51 Fascinating Facts about Scotland

Scotland is a country in the United Kingdom, in Northwest Europe. Covering an area of 77,933 square kilometres, its mainland is part of the island of Great Britain, and it has 290 other islands. It has a population of about 5.4 million, most of whom live in its cities. Its capital is Edinburgh, but its largest city is Glasgow. Scotland's currency is the Pound Sterling in common with the rest of the UK, and its economy is very varied throughout the country. Its official language is English, and Christianity in various forms is its predominant religion. The Scottish flag is a white saltire on a royal blue background.

Scotland Facts

1
Scotland has a land border with England and is otherwise surrounded by sea. The North Sea lies to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north west, and the North Channel separates it from the island of Ireland. The Irish Sea lies off its south western coastline
2
Although English is Scotland's official language, Scots Gaelic and Lowland Scots, or Scots English, are also spoken. Many road signs and some train stations use English and Scots Gaelic.
3
Robert Burns is widely recognized Scotland's national poet. He wrote in Scots English, also known as Scots.
4
Scotland uses pound sterling, or British pound, in common with the rest of the UK. The Bank of England is the UK's national bank, but Scotland has three other banks which print their versions of the currency. They are the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Clydesdale Bank. All of these versions of the currency are legal tender anywhere within the UK.
5
The land border between Scotland and England has been in its current form since 1482. In that year, Berwick upon Tweed was ceded by Scotland to the English. The town now lies in Northumberland, but the district of Berwickshire is part of Scotland.
6
The town's association football team, Berwick Rangers, plays in the Scottish League.
7
Scotland's national dish is Haggis. This is a savoury dish of minced sheep pluck (heart, liver and lungs) in a stock, with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. It is traditionally cooked and served in the sheep stomach lining. Haggis is illegal in the USA as it contains lung.
8
Donald Trump, 45th President of the USA, is son of a Scotswoman. His mother, Mary MacLeod, was from the Scottish island of Lewis.
9
Bagpipes are recognized as a particularly Scottish musical instrument. Although bagpipes are traditional in many parts of Europe, the one most associated with Scotland is the Great Highland Bagpipe. This was taken across the British Empire by Highland Scottish regiments of the British armed forces.
10
Scotland's geography is characterized by its variation, and falls mainly into Lowlands, Highlands and Islands. The country lies on an ancient geological feature known as the Great Glen Fault. The Great Glen runs north east to south west, forming the spine of the Scottish Highlands.
11
Tartan, or plaid, is a recognisably Scottish material and design of cloth. Traditionally woven from wool, dyes are used to produce a wide range of colours, which are woven into distinct patterns to identify the Clan of the wearer.
12
The Clan is a traditional social unit which was prevalent in Scotland until the early modern period, especially in the Scottish Highlands. Today, a clan would be called an extended family; it consisted of many generations of closely and loosely related people, who lived in a specific place, taking the place name as part of the Clan name.
13
Scotland is famous for its Lochs. The name is Gaelic in origin and means lake or inlet. In Ireland, the word is spelled Lough. The biggest Loch in Scotland is Loch Ness, which has a water volume of 7.45 cubic kilometres
14
In September 2014, residents of Scotland took part in a referendum on whether they wanted the country to cede from the United Kingdom. The result was 44.7% in favour, 55.3% against.
15
Since 1999, Scotland has had its own Parliament. This has control over some aspects of government policy, while others are still held by the UK Government in Westminster.
16
Someone elected to the Scottish Parliament is called an MSP. MSPs can also be elected as Members of the UK's Parliament (MPs).
17
One of the founding members of the Bank of England in 1694, William Paterson, was Scottish.
18
The Ceilidh is a popular tradition in Scotland and Ireland. It is a social gathering, which over time has also become associated with traditional folk music, singing and dancing. Ceilidh nights are often held in Scottish pubs and hotels, and anywhere in the world with Scottish or Irish influences.
19
Scottish folk dance is characterised by the Reel. This is a fast dance, performed to Reel Music, a simple, traditional rhythm accompanied by clapping. The Reel is widely used in American folk dancing.
20
Scotland's islands are generally described by four main groups. These are Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Shetland and Orkney lie off the north eastern tip of the Scottish mainland, and both Hebridean groups are off the west coast, in the Atlantic Ocean.
21
Orkney and Shetland have been part of Scotland since 1472. Before that, they were ruled by Norway, having been colonised by Viking settlers since the 9th Century.
22
Many Shetlanders feel more affinity for Norway than Scotland or the UK. London is 600 miles from Lerwick, the Islands' capital; Edinburgh is 301 miles, Bergen in Norway is 223 miles.
23
Scotland is world famous for its whisky. Known as Scotch Whisky, or just Scotch, it is a protected product and must be made to certain specifications to be known as Scotch Whisky.
24
The name whisky or whiskey derives from Gaelic for water, but later translations define it as meaning “water of life.”
25
Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, has a population of approximately 596,000. This is more than a tenth of the whole population of the country. Glasgow is also the fourth largest city in the UK.
26
Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the British Isles. Its peak is 1,345 metres above sea level.
27
Ben Nevis is one of a group of mountains knows as Munros. These are Scottish hills and mountains over 3,000 feet, or 914.4 metres, high. The name comes from Sir Hugh Munro, a Scottish mountaineer.
28
The monarchies of Scotland and England merged in 1603, when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England.
29
England and Scotland were separate countries until 1707, when the Acts of Union in both countries led to the formation of the first government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
30
The Scotland national association football team played its first match against England in 1872. It was a goalless draw. International friendlies between the two teams were abandoned in 1989 after repeated crowd trouble.
31
Loch Ness is the purported home to a legendary, mythical creature called the Loch Ness Monster. Also known as Nessie, various attempts have been made to prove and disprove its existence. The depth of the Loch makes this problematic, meaning that opinion is still divided. What is certain is that tourists come from all over the world hoping to see it, giving a sizeable boost to the local economy.
32
The Patron Saint of Scotland is Saint Andrew. The national flag features a saltire, or diagonal cross, which alludes to the manner of Andrew's crucifixion. One of Jesus of Nazareth's Apostles, his remains were said to be taken from Constantinople to the Scottish town which became St. Andrews.
33
St. Andrews is the home of Scotland's oldest university, which was founded in 1413 by Augustinian monks.
34
St. Andrews is also known as the ‘Home of Golf’. The game has been played there since the 15th century and is home to the Royal Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. The club voted to permit women members for the first time in 2014, 260 years after its founding.
35
Balmoral Castle is one of the official residences of the UK royal family since 1852. It is in the Scottish district of Aberdeenshire, and was originally bought by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
36
The North Sea off Scotland has the European Union's biggest oil resources. This was discovered in 1966, and from 1976 completely transformed the Scottish economy. The city of Aberdeen in particular experienced a massive economic boost.
37
Glasgow's shipbuilding industry was world famous. At its peak in the 1900s, the city manufactured one fifth of the world's ships.
38
Highland Scots are sometimes known by Lowlanders as Teuchters. This is a disparaging term, originally aimed at Gaelic speakers, and means uncouth.
39
Between the 13th and 17th Centuries, before, during and after the border between Scotland and England was agreed, upland families conducted raids across the territory. Known as the Border Reivers, they belonged to a number of families with both Scottish and English branches. They made the border ungovernable and were eventually broken up and dispersed.
40
One of the local specialities of Scottish cuisine is the Arbroath Smokie. Like Scotch Whisky, this is a protected product which must conform to agreed standards. The smokie is a haddock which is salted, tied in a pair to dry, and cooked by smoking in a lid covered barrel.
41
Arbroath is also famous for political reasons. In 1320, victorious followers of Robert the Bruce wrote a submission to Pope John XXII, outlining reasons why Scotland should remain independent. Known as the Declaration of Arbroath, it is widely acknowledged as the most eloquent declaration of independence ever written.
42
The Scottish Kilt is a world famous type of national dress. Made from tartan, its modern form is a reduction from its original Highland design, which also folded to cover the upper body.
43
Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, hosts the largest performing arts festival in the world. The annual Edinburgh International Festival has a third of a million visitors every year.
44
Hogmanay is the Scottish annual celebration of the turn of the year. The word is Scots for last day. Edinburgh hosts an annual Hogmanay celebration which attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the city centre.
45
Scotland's national day is St. Andrew's Day, on the 30th November. Scots also celebrate Burns Night on the 25th January. Scotland also has a New Year Holiday on 2nd January, unlike other parts of the UK.
46
The Church of Scotland is a Christian denomination in its own right. It has celebrants throughout the world. In Scotland, it is known as the Kirk.
47
Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time were incorporated in the UK due to the shortness of the days in Northern Scotland and its islands in midwinter. There are yearly calls from other parts of the UK to abolish these time changes.
48
Mary Queen of Scots, a famous historical figure, was born and lived all of her early life in France. English was one of her learned languages, but French was her native tongue.
49
Scotland is home to the only golden eagles in the British Isles. There are around 500 breeding pairs, all in the Scottish Highlands.
50
Scotland's national animal is the unicorn.
51
Scotland contains more than 790 islands

Scotland has a very long and proud history as an independent nation, and traditions which have persisted despite conquest and amalgamation within the United Kingdom. It has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and is highly sought after as a part of the UK which offers real peace and a connection with nature. It is also home to friendly, hospitable people who welcome all comers.

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