Scotland is a nation of 5 million people that comprises one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Located in the north west of Europe, Scotland occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain and over 790 small neighbouring islands. Surrounded on three sides by seas, the country has only one land border, to the south, with England. Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is the second largest city in Scotland and one of the largest financial centres in Europe. The largest city is Glasgow, and the Greater Glasgow conurbation is home to 40% of the country's population. Scottish territorial waters consist of a sector of the North Atlantic, North Sea, North Channel and Irish Sea. These contain the largest oil reserves in the European Union.
The Kingdom of Scotland was once an independent state but after 1707 it ceased to be a sovereign state. The Union with England created what would — through further Union with Ireland in 1801 — eventually become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, Scotland's legal system, education system and Church remain separate from those of the other UK constituent countries. Their continued independence have been the cornerstones for the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union.
The word Scotia was used by the Romans as the name of one of the tribes in what is now Scotland as early as the 1st Century AD. The Romans also used Scotia to refer to the Irish.
The Venerable Bede (673–735) uses "Scottorum" as the name of a nation from Ireland who settled part of the Pictish lands. "Scottorum nationem in Pictorum parte recipit." This we can infer to be the arrival of the people, also known as the Gaels, in the Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Western edge of Scotland. It is of note that Bede used the word "nationem" (nation) where he often refers to other peoples, such as the Picts, as "gens" (race).
In the 10th century Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the word Scot is mentioned as a reference to the 'Land of the Gaels'. Word Scottorum was again used, by an Irish King, in 1005. The phrase Imperator Scottorum, was used after the name of Brian Bóruma, by his notary Mael Suthain, in the Book of Armagh. It is thought to imply that Brian Bóruma was overlord of the Scots.
The style was subsequently copied by the Scottish kings. Basileus Scottorum is attributed to the great seal of King Edgar (1074 – 1107). Alexander I (c. 1078–1124) used the words Rex Scottorum on his great seal; So to did many of his successors up to and including James II..
In modern times the words "Scot" and "Scottish" are applied mainly to inhabitants of Scotland, and the Irish connotations are largely forgotten. The language known as Ulster Scots, spoken in parts of North East Ireland, arose through 17th and 18th century migrations from Scotland to Ireland.
Sovereign rule over Scotland rests with the government of the United Kingdom. The head of state is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs, each elected from single-member constituencies. Elections for MPs are held as part of the UK General Election every 4 or 5 years.
The Scotland Office, a department of the UK government led by the Secretary of State for Scotland, is responsible for matters relating to Scotland that have not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Secretary of State for Scotland (currently Douglas Alexander) has a seat on the Cabinet of the UK.
In the past, Scottish peers were entitled to elect sixteen representative peers to the House of Lords. In 1963, the Peerage Act allowed every Scottish peer to sit in the House of Lords, but since recent reforms of the house, this is no longer the case. Hereditary Scottish peers have to stand for election from amongst all hereditary peers who are eligible to sit.
The Act of Devolution 1997 created the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive. These bodies have control and legislative authority over many aspects of Scottish Politics including Health and Education. Control over foreign affairs, military, broadcasting, and fiscal matters such as tax, among other things as set out in the Scotland Act 1998, remain with the UK government and parliament. The Scottish Parliament has a limited power to vary income tax, but so far has not exercised this power. The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen a divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. For instance, the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, while fees are paid in the rest of the UK.
The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprised of 129 Members. Members are elected in two ways. The 73 individual constituencies each elect a single member using a "first past the post" system. Another 56 members are elected by eight electoral regions via the additional member system. The Scottish Parliament was first elected on the 6th May 1999. The parliament serves for a four year period after which new elections are held. There is no limit on members standing for re-election.
The Scottish Executive, the executive arm of government, is led by the First Minister, who appoints its members. The First Minister is elected by the entire Parliament; for example, on 16 May 2007 MSPs voted by 49 to 46 for the Scottish National Party (SNP)'s Alex Salmond to replace Labour's Jack McConnell as First Minister. The pro-independence SNP runs Scotland as a minority administration with issue by issue support from the Green Party's two MSPs. Other parties currently represented in the Scottish Parliament are the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Liberal Democrats together with one independent MSP.
Scotland is subdivided into 32 local council areas, set up in 1996. Each area council is a unitary authority. Councillors are elected by popular vote, serve 4 year terms and are paid a part-time salary. Each council is primarily funded via grants from the Scottish Executive. Councils also raise funds through a form of property tax known as council tax. The local area councils are responsible for the local provision of government services including, but not limited to, police, health, education, social work and road maintenance.
