remained separate kingdoms with the exception of a brief period when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy and Scotland was under English military occupation.

The honours of Scotland were carried in procession at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

In 1707, the Scottish and English Parliaments enacted the Acts of Union, which merged the Kingdom of Scotland with the Kingdom of England, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Union dissolved both the English and the Scottish Parliaments, and transferred all their powers to a new Parliament sitting in London which then became the Parliament of the United Kingdom. However, most of Scotland's institutions remained separate, notably the country's legal system and its established church; these distinctions remain to the present day. At the time of its enactment, the Union was deeply unpopular with many in Scotland, as it had been negotiated from a position of economic weakness after the failure of the Darién scheme, with trade between England and Scotland suffering from English tariffs. Many Scottish Lords who voted for the Union were rewarded with land and money from the English Parliament.

In 1801, Scotland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, when the Kingdom of Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland. Since 1922, Scotland has been one of the four constituent nations (along with England, Northern Ireland and Wales) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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.


File:Scotland map.png
Map of Scotland

Main article: Geography of Scotland.

Scotland comprises the northern part of the island of Great Britain; it is bordered on the south by England. Scotland's territorial extent 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.

The country consists of a mainland area plus several island groups, including Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, divided into the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. Three main geographical and geological areas make up the mainland: from north to south, the generally mountainous Highlands, the low-lying Central Belt, and the hilly Southern Uplands. The majority of the Scottish population resides in the Central Belt, which contains three of the country's six largest cities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling) and many large towns. Most of the remaining population lives in the North-East Lowlands, where two of the remaining three cities (Aberdeen and Dundee) are situated. The final city, Inverness, is situated where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth, on the Great Glen Fault between the North-West Highlands and the Cairngorms.

Major cities

The six designated cities in descending order of population size:

Scottish towns:



See also the main article: Geology of the United Kingdom.

When vulcanism actively occurred in East Lothian, 350 million years ago, the rocks which now comprise Scotland lay close to the equator, and formed part of the newly amalgamated supercontinent of Pangaea. The continental plates making up Pangaea continued to converge, and a major collision occurred with the continent of Gondwana.

The northern and southern parts of the island of Great Britain became adjoined only 75 million years before the onset of vulcanism in East Lothian. Before then, Scotland lay on the margin of the Laurentian continent, which included North America and Greenland. England and Wales lay some 40° of latitude further south, adjacent to Africa and South America in the Gondwanan continent. In the Early Ordovician, approximately 475 million years ago, England and Wales, on the Avalonian plate, rifted away from Gondwana and drifted northward towards Laurentia. The Iapetus Ocean, which separated the two land masses, began to close. By the mid-Silurian, about 420 million years ago, its margins had become attached along the Iapetus Suture, which roughly follows a line running West to East from the Solway Firth to Northumberland.

When the later episode of vulcanism occurred, approximately 270 million years ago, Scotland still comprised part of Pangaea, but had drifted northward. East Lothian stood at about 8°North. Consolidation of Pangaea had continued so that the nearest ocean, the Tethys seaway, lay between Eurasia and Africa.

Government and politics


As one of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Scotland is represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London. The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh has the power to govern the country on Scotland-specific matters and has a limited power to vary income tax. The United Kingdom Parliament retains responsibility for Scotland's defence, international relations and certain other areas. The Scottish Parliament is not a sovereign authority, and the UK Parliament could, in theory, overrule or even abolish it at any time.

For the purposes of local government, Scotland is divided into 32 unitary authority districts. Popular folk-memory continues to divide Scotland into 33 traditional counties.

