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Scotland (Scots)
Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
Motto: "In My Defens God Me Defend" (Scots)[a]
"In my defence God me defend"
Anthem: Various[b]
Location of  Scotland  (dark green) – on the European continent  (green & dark grey) – in the United Kingdom  (green)
Location of  Scotland  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the United Kingdom  (green)

55°57′11″N 3°11′20″W / 55.95306°N 3.18889°W / 55.95306; -3.18889
Largest cityGlasgow
Official languages[c]
Ethnic groups
List of ethnicities
List of religions
GovernmentDevolved parliamentary legislature within a constitutional monarchy[e]
• Monarch
Charles III
John Swinney
Shona Robison
Parliament of the United Kingdom
• Secretary of StateAlister Jack
• House of Commons59 MPs (of 650)
LegislatureScottish Parliament
9th century (traditionally 843)
17 March 1328
3 October 1357[10]
1 May 1707
19 November 1998
• Land
77,933 km2 (30,090 sq mi)[11]
• Water (%)
• 2019 estimate
Increase 5,463,300
• 2011 census
• Density
67.5/km2 (174.8/sq mi)
GVA2017 estimate
 • Total£138 billion[13]
 • Per capita£25,500[13]
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
£166.8 billion[14]
• Per capita
HDI (2018)0.913[16]
very high · 4th
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP£)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44
ISO 3166 codeGB-SCT
Internet TLD.scot [f]
  1. ^ Often shown abbreviated as "In Defens".
  2. ^ See National anthem of Scotland.
  3. ^ Scotland has no official language. English is the main language by custom and usage, with Scots, Scottish Gaelic and British Sign Language also recognised as the main linguistic groups in Scotland, according to the Scottish Government.[17] Both Scots and Scottish Gaelic are officially recognised as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[18] Under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, Bòrd na Gàidhlig is tasked with securing Gaelic as an official language of Scotland.[19] British Sign Language is officially recognised as language under the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015.[20]
  4. ^ Historically, the use of "Scotch" as an adjective comparable to "Scottish" or "Scots" was commonplace. Modern use of the term describes products of Scotland (usually food or drink-related).
  5. ^ The head of state of the United Kingdom is the monarch (currently King Charles III, since 2022). Scotland has limited self-government within the UK as well as representation in the UK Parliament. Certain executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.
  6. ^ .scot is not a ccTLD, but a GeoTLD, open to use by all people in Scotland and related to Scotland. .uk as part of the United Kingdom is also used. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.
Map of Scotland

Scotland (Scots: Scotland, Scottish Gaelic: Alba [ˈal̪ˠapə] (audio speaker iconlisten)) is one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The main part of it is the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Many other islands in the British Isles are also part of Scotland. To the south of Scotland is England. The North Sea is to the east. The Atlantic Ocean is to the west. The Irish Sea is to the south-west.

The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh on the east coast. The biggest city is Glasgow on the west coast. The other cities in Scotland are Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth, Stirling and Dunfermline. About five million people live in Scotland. Most of the population lives in the Central Belt, an area between the Scottish Highlands and the Scottish Lowlands.

Unlike most of Great Britain, most of Scotland was not part of the Roman Empire (only the southern half of Scotland – then named Caledonia – was under Roman control for a century) and did not become part of Anglo-Saxon England. The Kingdom of Scotland started in the 9th century AD. In 1603, James VI of Scotland inherited the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland. In 1707, the parliament of Scotland joined with the parliament of England to become the Parliament of Great Britain. This formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain. This kingdom joined with the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801 to make the modern United Kingdom.

History[change | change source]

Edinburgh Castle stands on an extinct volcano
Stirling Bridge going across the River Forth
Stirling Castle on an extinct volcano

The history of Scotland begins when humans first began to live in Scotland after the end of the last ice age.[21][22] Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilization that existed in the country, many fossils remain, but no written records were left behind. These people did not have writing.

St Kilda, Heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae are all World Heritage Sites, as are the Antonine Wall and New Lanark on the mainland.

Because of where Scotland is in the world, it depends on trade by sea. The nation traded with the Baltic countries and with France and Europe. The sea was very important for trade reasons. Following the Acts of Union and Industrial Revolution, Scotland grew to be one of the largest commercial, intellectual and industrial states in Europe.

