Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Edinburgh was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, was once one of the world's leading industrial cities and now lies at the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation, which dominates the Scottish Lowlands. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.
The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent sovereign state prior to 1st May 1707, upon which date she entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain. This union resulted from the Treaty of Union agreed in 1706 and enacted by the twin Acts of Union passed by the Parliaments of both countries, despite widespread protest across Scotland. Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and Scotland still constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and in private law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. Although Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state, the constitutional future of Scotland continues to give rise to debate.
Scotland is from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels. The Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Gaels) was initially used to refer to Ireland. By the 11th century at the latest, Scotia was being used to refer to (Gaelic-speaking) Scotland north of the river Forth, alongside Albania or Albany, both derived from the Gaelic Alba. The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages.
Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land-mass of modern Scotland, have destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period. It is believed that the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation. Groups of settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, and the first villages around 6,000 years ago. The well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the Mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation, burial and ritual sites are particularly common and well-preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone.
The Kingdom of the Picts (based in Fortriu by the 6th century) was the state which eventually became known as "Alba" or "Scotland". The development of "Pictland", according to the historical model developed by Peter Heather, was a natural response to Roman imperialism. Another view places emphasis on the Battle of Dunnichen, and the reign of Bridei m. Beli (671693), with another period of consolidation in the reign of Óengus mac Fergusa (732761). The Kingdom of the Picts as it was in the early 8th century, when Bede was writing, was largely the same as the kingdom of the Scots in the reign of Alexander (11071124). However, by the tenth century, the Pictish kingdom was dominated by what we can recognise as Gaelic culture, and had developed an Irish conquest myth around the ancestor of the contemporary royal dynasty, Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin).
From a base of territory in eastern Scotland north of the River Forth and south of the River Oykel, the kingdom acquired control of the lands lying to the north and south. By the 12th century, the kings of Alba had added to their territories the English-speaking land in the south-east and attained overlordship of Gaelic-speaking Galloway and Norse-speaking Caithness; by the end of the 13th century, the kingdom had assumed approximately its modern borders. However, processes of cultural and economic change beginning in the 12th century ensured Scotland looked very different in the later Middle Ages. The stimulus for this was the reign of King David I and the Davidian Revolution. Feudalism, government reorganisation and the first legally defined towns (called burghs) began in this period. These institutions and the immigration of French and Anglo-French knights and churchmen facilitated a process of cultural osmosis, whereby the culture and language of the low-lying and coastal parts of the kingdom's original territory in the east became, like the newly acquired south-east, English-speaking, while the rest of the country retained the Gaelic language, apart from the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, which remained under Norse rule until 1468. The Wallace Monument commemorates William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish hero.
The death of Alexander III in March 1286, followed by the death of his granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway, broke the succession line of Scotland's kings. This led to the intervention of Edward I of England, who manipulated this period of confusion to have himself recognised as feudal overlord of Scotland. Edward organised a process to identify the person with the best claim to the vacant crown, which became known as the Great Cause, and this resulted in the enthronement of John Balliol as king. The Scots were resentful of Edward's meddling in their affairs and this relationship quickly broke down. War ensued and King John was deposed by his overlord, who took personal control of Scotland. Andrew Moray and William Wallace initially emerged as the principal leaders of the resistance to English rule in what became known as the Wars of Scottish Independence. The nature of the struggle changed dramatically when Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, became king (as Robert I) in 1307. Robert I battled to win Scottish Independence as King for over 20 years, beginning by winning Scotland back from the English invaders piece by piece. Victory at The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 proved that the Scots had won their kingdom, but it took 14 more years and the production of the world's first documented declaration of independence the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 to finally win legal recognition by the English. But war with England was to continue for several decades after the death of Bruce, and a civil war between the Bruce dynasty and their long-term Comyn-Balliol rivals, the flashpoint of which could be traced to the slaying in a Dumfries church of John 'the Red' Comyn of Badenoch by Robert I and his supporters, lasted until the middle of the 14th century. Although the Bruce dynasty was successful, David II's lack of an heir allowed his nephew Robert II to come to the throne and establish the Stewart Dynasty. The Stewarts ruled Scotland for the remainder of the Middle Ages. The country they ruled experienced greater prosperity from the end of the 14th century through the Scottish Renaissance to the Reformation. This was despite continual warfare with England, the increasing division between Highlands and Lowlands, and a large number of royal minorities.
