Map of Scotland (35KB)
General information factsheet
+ Geography and climate
+ Government and sovereignty
+ Historical background
Geography and climate
Location: Western Europe, northern third of the island of Great Britain.
Area: 78,782 sq km (approximately the size of the Czech Republic or South Carolina).
Coastline: 3,700 km.
Terrain: Low rounded mountains in the south, gently rolling hills on the eastern shores, rugged mountains on western and central Scotland (Highlands). Plain areas in the south and north east.
Forest: 1,300,000 ha. - (17%).
Highest elevation: Ben Nevis (1,344 m), Highlands, western Scotland.
Climate: Temperate maritime, influenced by the North Atlantic current, the Gulf Stream; mild winters, cool summers and consistently humid.
Average temperature and rainfall index:
||Fort William (Highlands)
||18 C / 10 C
||19 C / 10 C
||16 C / 11 C
||6 C / 0 C
||6 C / 2 C
||6 C / 2 C
Population: 5.1 million (2008).
Around 75% of the population lives within the triangle Gasgow-Dundee-Edinburgh.
Main 3 cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen.
Scottish diaspora: Largest Scottish emigrant communities are found in England, USA and Canada.
Population growth rate: +1.5% (2004).
Ethnic composition: Base of Celtic (Gaelic and Brythonic) and Germanic (Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian). New population contributions from English, white European groups, and Asian groups from India and Pakistan.
Religious affiliation: Christian Protestant Church of Scotland 42%, No religion 28%, Christian Roman Catholic 16%, Others: 14% (2001).
Official languages: English. Spoken and understood by 100% of the Scottish population.
Unofficial languages: Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Scots, a Germanic language related to English, is widely spoken in Scotland. Because of its similarity with English, Scots is often considered to be a dialect of English. Scottish Gaelic is close to Irish Gaelic, and it is fluently spoken by about 50,000 speakers in the west of Scotland.
Edinburgh, capital of Scotland
Sovereignty: Former independent Kingdom united with England since the Act of Union of 1707. In 1999 Scotland became an autonomous territory of the United Kingdom with full autonomy on economy, infrastructure, environment, health, social services, education and culture.
Government type: Parliamentary democracy, autonomous region of the United Kingdom.
Administrative divisions: 32 council areas; Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, Western Isles, West Lothian.
Constitution: Unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice.
Legal system: Scots Law, uncodified combination of both civil law and common law.
Executive branch: Scottish Government, composed by a Head of Government (First Minister) and a Cabinet (Ministers) selected by the First Minister and appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom.
Legislative branch: Parliament (Scottish Parliament), consisting on 129 members elected by popular vote, serve four year term.
Judicial branch: Scotland's Court of Session and Court of the Justiciary.
Current Government: Scottish National Party. First Minister: Mr. Alex Salmond.
Political parties: Scottish National Party (SNP), Scottish Labour Party; Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party; Scottish Liberal Democrats; Scottish Green Party.
National holiday: No Scottish national day is officially celebrated, although St. Andrew, 30 November, is unofficially considered Scotland's national day.
Official flag: The Saltire, St Andrew's flag, known to be a national emblem of Scotland as early as 1286. The legend accounts that the St. Andrew's cross appeared in the sky to help the Scots to win a battle against the Angles, hence the colours of the white cross over the blue flag.
- Scotland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with acute territorial and social wealth inequalities.
- Banking is a major industry in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland's global income alone is equivalent to more than one-quarter of Scotland's total economic output.
- Oil exploration in Scotland's North Sea remains important for the Scottish economy even though most of economic profit is taken out of Scotland by non Scottish-based companies.
- Scotland has attracted an important number of hi-tech manufacturing and service (call-centres) industries to the industrial area between Glasgow and Edinburgh known as the Silicon Glen.
- Land ownership in Scotland is concentrated in relatively few hands (some 350 people own about half the land in Scotland).
- Fishing and agriculture, Scotch whisky production and tourism are Scotland's other important sectors.
GDP Purchasing Power Parity: approx. € 109 billion (2006).
GDP real growth rate: +2.2% (2006).
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity - approx. € 24,792 (2005).
Population below poverty line: info not available.
Labour force: 3.1 million (2001).
Labour force - occupation by sectors: info not available.
Unemployment rate: 2.1% (2007).
Budget: € 38 billion (2008).
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP).
Industries: Banking and finance, steel, transport equipment, oil and gas, whisky, tourism.
Main airports: Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen.
Main ports: Forth-Edinburgh, Sullom Voe, Clyde, Aberdeen.
- Megalithic culture in Scotland ca. 4500-1500 BC. Stone constructions characteristic of the Scottish historical heritage.
- Bronze Age and trade in the European Atlantic, 1500-700 BC.
- Celtic culture flourishes in Caledonia (today's Scotland) circa 500 BC.
- Roman empire: Rome establishes presence in half of Caledonia in 79 AD.
- Christianity spreads in Caledonia ca. 400 AD, blending with native beliefs and greatly influencing Scottish society to this day.
- Fall of the Roman Empire ca. 410 AD.
- Scot Celts from Ireland begin to take control of Caledonia, which progressively becomes Scotland.
- Germanic invasions: Angles, Saxons and Frisians invade Britannia from 500 AD. Thousands of Celtic refugees move within or outside Britannia escaping from the Anglo-Saxon invaders.
- Viking age: Scandinavians take control of much of Scotland between 793-1014 AD.
- Kingdom of Scotland: Scotland became in 843 AD a unified kingdom composed by Irish-origin Scots and Caledonian-native Picts. Scottish kings gained territories from Norway and defeated English invasions, the last one at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Church reformation in 1560, Scotland turns Protestant.
- Union with England: Scottish King James VI inherits the throne of England in 1603. Scottish Crown bankrupted after failed attempt of stablishing Scottish colony in Panama, 1698. Treaty of Union of Great Britain signed by the Scottish and English Parliaments in 1707. Both the Scottish and the English Parliaments are dissolved, new United Kingdom Parliament is created in London, England.
- Highland and Lowland Clearances, 1762-1830: tenant farmers expelled from their homeland to make space for sheep. Clan system is broken. Mass emigration to North America and Australasia.
- Industrial Revolution in Britain. Golden years of Scottish engineering and inventions, 19-20th centuries.
- British Empire, 18-20th centuries, many Scots travel and resettle to British colonial posessions.
- World Wars: 147,609 Scots die in WW1, 1914-1918. Over 50,000 Scots die in WW2, 1939-1945.
- Political activism: political parties, cultural organisations and other pressure groups reemerge from the 1960's demanding devolution of sovereignty on Scottish affairs to the Scottish people.
- European Union: as a part of the UK, Scotland becomes a territory of the EEC - EU in 1973.
- The Oil industry: British exploration of the oil and gas fields leaves substantial income in Scotland, although most of the nation's oil revenues are retained by the United Kingdom government.
- Political devolution: in 1997 the Scottish people voted in a referendum for the creation of a Scottish government with large powers over economic policy, culture, education, environment and social affairs. The Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament were established in 1999.