The local areas are further subdivided into Community areas. Community areas may be represented by a Community council but there is no statutory requirement for a community council to be set up and so many community areas remain unrepresented. Community councils have no legislative power. Their primary function is to represent community opinion to the local area council.
The 1707 Treaty of Union guaranteed the continued existence of a separate legal system in Scotland from that of England and Wales. With a basis derived from Roman law, Scottish Law combines features of both an uncodified civil law, which dates back to the Corpus Juris Civilis, along with common law built from medieval sources. . Before 1611, there were several regional law systems in Scotland, notably Udal Law in Orkney and Shetland — based on Old Norse law. Other systems derived from Celtic or Brehon Laws survived in the Highlands until the 1800s.
Three types of courts are responsible for administering justice in Scotland: civil, criminal and heraldic. The Court of Session is the supreme civil court, although civil appeals can be taken to the House of Lords in London. The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court. Both courts are housed at Parliament House in Edinburgh.
49 Sheriff Courts distributed throughout Scotland hear both criminal and civil cases.  District courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offences but will be replaced by (Justice of the Peace) Courts in the near future. 
The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry in Scotland.
Geography and natural history
Scotland comprises the northern third of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the coast of north west Europe. The total land mass is 78,772 km² (30,414 square miles). Scotland's only land border, with England, runs for 96 kilometres (60 miles) between 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 is just 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the south western peninsula of Kintyre, Norway is 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the north east, and the Faroes and Iceland are to the north.
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 UK, and the 15th century acquisitions of Orkney and Shetland.
Topography and geomorphology
Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. Geologically, the country has three main sub-divisions.
- The Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This region largely comprises ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny, and interspersed with more recent igneous intrusions, the remnants of which have formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and Skye Cuillins. A significant exception are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast. The mountainous Highlands are bisected by the Great Glen. The highest elevations in the British Isles are found here, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft). Scotland has over 790 islands, in four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, sub-divided into the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are many bodies of freshwater including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.
- The Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations, and here, the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland's industrial revolution are to be found. This area has also experienced intense vulcanism, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh being the remnant of a volcano active in the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago. Also known as the Midland Valley, this area is relatively low-lying, although even here hills such as the Ochils and Campsie Fells are rarely far from view.
- The Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 km (125 miles) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second fault line running from Stranraer towards Dunbar. The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian deposits laid down 4-500 million years ago.
see Scottish people
The population of Scotland in the 2001 census was 5,062,011. This has risen to 5,094,800 according to July 2005 estimates. Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, has a population of 629,501, and about 2.2 million people live in the Greater Glasgow urban conurbation. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads of any country worldwide with around 13% of the population having naturally red hair. A further 40% of Scots carry the Mc1r variant gene which results in red hair.
Due to immigration since the Second World War, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have significant Asian and Scottish Asian populations. Since the recent Enlargement of the European Union there has been an increased number of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe moving to Scotland. For example, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 Poles living in Scotland. As of 2003, there are 16,315 Chinese people in Scotland and 18.2% of international students at Scottish Universities come from China, making them the largest international student group in Scotland.
- See also: Scottish people
Scotland has three officially recognised languages: English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots. De facto Scottish Standard English is the main language spoken by the majority of people in Scotland. The General Register Office for Scotland estimates that 30% of the population are fluent in Scots, an earlier form of which was closely related to Middle English. Over the past century the number of native speakers of Gaelic has declined from around 5% to just 1% of the population. Gaelic is mostly spoken in the Western Isles.
The climate of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and so has milder winters (and cooler, wetter summers) than areas on similar latitudes, for example Oslo or Moscow. 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 11 February 1895 and 10 January 1982 and also at Altnaharra, Highland, on 30 December 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)
The west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, because of the influence of the Atlantic ocean currents, and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest place in the country: it had 300 days of sunshine in 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland; the western highlands are wettest, with annual rainfall exceeding 3,000 mm (120 inches). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 inches) annually. Heavy 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 fewer than 10 days.
Flora and Fauna
Scotland's wildlife is typical of the north west of Europe although several of the larger mammals such as the brown bear, wolf and walrus were hunted to extinction in historic times. A population of wild cats remains. There are important populations of seals and internationally significant nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds such as northern gannets. The golden eagle is something of a national icon, and white-tailed eagles and ospreys are recent re-colonisations. The Scottish crossbill is Britain's only endemic bird. The flora of the country is varied incorporating both deciduous and coniferous woodlands, and moorland and tundra species. Significant remnants of the native Scots Pine forest, can be found in places.