Head of state

Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the United Kingdom, is descended from King James VI, King of Scots, the first Scottish monarch to also be King of England (James I, King of England from 1603). While great controversy has simmered amongst the Scottish public over her official title since her coronation (many believe that, being the first Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, she should use the regnal name "Elizabeth I"), the courts of Scotland have confirmed "Elizabeth II" as her official title. She has said that in the future monarchs will follow the international ordinal tradition that, where a monarch reigns in a number of non-independent territories (or independent territories that agree to share a monarch) that each have a differing number of previous monarchs of the same name, the highest ordinal used in any of the territories is the one used across all (see List of regnal numerals of future British monarchs). Monarchs between 1603 and 1707, such as James VI and I and James VII and II, reigned over separate states and hence used a dual ordinal (see Personal union). Properly, the Scottish monarch was known as King of Scots or Queen of Scots, and referred to as "your Grace", rather than "your Majesty".

Scots Law

Scotland retains its own unique legal system, based on Roman law, which combines features of both civil law and common law. The terms of union with England specified the retention of separate systems. The barristers being called advocates, and the judges of the high court for civil cases are also the judges for the high court for criminal cases. Scots Law differs from England's common law system.

Formerly, there were several regional law systems in Scotland, one of which was Udal Law (also called allodail or odal law) in Shetland and Orkney. This was a direct descendant of Old Norse Law, but was abolished in 1611. Despite this, Scottish courts have acknowledged the supremacy of udal law in some property cases as recently as the 1990s. There is a movement to restore udal law[1] to the islands as part of a devolution of power from Edinburgh to Shetland and Orkney.

The laws regarding the nobility are also different in Scotland. Lords known as "Barons" in England are known as "Lords of Parliament." Gentlemen known as "Barons" in Scotland are not members of the House of Lords, as their titles (although still legitimate) are based on the old system of feudal baronies.

Various systems based on common Celtic or Brehon Laws also survived in the Highlands until the 1800s.


See main article: Politics of Scotland, also Politics of the United Kingdom

The debating chamber of the unicameral Scottish Parliament.

Historically the politics of Scotland have reflected those of the UK as a whole, although with some differences. For example, besides the main UK-wide political parties (Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats) a number of Scottish-specific parties operate. These include the Scottish National Party (SNP) which is Scotland's second largest party and forms the main opposition in Parliament to the Labour-Liberal Democrats coalition, as well as the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and the Scottish Green Party. These parties became more of a force in Scottish politics after the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1998. Unlike England, which has a more of a left/right split politically, the political right in Scotland is actually amongst the smallest political groupings with the four main Parties all coming from a mix of far-left to moderate-left philosophies.

The traditional political divides of left and right have also intersected with arguments over devolution, which all the UK-wide parties have supported to some degree throughout their history (although both Labour and the Conservatives have swithered a number of times between supporting and opposing it). However, now that devolution has occurred, the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status remains between those who support Scottish independence and those who oppose it. Recent trends indicate, according to the State of the Nation Poll 2004, that 66% of Scots would like the Scottish Parliament to have more powers, while only 25% would like to see the powers returned to Westminster.


Scotland has three distinct languages: English, Gaelic, and Scots.

Almost all Scots speak Scottish Standard English. It is estimated by the General Register Office for Scotland that 30% of the population are also fluent in Scots, a West Germanic language sister to the English language. Slightly more than 1% of the population are native Gaelic speakers, a Celtic language similar to Irish. Eilean Siar is the only unitary council region of Scotland where Gaelic is spoken by a majority of the population and that fact is reflected in the use of Gaelic in its official name. Almost all Gaelic speakers also speak fluent English.

By the time of James VI's accession to the English throne, the old Scottish Court and Parliament spoke and wrote in Scots, also known as Lowland Scots or Lallans (although strictly speaking Lallans is a literary dialect of the Scots language). Scots is widely believed to have developed from the Northumbrian form of Anglo-Saxon, spoken in Bernicia which, in the 6th century, conquered the Brythonic kingdom of Gododdin (modern-day Lothian) and renamed its capital, Dunedin, to Edinburgh. The influence of settlers from the Low Countries and Norway in the east coast burghs founded from the reign of David I onwards was also an important factor in the development of the language, however. Scots contains a number of loanwords from Gaelic.