In 1603, James VI King of Scots inherited the throne of the Kingdom of England, and became King James I of England, and left Edinburgh for London. With the exception of a short period under the Protectorate, Scotland remained a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government. After the Glorious Revolution, the abolition of episcopacy and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic James VII by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from England. On 22 July 1706 the Treaty of Union was agreed between representatives of the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England and the following year twin Acts of Union were passed by both parliaments to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain with effect from 1 May 1707.
The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians. However, two major Jacobite risings launched in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the British throne. The threat of the Jacobite movement to the United Kingdom and its monarchs effectively ended at the Battle of Culloden, Great Britain's last pitched battle. This defeat paved the way for large-scale removals of the indigenous populations of the Highlands and Islands, known as the Highland Clearances.
The Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution made Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse. After World War II, Scotland experienced an industrial decline which was particularly severe. Only in recent decades has the country enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance. Economic factors which have contributed to this recovery include a resurgent financial services industry, electronics manufacturing, (see Silicon Glen), and the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Following a referendum on devolution proposals in 1997, the Scotland Act 1998 was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament to establish a devolved Scottish Parliament.
The main land of Scotland comprises the northern third of the land mass of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the northwest coast of Continental Europe. The total area is 78,772 km² (30,414 sq mi), comparable to the size of the Czech Republic, making Scotland the 117th largest country in the world. Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 mi) between the basin of the River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. The Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the North Sea is to the east. The island of Ireland lies only 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the southwestern peninsula of Kintyre; Norway is 305 kilometres (190 mi) to the east and the Faroes, 270 kilometres (168 mi) to the north.
Loch Tummel in Perth and Kinross.
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. Important exceptions include the Isle of Man, which having been lost to England in the 14th century is now a crown dependency outside of the United Kingdom; the island groups Orkney and Shetland, which were acquired from Norway in 1472; and Berwick-upon-Tweed, lost to England in 1482.
The geographical centre of Scotland lies a few miles from the village of Newtonmore in Badenoch. Rising to 1,344 metres (4,406 ft) above sea level, Scotland's highest point is the summit of Ben Nevis, in Lochaber, while Scotland's longest river, the River Tay, flows for a distance of 190 km (120 miles).
The whole of Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. From a geological perspective the country has three main sub-divisions.
The Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This part of Scotland largely comprises ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny. It is interspersed with igneous intrusions of a more recent age, the remnants of which have formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and Skye Cuillins. A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast. The Highlands are generally mountainous and the highest elevations in the British Isles are found here. Scotland has over 790 islands, divided into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are numerous bodies of freshwater including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Some parts of the coastline consist of machair, a low lying dune pasture land.
The Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations. Many of these sediments have economic significance for it is here that the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland's industrial revolution are to be found. This area has also experienced intense volcanism, Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh being the remnant of a once much larger volcano. This area is relatively low-lying, although even here hills such as the Ochils and Campsie Fells are rarely far from view.
The Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 kilometres (125 mi) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second fault line (the Southern Uplands fault) that runs from Girvan to Dunbar. The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian deposits laid down some 4500 million years ago. The high point of the Southern Uplands is Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft).
The Southern Uplands is home to the UK's highest village, Wanlockhead (430m/1411ft above sea level).
The national flag of Scotland, known as the Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross, dates (at least in legend) from the 9th century, and is thus the oldest national flag still in use. Since 1606 the Saltire has also formed part of the design of the Union Flag. There are numerous other symbols and symbolic artefacts, both official and unofficial, including the thistle, the nation's floral emblem, the 6 April 1320 statement of political independence the Declaration of Arbroath, the textile pattern tartan that often signifies a particular Scottish clan, and the Lion Rampant flag.
Flower of Scotland is popularly held to be the National Anthem of Scotland, and is played at events such as football or rugby matches involving the Scotland national team. Scotland the Brave is used for the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games. However, since devolution, more serious discussion of the issue has led to the use of Flower of Scotland being disputed. Other candidates include Highland Cathedral, Scots Wha Hae and A Man's A Man for A' That.
St Andrew's Day, 30 November, is the national day, although Burns' Night tends to be more widely observed. Tartan Day is a recent innovation from Canada. In 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, designating the day to be an official bank holiday.
For more information about Scotland, this can be found here [link]
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