The Scottish economy is closely linked with the EU and the industrial world, with a strong emphasis on exports. It is essentially a market economy with some government intervention. Scotland was a pioneer in the Industrial Revolution, especially in textiles; after 1850 it concentrated on heavy industry, especially shipbuilding, coal mining and steel industries. Scotland was an integral component of the British Empire which allowed the Scottish economy to export its output throughout the world.
However, heavy industry declined in the later part of the 20th century, leading to a remarkable shift in the economy of Scotland towards an oil, 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 1970's helped to transform the Scottish economy; oil production peaked in 1999 and has been steadily declining, but the price per barrel has risen and so have revenues.
Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland and the sixth largest financial centre in Europe, with many large finance firms based there, including: the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (the second largest bank in Europe); HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland); Standard Life; and Scottish Widows.
Glasgow is Scotland's leading seaport and 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, still forms a significant part of the city's manufacturing base. The city also 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, the "Oil Capital of Europe," is the centre of the North Sea oil industry. Other important industries include textile production, chemicals, distilling, brewing, fishing and tourism.
Only about a quarter of the land is cultivated (principally in cereals and vegetables). Sheep grazing is important in the less arable highland and island regions. Most land is concentrated in relatively few hands (some 350 people own about half the land). As a result, in 2003, the Scottish Parliament passed the Land Reform Act that empowers tenant farmers and local communities to purchase land even if the landlord does not want to sell.
In 2004, Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were estimated to be £16.7 billion, of which 73% (£12.19 billion) were attributable to manufacturing. The largest export products include whisky, electronics and financial services. The largest export markets were the USA, Germany, and The Netherlands. In 2002, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Scotland was just over £74 billion ($130 billion), giving a per capita GDP of £14,651 ($25,546).
Although the Bank of England is the central bank for the UK, 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 the rest of the UK or, indeed, Scotland itself, where only coin is legal tender for the settlement of debt. Although they are fungible with the Bank of England banknotes and universally accepted in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Scottish-issued notes are often refused in England and Wales and they are not always accepted in exchange for local currency outside the UK. The current value of the Scottish banknotes in circulation is around £2.5 billion, including the first polymer banknotes issued in the UK.
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 for both Under the Gaelic Language Act of 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. State support for Scots is slowly growing with the Scottish Executive providing some funding to various Scots language projects and bodies, including the Dictionary of the Scots Language.
Most people in Scotland describe themselves as Christian. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Scotland (estimated population, 50,000) despite accounting for less than 1% of the population. There are also significant Jewish and Sikh communities, especially in Glasgow. At 28% of the population, Scotland has a high proportion of persons who regard themselves as belonging to 'no religion'. This was the second most common response in the 2001 census. Although this is higher than in the other parts of the UK, it has been suggested that this results from difference in the questions asked, rather than a real difference in levels of non-religion. Elsewhere there was only one question, but the Scottish census asked both actual religion and religion of upbringing. The suggestion is that many people elsewhere in fact gave the latter in response to the sole question.
The Church of Scotland, popularly known as The Kirk, is the national church, reflects Reformed theology and has a Presbyterian system of government. 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 this theology; it also kept a tight control over the morality of much of the population. The Church had a significant influence on the cultural development of Scotland in early modern times.
Compared to the established Church of England, the Church of Scotland is much less subject to government control. The UK Parliament passed the "Church of Scotland Act in 1921", clarifying the church's final jurisdiction in spiritual matters and in appointments.
Other Christian denominations include the Free Church of Scotland, an off-shoot from the Church of Scotland adhering to a more conservative style of Calvinism, the Scottish Episcopal Church, which forms part of the Anglican Communion, the Methodists, the Congregationalists, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Roman Catholicism in Scotland survived the Reformation, especially on islands like Uist and Barra, despite the suppression of the 16th to the late 18th centuries. Roman Catholicism was strengthened particularly in the west of Scotland during the 19th century by immigration from Ireland. This continued for much of the 20th century, during which many Catholics from Italy and Poland also migrated to Scotland. Much of Scotland (particularly the West Central Belt around Glasgow) has experienced problems caused by sectarianism, particularly football rivalry between the traditionally Roman Catholic team, Celtic, and the traditionally Protestant team, Rangers.