The Scottish Parliament recognises both English and Gaelic as official languages of Scotland, both receiving "equal respect" although not equal validity. Gaelic received official recognition through the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The Scots language was also officially recognised as a "regional or minority language" under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ratified by the United Kingdom in 2001, and the Scottish Executive, has promised to provide support in their Partnership Agreement 2003. The Scottish Language Dictionaries project receives some state funding via the Scottish Arts Council.


Main article: Culture of Scotland

Scotland has a civic and ethnic culture distinct from that of the rest of the British Isles. It originates from various differences, some entrenched as part of the Act of Union, others facets of nationhood not readily defined but readily identifiable.

Scottish education

The system of Education in Scotland is also separate, and 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. In 1633 the Parliament of Scotland introduced a tax on local landowners to fund this, subsequently strengthened with the Education Act of 1696 which remained in force until 1872. The Act of Union guaranteed the rights of the Scottish universities and confirmed the position of the Kirk, maintaining Scotland's pre-eminence in public education. Education finally came under the control of the state rather than the Kirk 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. The politician Jim Wallace stated in October 2004 that Scotland still produces a higher number of university and college graduates per head than anywhere else in Europe.

School students in Scotland sit Standard Grade exams while students in England sit GCSE exams, and then a broad range of Higher Grade exams rather than becoming more specialised under the English A-level system. Following this, a Scottish university's honours degree takes four years of study as opposed to three in the rest of the UK. The university systems in several Commonwealth countries show marked affinities with the Scottish rather than the English system.

Banking and currency

Bank of Scotland £50 note

Finance in Scotland also features unique characteristics. Although the Bank of England remains the central bank for the UK Government, three Scottish corporate 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 (including in Northern Ireland, where Irish banks also issue their own banknotes), 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 notes commonly accepted are £1, £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. Bank of England currency is also accepted as legal currency in Scotland. (See British banknotes for further discussion)

The only legal tender, by a strict definition, in Scotland is coinage of the Royal Mint (including gold); by statute, Bank of England notes below the value of £5 are legal tender, but none are currently circulating. No Bank of England notes in use, or any of the Scottish banknotes, are legal tender in Scotland. In practice this has little effect, as creditors are obliged to accept any "reasonable" attempt to settle a debt under Scots law. All four sets of banknotes are freely accepted in Scotland, and can be considered legal currency, though it is unusual for notes over £20 to be used in normal business.

The pound Scots, which ceased being used with the Act of Union, is still sometimes invoked. Originally the same value as the pound sterling, today it is treated as being worth one-twelfth of a pound sterling, or eight and a third pence, the value it had in 1707. It only exists in a legal sense; generally in archaic laws or bequests, with values given either in pounds Scots or in merks, another archaic unit of currency. The merk, or mark, was worth around thirteen or fourteen shillings Scots — just over one English shilling.

Both the Bank of Scotland and the Bank of England were founded by William Paterson of Dumfries. In addition the modern system of branch banking (in which banks maintain a nationwide system of offices rather than one or two central offices) originated in Scotland. Only strong political pressure during the 19th century prevented the resultant strong banking system from taking over banking in England. However, although Scottish banks proved unwelcome in England at the time, their business model became widely copied, firstly in England and later in the rest of the world.

The Savings Bank movement was created in Scotland in 1810 by the Reverend Henry Duncan as a means of allowing his parishioners to save smaller amounts of money than the major banks would accept as deposits at that time. His model for the Ruthwell Parish Bank was adopted by well-to-do sponsors throughout the world, with most of the British savings banks eventually amalgamating to form the Trustee Savings Bank - more recently merged with the commercial bank, Lloyds Bank, to form Lloyds TSB - and the American examples becoming a Savings and Loan Association. See [2] for further information.