Caledonians, Picts, and Romans[change | change source]

The written history of Scotland begins when the Roman Empire came to the British Isles. The Romans gave Great Britain its name in Latin: Britannia or Britannia Maior, 'Great Britain'. The Romans overcame and controlled what is now England, Wales, and southern Scotland. To the north of the River Forth was Caledonia, land not fully owned by the Romans[23]).

The Romans had military camps and forts in much of Scotland. In Classical Antiquity, the Romans named the people in Caledonia in Caledonii, 'Caledonians'. During Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the people of Caledonia were the Picts. The Roman army left Great Britain in the 5th century, and by the time Roman military had fought many battles with the Picts.

Scoti, Picts, and Saxons[change | change source]

Scots soldier playing bagpipe

In the Early Middle Ages, the Picts lived in a part of the land with the name Pictland. The Scoti came from Ireland and started the kingdom of Dál Riata. Parts of south-western Scotland and northern Ireland were part of Dál Riata. People there spoke old Goidelic languages. The Saxons came from Continental Europe. In the British Isles they have the name Anglo-Saxons. South-eastern Scotland became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Their language was Old English.

In Pictland, the Picts started the Kingdom of Alba in the 9th-century. The kingdom began in the land between the River Spey and the River Forth. The Pictish language went extinct, and people in the 10th-century kingdom of Alba spoke the Goidelic language, Scots Gaelic. In time, the kingdom grew. The lands of Moray and Angus became part of the kingdom. The northern parts of Northumbria, south of the River Forth, became part of the kingdom.

People began to build large towns in the 10th century.

Norse[change | change source]

Most of the Scottish islands were ruled by the Norse (and then by Norwegians and Danes) for over four hundred years. The Kingdom of the Isles was a Norse kingdom in the western, coastal parts of Scotland. They spoke the Old Norse language.

The Norse lands include the Hebrides to the west and Orkney and Shetland to the north. The Isle of Man was also a part of the Kingdom of the Isles. The islands still have a culture of their own.

Wars of Independence[change | change source]

The Wars of Scottish Independence were many military campaigns fought between Scotland and England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

The First War (1296–1328) began with the Edward I of England's invasion of Scotland in 1296, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328. The Second War (1332–1357) began with the English-supported invasion of Scotland by Edward Balliol and the 'Disinherited' in 1332, and ended around 1357 with the signing of the Treaty of Berwick.

The wars were part of a great national crisis for Scotland and the period became one of the most important moments in the nation's history. At the end of both wars, Scotland was an independent kingdom. The wars were also important for other reasons, such as the invention of the longbow as an important weapon in medieval warfare.

A series of deaths in the line of succession in the 1280s, followed by King Alexander III's death in 1286 left the Scottish crown in crisis. His granddaughter, Margaret, the "Maid of Norway", a four-year-old girl, was the heir.

Edward I of England, as Margaret's great-uncle, suggested that his son (also a child) and Margaret should marry, stabilising the Scottish line of succession. In 1290 Margaret's guardians agreed to this, but Margaret herself died in Orkney on her voyage from Norway to Scotland before she was made Queen, or her wedding could take place.

Because there was no clear heir to the throne anymore, the Scottish people decided to ask Edward I of England to choose their king. The strongest candidate was called Robert Bruce. Robert Bruce had castles all around the country, and had a private army. But Edward wanted to invade Scotland, so he chose the weaker candidate, who was John Balliol. He had the strongest claim to the throne, and became king on 30 November 1292. Robert Bruce decided to accept this decision (his grandson and namesake later took the throne as Robert I).

Over the next few years, Edward I kept trying to undermine both the authority of King John and the independence of Scotland. In 1295, John, on the recommendation of his chief councillors, entered into an alliance with France. This was the beginning of the Auld Alliance.

In 1296, Edward invaded Scotland. He removed King John from power, and put him in jail. The following year William Wallace and Andrew de Moray raised an army from the southern and northern parts of the country to fight the English. Under their joint leadership, an English army was defeated at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. For a short time Wallace ruled Scotland in the name of John Balliol as Guardian of the realm.

Edward came north in person and defeated Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Wallace escaped but resigned as Guardian of Scotland. John Comyn and Robert the Bruce were put in his place. In 1305 Wallace was captured by the English, who executed him for treason. Wallace claimed he did not commit treason as he was not loyal to England.