Scottish cuisine has much in common with others in the UK, but has distinctive attributes and recipes, thanks to foreign and local influences both ancient and modern. Traditional dishes exist alongside international foods brought by immigration and a Scottish public eager to try new dishes. The national food of Scotland is Haggis, which consists of minced offal, spices, suet and oatmeal, stuffed and cooked in a sheep's stomach.
Scottish cuisine is enjoying a renaissance, with a number of Michelin star restaurants operating in the country, serving traditional or fusion Scottish cuisine made with local ingredients. In most towns, Chinese and Indian take-away restaurants exist side-by-side with traditional fish and chip shops; larger cities offer cuisine ranging from Thai and Japanese to Mexican.
The Scottish music scene is a significant aspect of Scottish culture, with both traditional and modern influences. An example of a traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a wind instrument consisting of one or more musical pipes which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. The clàrsach, fiddle and accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments, the latter two heavily featured in Scottish country dance bands. Scottish emigrants took traditional Scottish music with them and it influenced early local styles such as country music in North America. Today, there are many successful Scottish bands and individual artists in varying styles.
Scottish literature includes literature written in English, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Brythonic, French, Latin and any other language in which a piece of literature was ever written within the boundaries of modern Scotland. Some of the earliest literature known to have been composed in Scotland dates from the 6th century and includes Y Gododdin written in Brythonic (Old Welsh) and the Elegy for St Columba by Dallan Forgaill written in Middle Irish. Vita Columbae by Adomnán, the ninth Abbot of Iona, was written in Latin during the 7th century. In the 13th century, French flourished as a literary language long before Early Scots texts appeared in the fourteenth century. After the 17th century, Anglicisation increased, though Lowland Scots was still spoken by the vast majority of the population of the Lowlands. The poet and songwriter Robert Burns wrote in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and in a "light" Scots dialect which would have been accessible to a wider audience than simply Scottish people.
The introduction of the movement known as the "kailyard tradition" at the end of the 19th century, brought elements of fantasy and folklore back into fashion. J. M. Barrie provides a good example of this mix of modernity and nostalgia. This tradition has been viewed as a major stumbling block for Scottish literature, focusing, as it did, on an idealised, pastoral picture of Scottish culture, becoming increasingly removed from reality of life in Scotland during that period. Some modern novelists such as Irvine Welsh, (of Trainspotting fame), write in a distinctly Scottish English that reflects the underbelly of contemporary Scottish culture.
Scotland has its own national governing bodies, such as the Scottish Football Association (the second oldest national football association in the world) and the Scottish Rugby Union; and its own national sporting competitions. As such, Scotland enjoys independent representation at many international sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games; although notably not the Olympic Games.
Variations of football have been played in Scotland for centuries with the earliest reference being in 1424. Association football is now the national sport but earlier versions such as the ba game are still played. Scotland hosted the first ever international rugby union match in 1871 and 20 months later followed with the first ever international association football match. Both were played against England with the rugby union side winning and the association side drawing.
St Andrews in Fife is known internationally as the Home of Golf. To many people, the Old Course at St Andrews, an ancient links course dating to before 1574, may be considered a site of pilgrimage. There are many other famous golf courses in Scotland, including Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Muirfield and Royal Troon.
Other features of the national sporting culture include the Highland games, curling and shinty. Kingussie Camanachd, the dominant shinty team, is recognised by Guinness World Records as the most successful sporting club team in the world. Scotland has ski resorts at Cairn Gorm, Glen Coe, Glen Shee, The Lecht, and Nevis Range. Scotland also hosts snowboarding and most other winter sports.
The national broadcaster is BBC Scotland (BBC Alba in Gaelic), a constituent part of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the publicly-funded broadcaster of the UK. It runs two national television stations and the national radio stations, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal amongst others. The main Scottish commercial television station is stv. Border TV, based in Cumbria in England, broadcasts in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. There are also a number of independent local radio stations throughout the country, the largest of which are Clyde 1]]nd Forth One. Although BBC Scotland and commercial stations broadcast mainly in English, they also have some segments in Gaelic. Tele-G is the only Gaelic language television channel; it broadcasts from 6-7pm every day on the Freeview platform.
The news media is distinct with broadcast television programmes including the BBC's Reporting Scotland and Newsnight Scotland, as well as regional programmes like stv's Scotland Today and North Tonight. National newspapers such as the Daily Record (Scotland's leading tabloid), The Herald, and The Scotsman are all produced in Scotland.