Home of Rugby internationals in Scotland

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 and various rugby tournaments such as the Six Nations. Scotland cannot compete in the Olympic Games independently however, and Scottish athletes must compete as part of the Great Britain team if they wish to take part. Scotland does however send its own team to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

Association Football is the most popular sport in the country, both played and watched. Innovations such as a passing style of play, a team working as a unit, half-time and free-kicks were introduced by Queen's Park F.C., all of which were later incorporated and remain in the modern game. Their Hampden Park home, the world's first and oldest international football stadium, holds several European attendance records including 149,415 watching a Scottish international. 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. The oldest professional football club in Scotland is Kilmarnock FC, founded in 1869.

Scotland is considered the "Home of Golf", and is well known for its many courses, including the Old Course that is synonymous with the game. Established in 1754, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews also codified the rules of golf.

As well as its world famous Highland Games, where several traditional events such as the McGlashan stones are now common in world strongman events, Scotland has also given the world curling, and shinty, a stick game related to Ireland's hurling, and similar to England's field hockey. Whilst stereotypically seen as an English game, Scottish cricket has always had a large following throughout the country.

One of Scotland's indigenous sports.

Scottish professional rugby clubs compete in the Celtic League, along with teams from Ireland and Wales. 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. Kingussie have the distinction of appearing in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful sporting team of all time, having won the league for twenty years in a row.


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 broadsheet, based in Glasgow, and The Scotsman in Edinburgh. The Herald, formerly known as the Glasgow Herald, changed its name to promote a national rather than a regional identity, while The Scotsman, which used to be a broadsheet, recently switched to tabloid format. Sunday newspapers include the tabloid Sunday Mail (published by Daily Record parent company Trinity Mirror) and the Sunday Post, while the Sunday Herald and Scotland on Sunday have associations with The Herald and The Scotsman respectively. Regional dailies include The Courier and Advertiser 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. In addition to radio, BBC Scotland also runs two national television stations. Much of the output of BBC Scotland Television, such as news and current affairs programmes, and the Glasgow-based soap opera, River City, are intended for broadcast within Scotland, whilst others, such as drama and comedy programmes, aim at audiences throughout the UK and further afield. Sports coverage also differs, reflecting the fact that the country has its own football leagues, separate from those of England.

Three independent television stations (Scottish TV, Grampian TV and ITV1 Border) also broadcast in Scotland. Although they previously had independent existences, Scottish TV (serving the Central Lowlands) and Grampian (serving the Highlands and Islands) now belong to the same company (The Scottish Media Group) and resemble each other closely, apart from local news coverage. English-based ITV1 Border has had a more complex position, as it serves communities on both sides of the border with England, as well as the Isle of Man, and it now has separate news programs for each side of the border. Most of the independent television output equates to that transmitted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the exception of news and current affairs, sport, cultural and Gaelic language programming.

Other facets of Scottish culture

File:Wfm holyrood palace.jpg
Holyrood Palace
Home of Scottish monarchs and official Scottish residence of UK monarchs for hundreds of years

Scotland retains its own distinct sense of nationhood. Academic research consistently shows that people in Scotland feel Scottish, whilst not necessarily feeling the need to see that translated into the establishment of a fully-independent Scottish nation-state.

Scotland also has its own unique family of languages and dialects, helping to foster a strong sense of "Scottish-ness". See Scots language and Scottish Gaelic language. An organisation called Iomairt Cholm Cille ( has been set up to support Gaelic-speaking communities in both Scotland and Ireland and to promote links between them.

Scotland retains its own national church, separate from that of England. See Church of Scotland and the section on "Religion" below.

These factors combine together to form a strong, readily identifiable Scottish civic culture.


The Church of Scotland (sometimes referred to as The Kirk) is the national church. Although it is the established church, it is not subject to state control. It differs from the Church of England in that it has a Presbyterian form of church governance. The Scots are proud of the fact that the Scottish Reformation took place at a grassroots level, unlike the English experience, where the reformation, at least in its first thrust under Henry VIII, was a politically motivated top-down reform.