Robert Bruce

In February 1306 Robert Bruce murdered John Comyn, a leading rival, in a church. Bruce went on to take the crown, but Edward's army overran the country yet again after defeating Bruce's small army at the Battle of Methven. Despite the excommunication of Bruce and his followers by Pope Clement V, his support slowly strengthened; and by 1314, with the help of leading nobles such as Sir James Douglas and the Earl of Moray, only the castles at Bothwell and Stirling were still under English control.

Edward I died in Carlisle in 1307. His heir, Edward II, moved an army north to break the siege of Stirling Castle and again take control. Robert defeated that army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, securing temporary independence. In 1320, a letter to the Pope from the nobles of Scotland (the Declaration of Arbroath) went part of the way towards convincing Pope John XXII to overturn the earlier excommunication and cancel the various acts of submission by Scottish kings to English ones so that Scotland's independence could be recognised by other European countries.

In 1326, the first full Parliament of Scotland met. The parliament was made from an earlier council of nobility and clergy around 1235, but in 1326 representatives of the burghs—the burgh commissioners—joined them to form the Three Estates.

In 1328, Edward III signed the Treaty of Northampton which declared Scottish independence under the rule of Robert the Bruce. Four years after Robert's death in 1329, England invaded Scotland yet again, looking to put the "Rightful King"—Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol—to the Scottish throne, starting the Second War of Independence. In the face of tough Scottish resistance, led by Sir Andrew Murray, attempts to secure Balliol on the throne failed. Edward III lost interest in Balliol after the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War with France. In 1341 David II, King Robert's son and heir, was able to return from temporary exile in France. Balliol finally resigned his empty claim to the throne to Edward in 1356, before retiring to Yorkshire, where he died in 1364.

Union of the Crowns[change | change source]

In 1603, Elizabeth I, queen of England and of Ireland, died. The king of Scotland was the queen's heir apparent, and James VI of Scotland (son of Mary, Queen of Scots) became king of England and king of Ireland. James VI and I (from Scotland's House of Stuart) went to England to control the government, and none of Scotland's kings came to Scotland for more than one hundred years.

United Kingdom[change | change source]

In 1707, Scotland and England were joined in the Act of Union to make one big Kingdom, the Kingdom of Great Britain. When Ireland joined in 1801, the United Kingdom was created. Scotland was an important part of the colonialism and imperialism of the British Empire. Scots colonists emigrated throughout the empire, and a large diaspora of Scots lives throughout the world as a result. The Scottish Enlightenment was an important part of the Age of Enlightenment. Philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith led the Scottish Enlightenment.

Soldiers fought some of the wars caused by Jacobitism in Scotland. The Jacobites wanted the Roman Catholic House of Stuart, and not the Protestant House of Hanover to be kings of Britain and of Ireland. The last land battle in Great Britain was the Battle of Culloden in 1745. At that time the government's British Army stopped the Catholic rebellion led by Charles Edward Stuart. Scots-speakers and English-speakers moved many Gaelic speakers off lands in the Scottish Highlands, and many emigrated to the British Empire and the United States. In the 19th century, George IV visited Scotland. After that, Scotland and Scottish culture became more popular. Tourism to Scotland started in the 19th century.

HMS Vanguard, a nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy, at His Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, Faslane

In a referendum in 1997, a majority of voters in Scotland chose to have political devolution. The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, and the office of first minister of Scotland was set up in 1999.

One first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, led the Scottish National Party's Scottish Government from 2007. in 2014, the Scottish independence referendum ended in a majority (55%) voting against independence from the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon became first minister on 20 November 2014.

Geography[change | change source]

The mainland of Scotland makes up ​13 of the size of the Great Britain, and is to the northwest of mainland Europe.

The size of the land of Scotland is 78,772km² (30,414 sq mi).[24] Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 mi) across. The Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the North Sea is to the east. The island of Ireland is only 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the southern part of Kintyre,[25] Norway is 305 kilometres (190 mi) to the east and the Faroe Islands are 270 kilometres (168 mi) to the north. Scotland's land also includes several islands, including the Inner and Outer Hebrides off the west coast and the archipelagoes of Orkney and Shetland to the north of the mainland.

Compared to the other areas of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, Scotland is sparsely populated, most especially the north-western half of it. The main geographical feature that dictates this is the Highland Boundary Fault which roughly splits the country in half from the southwest to the northeast.