The education system in Scotland is distinct from the rest of the UK. The Education Act of 1496 first introduced compulsory education for the eldest sons of nobles. Then, in 1561, the principle of general public education was set with the Reformation establishment of the national Church of Scotland which set out a theoretical programme for spiritual reform, including a school in every parish, but the scheme was not widely enacted. Reformers in the mid 19th century worked to create secondary schools, attended by a small minority, who studied English, writing and arithmetic. Catholics operated their own schools. Education finally came under the control of the state rather than the Church and became compulsory for all children after the Education Act of 1872. There is a popular myth to the effect that Scots were better educated than any other society; they generally did better than England, but illiteracy was high in many places well into the 19th century, especially the Highlands and the new industrial cities.
Today, students in Scotland usually sit Standard Grade exams at the age of 15 or 16, for up to eight subjects ,including exams in English, mathematics, a foreign language, a science subject and a social subject. The school leaving age is 16, after which students may choose to remain at school and study Access, Intermediate or Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. Some students at certain private, independent schools 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 funds more than forty further and higher education colleges where students study for vocational qualifications; degree-entry qualifications such as diplomas; and specialist courses in the arts or agriculture. Scotland has 13 universities and one university college, including the four ancient universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews founded during the medieval period. Bachelor's degrees at Scottish universities are bestowed after four years of study, with the option to graduate with an ordinary degree after three years or continue with the fourth year of study to obtain an honours degree. Unlike the rest of the UK, Scottish students studying at a Scottish university do not have to pay for tuition fees. The Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) pay course fees for all Scottish students domiciled in Scotland and offer bursaries to eligible students. Scottish students have the option of accepting a loan from the Student Loans Company (SLC), and if eligible, this is paid back after graduation. Scottish students studying outside of Scotland but within the UK have to pay for tuition, but at a reduced rate. All Scottish universities attract a high percentage of overseas students, and many have links with overseas institutions.
Scotland has four main international airports (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Glasgow's Prestwick and Aberdeen) that serve a wide variety of 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 technically no national airline, however various airlines have their base in Scotland including Loganair (operates as a franchise of British Airways), Flyglobespan, City Star Airlines, Air Scotland and ScotAirways.
Scotland has a large and expanding rail network, which, following the Railways Act of 2005, is now managed independently from the rest of the UK. The East Coast and West Coast Main Railway lines and the Cross Country Line connect the major cities and towns of Scotland with the English network. First ScotRail operate services within Scotland. The Scottish Executive has pursued a policy of building new railway lines, and reopening closed ones.
The Scottish motorways and major trunk roads are managed by the Scottish Executive. The rest of the road network is managed by the Scottish local authorities in each of their areas. The country's busiest motorway is the M8 which runs from the outskirts of Edinburgh to central Glasgow, and on to Renfrewshire.
Regular ferry services operate between the Scottish mainland and island communities. These services are mostly run by Caledonian MacBrayne, but some are operated by local councils. Other ferry routes, served by multiple companies, connect to Northern Ireland, Belgium, Norway, the Faroe Islands and also Iceland.
Before the Mesolithic period, Scotland was repeatedly glaciated. The ice covered the entire land mass of Scotland and so has destroyed any evidence of early human habitation. The earliest Scottish human settlement, dated to around 8500 BCE. was found at Cramond, near Edinburgh.
A well preserved Neolithic farmstead can been seen at Knap of Howar on Orkney. The building, dated to around 3500 BC, is claimed to be the oldest standing house in the country. An example of a complete Neolithic village can be seen nearby at the village of Skara Brae, on the Mainland of Orkney. There are many other Neolithic habitation, burial and ritual sites across Scotland such as: Callanish on Lewis, Maeshowe and The Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, and on the mainland of Scotland — the remains of early crannogs and Neolithic round houses are a common.
After the 8th century BCE, Brythonic Celtic culture and language spread into Scotland. The Iron age brought numerous hill forts, brochs, crannogs and fortified settlements. These constructions had as much to do with a show of status and power as they did with warfare.
The only surviving pre-Roman account of Scotland originated with the Greek Pytheas of Massalia who circumnavigated the British islands (which he called Pretaniké) in 325 BCE, but the record of his visit dates from much later.