Figures from the 2001 Census on Religion in Scotland:
Religion Percentage of Population
Church of Scotland 42%
No Religion 28%
Roman Catholic 16%
Other Christian 7%
No Answer 5%
Islam 0.8%
Buddhism 0.1%
Sikhism 0.1%
Judaism 0.1%
Hinduism 0.1%
Other Religions 0.5%

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. Because Calvinism does not adhere to the Liturgical Year, for example, Christmas was not widely celebrated in Scotland until the mid-20th century. The intellectual nature of Calvinism contributed greatly to the predominance of Scottish thinkers in the age of Enlightenment (see Scottish Enlightenment), but the Church's distrust of the sensual is seen as the reason why Scotland contributed little to classical music and art before the 19th century. Since the mid-19th century, however, the Church of Scotland has developed into a generally tolerant and heterogenous church with an interest in ecumenism.

A number of other Christian denominations exist in Scotland, foremost amongst them 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 in the 19th century by immigration from Ireland. It has now become the largest Christian denomination after the Church of Scotland, and is strongest in the West of Scotland (although roadside shrines can be seen in the South Isles of the Outer Hebrides, similar to those in Ireland). Much of Scotland (particularly the West Central Belt around Glasgow) has experienced problems caused by the religious divide between Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. Some Scots maintain that sectarianism is still deeply rooted in Scottish society. This problem has historically manifested itself in a number of ways, particularly in discrimination in employment and in football fanaticism. The problems associated with sectarianism in Scotland have diminished markedly in recent years, although some issues remain. The Scottish police have recently moved to restrict the number of Orange Order parades and the state funding of separate Roman Catholic primary and secondary schools remains a controversial issue.

As well as the Church of Scotland there are various other Protestant churches, including the Scottish Episcopal Church, which forms a full part of the Anglican Communion, and the Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian off-shoot from the Church of Scotland adhering to a more conservative style of Calvinism. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Scotland, although its numbers remain small. There are also significant Jewish (though higher in past decades) and Sikh communities, especially in Glasgow (Nancy Morris is Scotland's first woman rabbi). 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.


Main article: Economy of Scotland

Most Scottish industry and commerce is concentrated in a few large cities on the waterways of the central lowlands. Edinburgh, on the Firth of Forth, is a cultural centre, the capital of Scotland, and one of the top financial centres in Europe. Glasgow, one of the largest cities in the UK, lies on the Clyde; it is Scotland's leading seaport and was once a centre of shipbuilding and it supports numerous light industries. Although heavy industry has declined, the high-technology Silicon Glen corridor has developed between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Tourism is also very important.

The significance of coal, once Scotland's most important mineral resource, has declined. Oil, however, gained prominence in Scotland's economy during the 1970s, with the growth of North Sea oil extraction companies. Natural gas is also abundant in the North Sea fields. Aberdeen is the centre of the oil industry. Scotland is a net exporter of energy to the rest of the UK, with abundant electricity generation capacity. Other important industries are textile production (woollens, worsteds, silks, and linens), distilling, and fishing. Textiles, beer, and whisky, which are among Scotland's chief exports, are produced in many towns. Salmon are taken from the Tay and the Dee, and numerous coastal towns and villages are supported by fishing from the North Sea. 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. (see History, below), the ownership of most land in Scotland 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.

National symbols

  • The Flag of Scotland dates from the 9th century making it one of the oldest flags in the world. It now forms part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom. However the Flag of Scotland, known as the Saltire or St Andrew's Cross can be found flying all over 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 banner is flown from Holyrood Palace and Balmoral Castle when the Queen is not in residence.
  • 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. The thistle is used as the emblem of the Scottish Rugby team.


Scotland's iconic claims to fame include:



  • Burns night (25 January)
  • Hogmanay (New Year's Eve)
  • Tartan Day (6 April - celebrated in North America but not normally in Scotland itself)
  • Saint Andrew's Day (30 November — has been championed by some in recent years after having declined greatly in importance after the Reformation)

Clothing and dress

Comic books and characters





Famous Scots

see List of Scots



See also

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External links

Template:Constituent Countries and Nations of the UK

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