To the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault are the more mountainous Scottish Highlands and islands. and this half of the country contains less than 5% of the total population. To the south and east of the Highland Boundary Fault is the Scottish Lowlands, which contain the vast majority (about 75%) of the Scottish population, and three of the four biggest cities (Glasgow which is 1st, Edinburgh which is 2nd, and Dundee which is 4th). Below the lowlands are the Southern Uplands which are hilly, but not as hilly at the Highlands. They are less densely populated than the lowlands, but still a lot more dense than the highlands and islands.

The "Central Belt" is a rectangle of land 88 kilometres (55 miles) from West to East and 48 kilometres (30 miles) North to South. About half of the population of Scotland lives within about 4,530 square kilometres (or 1,750 square miles), which is a little more than 2% of the total land area of Scotland. This is the area between Scotland’s two largest cities - Glasgow, at the Central Belt’s Western end, and Edinburgh, at the Central Belt’s Eastern end. This area is geographically bound by two bays of water – the Firth of Clyde to the West and the Firth of Forth to the East. It is the most fertile Earth in Scotland, which is why it is so population-dense, compared to the rest of the country.

The tallest mountain in Scotland is Ben Nevis, which is also the tallest mountain in the British Isles.[26]

Culture[change | change source]

Throughout its history Scotland has had its own legal system (Scots law), church (the Church of Scotland), schools, and culture.[27] Since 1999, Scotland has had its own parliament, the Scottish Parliament. It was devolved from the British parliament. The Scottish people have representation in both parliaments. The Scottish Government and the British Government both govern Scotland. On 18 September 2014, a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom took place. A majority (55%) voted to stay in the United Kingdom.[28][29]

National symbols[change | change source]

The Flag of Scotland is blue with a white diagonal cross (a saltire). This is the cross of Saint Andrew, who is the patron saint of Scotland. Other symbols used for Scotland are the thistle and the unicorn. An image of a red lion "rampant" (standing on its back legs) on a gold background with a red border is the traditional coat of arms of the Scots monarchy.

Language[change | change source]

The official languages of Scotland are English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. English is spoken by most people in Scotland, while only a small number, mostly in the Western Isles, speaks Scottish Gaelic.[30] Scottish Gaelic began declining in the late Middle Ages when Scottish kings and nobles preferred English.

Sports[change | change source]

Football[change | change source]

Both sets of fans at an Old Firm match at Celtic Park.

Football is the most popular sport in Scotland. Three of the big cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, have two or three big football teams, and most cities have at least one team. The two most famous teams in Scotland are known as the "Old Firm". These are Celtic and Rangers. These two Glasgow clubs have a lot of history, and are fierce rivals, often causing fights, riots and even murders between the fans. Rangers are world record holders, having won the most amount of league titles of any football team, currently 55.

Scotland were the winners of the Homeless World Cup in 2007 and are the current champions after they won in August 2011. They defeated Mexico 4–3 in Paris, France.[31]

Other football clubs[change | change source]

The other main clubs in Scotland are Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United. These teams are in the Premier League right now, and usually take the most places in the top six of the league.

Some other Scottish clubs include Gretna, who won three titles in a row, moving from the Third Division, to the SPL in only three seasons. Gretna ran out of money, and they were shut down. Also, Raith Rovers, who famously played UEFA Cup Winners, Bayern München. Raith Rovers were knocked out by Bayern München, but managed to lead 1-0 at half time. Queen of the south also reached the Europa league, after reaching the 2008 Scottish cup final. they lost 3 -2 to Rangers.

Scottish Premier League[change | change source]

The top division of Scottish Football is called the "Scottish Premier League" (or SPL), and is currently sponsored by the Clydesdale Bank, a large Scottish Bank. In 2013, its name was changed to "Scottish Premiership".

Rugby[change | change source]

In 1925, 1984 and 1990, Scotland were winners of the Five Nations' Gran Slam, having beaten all four other teams - England, Wales, Ireland and France.

Golf[change | change source]

Golf is a popular sport in Scotland. It is unique, as Scotland is the birthplace of golf. That is certain, but the details are not known for sure. There are many public golf courses where people can play for small fees. Elsewhere in the world, golf is a game for the wealthy.

Sandy Lyle was the first Scottish golfer to win a major title in modern times. Colin Montgomery is one of the best players never to have won a major championship: He finished second in major events five times.