The first detailed written histories of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire. In 43 CE, the Romans invaded Britain, and quickly advanced into what is now England and Wales. Gradually, Roman control moved north into the Southern areas of modern Scotland. Gnaeus Julius Agricola became Governor of Britain in 77 CE, and arrived in the summer of 78 CE. He was determined to conquer the whole of the island the Romans called Albion, and in 79 CE, he launched a military campaign into the Highlands of Scotland. Construction of a large fortress was started, but never completed, at Inchtuthil. In 84, Agricola fought the Caledonian tribes at the Battle of Mons Graupius. He won this battle, but he never fully subdued the north of Scotland. The fortifications of the Gask Ridge in Perthshire is an attempt consolidate the Roman presence. However, after Agricola had been recalled to Rome in 85, forts like these were soon all abandoned.
The construction of Hadrian's Wall, between the Solway firth and Newcastle on Tyne, marked the first drawing of a border between what would become Scotland and England. Far from being a remote and war ravaged frontier, the lands immediately to the North of the wall were, for the most part, pro Roman and peaceful. Shortly after the wall's construction, the Emperor Antonine came to power. He advanced the frontier and built, in 142 CE, a second wall between the Firths of Clyde and Forth — known as Antonine's Wall. This wall was manned for only 24 years before the Romans reverted to Hadrian's Wall in 164 CE. Emperor Septimius Severus, in 204, briefly re-occupied the Antonine wall but the frontier retreated again after only a few years. In the late 4th century, there was a general decline of the Roman Empire and its influence on Britain, and by 410 CE, the Romans and their legions were gone.
Pictland became dominated by the Pictish sub-kingdom of Fortriu. The Gaels of Dál Riata settled the region of Argyll. According to legend, the Scottish Saltire flag was adopted by King Óengus II of Fortriu in 832 after a victory over the Northumbrians at Athelstaneford. In 843 Cináed mac Ailpín (King Kenneth Macalpine) from Dál Riata, united the Kingdom of Scotland when he became the King of the Picts and Scots.
In the 10th and 11th centuries, Scotland had comparatively good relations with the Wessex rulers of England. The period was marked by intense internal dynastic disunity, despite this, Scotland had relatively successful expansionary policies. The Kingdom of Strathclyde was handed over to King Malcolm I by King Edmund of England after an Edmund invaded in 945. Around the year 960 and during the reign of King Indulf, the Scots captured the town of Eden which is now Edinburgh. The reign of Malcolm II saw fuller incorporation of these territories. In 1018, Malcolm II defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Carham.
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 sent off ripples that were to have significant consequences for the Kingdom of Scotland. Malcolm III married Margaret who was the sister of Edgar Ætheling — one of the deposed Anglo-Saxon claimants to the English throne. Margaret played a major role in reducing the influence of Celtic Christianity and pulling the Scottish Church back towards the Papacy. Scotland went through something of its own "Norman Conquest" When David I became King. David I had become an important Anglo-Norman lord through marriage and was the Uncle of the Empress Matilda. He was instrumental in introducing feudalism into Scotland. He encouraging an influx of settlers from the Low Countries to the newly-founded burghs which enhanced trade links with Europe and Scandinavia. By the late 13th century, hundreds of Norman and Anglo-Norman families had been granted Scottish lands.
The reign of Alexander III of Scotland was a peaceful and prosperous time for Scotland. However, Alexander died suddenly in an accident at the age of 37. He was succeeded by his granddaughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway. However, she died in 1290 during her voyage from Norway to Scotland. The Scottish throne was left with no direct heir. Disputes arose over the succession. Edward I, King of England, was asked to adjudicate between rival claimants. Edward I used the political divisions and disputes in Scotland to his own benefit, declaring his own right as Overlord of Scotland and demanding homage from whomever he selected to be the Scottish King. John Balliol was crowned King and duly paid homage to Edward who gradually increased his control over Scotland. The Scots resisted the English under the leadership of Sir William Wallace and Andrew de Moray in the first phase of what is known as Scotland's Wars of Independence. This campaign only achieved short term success with Edward again taking control of Scotland and the execution of Wallace in 1305. On March 25, 1306, Robert the Bruce was crowned King Robert I. After a protracted struggle lasting many years, he eventually won a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. However, on Robert I's death, warfare began again resulting in a continuation of the fight for Scottish independence, the second phase of which lasted from 1332 until 1357. The situation in Scotland began to stabilise with the emergence of the Stewart dynasty.
In 1542 James V died leaving only the infant child Mary I of Scotland as heir to the throne. Mary was only six days old when her father died. She was crowned when only 9 months old. The country was ruled by a Regent while Mary grew up. This began a period known as The Rough Wooing. This was also the time of John Knox and the Scottish Reformation. Intermittent wars with England, political unrest and religious change dominated the late 16th Century. On July 24, 1567, Mary was also forced to abdicate the Scottish throne in favour of her one-year-old son James VI.
In 1603, Elizabeth I of England died, and James VI King of Scotland also became King James I of England. With the exception of a short period under The Protectorate, Scotland remained a separate state. There was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688/9 and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic James VII by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from that of England. The Alien Act of 1705 was a law passed by the Parliament of England, in 1705, as a response to the Parliament of Scotland's Act of Security of 1704, which in turn was a response to the English Act of Settlement 1701.
The Alien Act provided that estates held by Scottish nationals in England were to be treated as alien property, making inheritance much less certain. It also had an embargo on the import of Scottish products into England and English colonies - about half of Scotland's trade, covering sectors such as linen, cattle and coal.
The Act contained a provision that it would be suspended if the Scots entered into negotiations on the dispute between the two parliaments. Combined with English financial offers to refund Scottish losses on the Darien scheme, it achieved its aim, leading to the Act of Union 1707 uniting the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain. For the next 150 years Scotland had little direct voice in British government; it produced one, minor Prime Minister, Lord Bute (1762-63). However, its Members of Parliament supported the government of the day on condition that it respected Scotland's interest to their satisfaction.
The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians. Two major Jacobite risings launched from the Highlands of Scotland in 1715 and 1745. The latter uprising was led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, known by his opponents as "The Young Pretender". It climaxed with the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April, 1746.
Precursor to The Industrial Revolution
When Scotland ratified the 1707 Act of Union, it was an economic backwater. Union gave Scotland access to England's global marketplace, triggering an economic and cultural boom transforming a land of only 1.3 million people into a modern society, and opening up a cultural and social revolution. German Sociologist Max Weber credited the Calvinist "Protestant Ethic," involving hard work and a sense of divine predestination, for the entrepreneurial spirit of the Scots. Others credit the educational system, especially its leading universities and medical faculties at Edinburgh and Glasgow. The 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, embodied by such brilliant thinkers as Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith and David Hume, paved the way for the modernization of Scotland and the entire Atlantic world. Hutcheson, the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, championed political liberty and the right of popular rebellion against tyranny. Smith, in his monumental Wealth of Nations (1776), advocated liberty in the sphere of commerce and the global economy. Hume developed philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and thus the U.S. Constitution. In the 19th-century United Kingdom, the Scottish Enlightenment, as popularized by Dugald Stewart, became the basis of classical liberalism. At the University of Glasgow, James Watt perfected the crucial technology of the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine. The "democratic" camp meeting found a home in the Second Great Awakening in the USA.
In time, the union resulted in obvious economic benefits. Scottish ports, especially those on the Clyde, began to import tobacco from America, and, in order to meet the demand of the colonists for manufactured goods, Scottish industries, especially linen-manufacturing, were developed. The British monopoly of the tobacco trade came to an end with the American Revolution, but Scottish industrial growth continued. Scotland strongly supported the Empire in the American Revolutionary wars, and in the wars against Napoleon, laying to rest the fears of dissension.
During the Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of the British Empire. Beginning about 1790 the most important industry in the west of Scotland became textiles, especially the spinning and weaving of cotton, which flourished until the American Civil War in 1861 cut off the supplies of raw cotton; the industry never recovered. However, by that time Scotland had developed heavy industries based on its coal and iron resources. The invention of the hot blast for smelting iron (1828) had revolutionized the Scottish iron industry, and Scotland became a center for engineering, shipbuilding, and locomotive construction. Toward the end of the 19th century steel production largely replaced iron production. Emigrant Andrew Carnegie built the American steel industry, and spent much of his time and philanthropy in Scotland.
Urban vs rural
For all the romanticisation of Scotland and its misty historic mountain roots by romantic novelists led by Walter Scott, Scotland was already one of the most urbanised societies in Europe by 1800. The industrial belt ran across the country from southwest to northeast; by 1900 the four industrialised counties of Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire, and Ayrshire contained 44% of the population. The technological climate of the times, embodied in the innovative dynamism of steam power, had special resonance for Scotland, given the dramatic success of heavy engineering by the 1890s. Liberalism emerged from this background, the free-trade sentiments and forthright individualism of entrepreneurs coalescing with the radical emphasis on education and self-reliance as a means of community betterment. Despite political challenges, especially by the 1900s, these distinctive liberal values remained strong.