Motorsports[change | change source]

Scotland is also involved with motorsports. Former F1 driver David Coulthard is a thirteen time Grand Prix winner. Jackie Stewart is a 3-time F1 World Champion and regarded as one of the best drivers ever. Jim Clark was a 2-time F1 World Champion and regarded as one of the best ever with Fangio, Schumacher and Senna. Colin McRae was also the 1995 World Rally Champion.

Tennis[change | change source]

Andy Murray, originally from Scotland, is currently the United Kingdom's best tennis player, having won singles titles at the US Open, and Wimbledon, where his 2013 win ended a 77-year wait for a British man to win the competition. He also won Olympic Gold in the men's singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. His brother, Jamie Murray, is a successful doubles player.

Elephant Polo[change | change source]

Scotland were the world champions of the unusual sport of Elephant Polo in 2004. Elephant Polo, registered as an Olympic sport with the Nepal Olympic Committee, was invented by Scotsman Nathan Mochan in 1983.[32]

Traditional music[change | change source]

Traditional Scottish musical instruments include: the bagpipe, accordion, the fiddle, the harp and tin whistle.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "St Andrew—Quick Facts". Scotland. org—The Official Online Gateway. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  2. "St Andrew". Catholic Online. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  3. "St Margaret of Scotland". Catholic Online. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  4. "Patron saints". Catholic Online. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  5. "St Columba". Catholic Online. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  7. Other religion"Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census - gov.scot". www.gov.scot. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  8. Scotland's Census (27 March 2011). "Scotland's Census 2011 – National Records of Scotland" (PDF). Scotland's Census. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  9. "2011 Census: Key Results from Releases 2A to 2D" (PDF).
  10. "The Treaty of Berwick was signed - On this day in Scottish history". History Scotland. 3 October 2020.
  11. Region and Country Profiles, Key Statistics and Profiles, October 2013, ONS. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  12. "Population estimates by sex, age and administrative area, Scotland, 2011 and 2012". National Records of Scotland. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Office for National Statistics. "Regional gross value added (income approach), UK: 1997 to 2017, December 2015". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  14. "Scottish Economic Statistics January 2021". www.scottish-enterprise.com. Archived from the original on 2019-11-14. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  15. McGeoch, Adam. "A Guide to Scottish GDP". Fraser of Allander Institute.
  16. "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  17. "Languages - gov.scot". www.gov.scot.
  18. "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages". Scottish Government. Retrieved 23 October 2011.[dead link]
  19. Macleod, Angus "Gaelic given official status" (22 April 2005) The Times. London. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  20. "Scotland becomes first part of UK to recognise signing for deaf as official language". Herald Scotland. 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  21. The earliest known evidence is a flint arrowhead from Islay. See Moffat, Alistair (2005) Before Scotland: the story of Scotland before history. London. Thames & Hudson, page 42.
  22. Sites at Cramond dated to 8500 BC and near Kinloch, Rùm from 7700 BC provide the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland. See "The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map: Rubbish dump reveals time-capsule of Scotland's earliest settlements" megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2008 and Edwards, Kevin J. and Whittington, Graeme "Vegetation Change" in Edwards, Kevin J. & Ralston, Ian B.M. (Eds) (2003) Scotland After the Ice Age: Environment, Archaeology and History, 8000 BC–AD 1000. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press. Page 70.
  23. Romans in Caledonia
  24. Whitaker's Almanack (1991) London. J. Whitaker and Sons.
  25. North Channel, Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  26. Visit Fort William - About Ben Nevis Accessed 7/11/11
  27. Devine, T. M. (1999), The Scottish Nation 1700–2000, P.288–289, ISBN 0-14-023004-1 "created a new and powerful local state run by the Scottish bourgeoisie and reflecting their political and religious values. It was this local state, rather than a distant and usually indifferent Westminster authority, that in effect routinely governed Scotland"
  28. "In maps: How close was the Scottish referendum vote?". BBC News. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  29. "Scotland: Independence Referendum Date Set". BSkyB. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  30. "Scotland: Scottish Gaelic". www.geo.ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  31. BBC News "Scotland team in Homeless World Cup victory" Retrieved 5 September 2011
  32. - BBC News - Elephant polo stars just champion

Other websites[change | change source]