Agriculture, too, had been much improved after the union, and standards remained high, though after the middle of the 19th century, when the United Kingdom adopted a free trade policy, food imports had very adverse effects on local agriculture. 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 were notoriously bad. The traditional landed interests was not overwhelmed politically by the fast-growing industrial middle classes for the electoral changes engendered by reform were less far-reaching in Scotland than in England. The landed interests managed to ensure that the political weight of numbers was skewed disproportionately in their favour. The unequal concentration of land ownership remained an emotional subject, of enormous importance to the vexed question of the Highland economy, and eventually became a cornerstone of liberal radicalism.
The disadvantage of concentration on heavy industry became apparent after World War I, for other countries were themselves being industrialized and were no longer markets for Scottish products. Within the United Kingdom itself there was also more centralization, and industry tended to drift to the south, leaving Scotland on a neglected fringe. The entire period between the world wars was one of economic depression, of which the world-wide Great Depression of 1929-1939 was the most acute phase. The economy revived with munitions production during World War II.
After 1945, however, the older heavy industries continued to decline, with only 13% employed in manufacturing in the 21st century. The government has given financial encouragement to many new industries, ranging from atomic power and petrochemical production to light engineering. The economy has thus become more diversified and therefore stabler. The profound economic and social restructuring involves numerous contradictions, with distinct winners and losers. Women and ethnic minorities have generally benefited from the shift to a service-based one. Scotland increasingly has a "knowledge economy" in which certificates and diplomas provide entry into new jobs in areas such as computing, health and the public sector. The higher educational levels achieved by women and ethnic minorities are allowing them to displace men in the job market. The losers are men in formerly skilled occupations, such as shipbuilding, heavy engineering and coalmining, which have collapsed. One result is more individual and less community-based attitude to society. The passing of the skilled man has also eroded the socio-political commitment to the Labour idea of an egalitarian society. Sociologists conclude that Scots, "imagine society, no longer perhaps as a collectivity, but now rather as a web of opportunity and choice. In this new world of opportunity, where "class identity" is "now more a matter of choice than fate", "traditional Labour is dead." One in five of the people live in "real poverty", including one in three children. Poverty is especially severe in old mining towns and a zone from Fife, and East Lothian in the east, to North and East Ayrshire in the west. Although women have gained new jobs while men lost old jobs, managerial positions still tend to be in the hands of men.
For half a century after 1832 Scotland was predominantly, and often overwhelmingly, Whig or Liberal. However there were few Scots in the Cabinet and they were mainly peers. The Queen's residence in the Highlands helped make Scottishness fashionable and there was no protest when Lord Aberdeen (1784-1860) formed a coalition government in 1852. Beginning in the middle of the 19th century the Scottish people provided the UK with a stream of important prime ministers, notably William E. Gladstone (1809-98),. When Lord Salisbury became prime minister in 1885 he responded to calls for more attention to be paid to Scottish issues by reviving the post of Secretary of State for Scotland, which had been in abeyance since 1746. He appointed the 5th Duke of Richmond, a wealthy landowner who was both Chancellor of Aberdeen University and Lord Lieutenant of Banff. Other Scots were Archibald, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), Arthur Balfour (1848-1930), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908), Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923) and Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) and Alec Douglas-Home (1903-95). The prominence of Scots in the leadership of the Edwardian Liberal and Conservative parties was more than matched in the leadership of the early Labour Party. Scottish working-class Liberals were particularly attracted to the idea of independent Labour representation because they found it hard to become parliamentary candidates. The first two chairmen of the Independent Labour Party, established in 1893, were Scots: Keir Hardie (1856-1915) and John Glasier (1859-1920). Some Scottish connection also characterized Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) (Scots on his father's side) and Tony Blair (1953- ), who grew up in Scotland. From 1945 the Labour Party secured around half or more of the Scottish parliamentary seats, whereas the Tory share of the Scottish representation declined steadily from 1959 until it virtually ended in 1997. The tension between devolution, with more control of local affairs, and playing a central role in Westminister, continues into the 21st century. In 2007 Gordon Brown (1951- ), with deep roots in the country, became Prime Minister.
for a much longer guide see the Bibliography tab at top of this page.
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