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About Scotland
Region: Cities and Towns:
Country : Scotland
Continent : Europe
Gentilic : Scottish, Scots
Population : 5,295,400
Area : 78,387 sq km
Latitude : 55°57′N
Longitude : 3°11′W
Visiting Scotland

from: WikiTravel
Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a country in north-western Europe, one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It has a 60 mile (96 km) land border with England to the south, and is separated from Northern Ireland by the North Channel of the Irish Sea. It is surrounded by the bracing waters of the North Sea to the east, and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and north. There are over 700 islands, most in groups to the west (the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides) and north (Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands). The capital is Edinburgh and the largest city is Glasgow.
Scotland is a beautiful country well-known for its dramatic scenery of mountains and valleys, rolling hills, green fields and forests, and rugged coastline. While everyone knows Highlands for this, Scotland is beautiful in the Lowlands, islands and the flat lands of the North-East as well. It also has lively and friendly cities, often of great architectural significance, and a rich history and heritage dating back thousands of years with many ancient and historic sites. Other characteristics that attract droves of visitors include golf (the game was created in Scotland and it has some of the world's best and most famous courses), whisky (many distilleries can be visited), family history (millions worldwide are descended from those who emigrated from Scotland when times were tough in the 18th and 19th centuries), hiking, wildlife and winter sports. Around Loch Ness in the north of the Highlands, you can also hunt for the Monster... or at least try.
While the sun may not always shine, the warm welcome and wonderful diversity of places, landscapes and experiences mean that Scotland has much to offer any traveler. Sometimes awe-inspiring and majestic, sometimes ramshackle and faded, proud yet also modest, modern yet also ancient, eccentric yet also charming, few travelers leave Scotland unaffected by their encounter.
Scotland is the most administratively independent of the four home nations of the UK, and retained its own legal, religious and educational institutions at the Union in 1707 which created Great Britain. Prior to 1707, it was an independent nation but had shared a monarch with England since 1603. Since 1999, it has had limited self-government with a First Minister and devolved parliament which governs nearly all internal affairs. Currently, there is a debate about whether to declare an independent state or remain part of the UK, culminating in a major referendum which will take place on the 18th of September 2014.
Administratively, Scotland has been divided into a large number of traditional counties and (currently) 32 modern unitary authorities. These are of only limited use to the traveller, however, and an alternative regionalisation — based on culture and geography — is far more practical. From south to north:
  • Borders The eastern two-thirds of the districts north of the border with England, fought over for hundreds of years. The beautiful rolling hills and fields are dotted with pretty towns, ruined abbeys and battlefields.
  • South WestHome of national poet Robert Burns and the Solway Coast ("Scotland's Riviera"), as well as the beautiful Isle of Arran.
  • Central BeltScotland's most urbanised region around and between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Most of the population of Scotland lives in the cities, towns and conurbations here.
  • HighlandsScotland's spectacular, mountainous north-west, encompassing the Great Glen and Loch Ness and at the furthest tip of Britain, John o'Groats. You can also visit the growing city of Inverness.
  • North East Scotland - Centred on the cities of Aberdeen and the slightly smaller Dundee, this beautiful region stretches from the Grampian mountains at the heart of Scotland to the dramatic east coast. It's a region of scenic agricultural land, quaint fishing ports, rugged mountains and hills, and dramatic castles. It's also the centre of two important Scottish industries, North Sea oil and whisky.
  • HebridesThe many islands off the north-west Scottish coast, divided into the groups of the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. Well-known islands such as Skye, Mull, Islay, and Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides and Lewis, North Uist, South Uist and Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides are just some of the spectacular isles here. They share a language (Scots Gaelic) and much of their culture with the Highlands.
  • Orkney Islands A group of islands immediately to the north of Scotland. The largest of the Orkney islands is known as the "Mainland" and islanders are called Orcadians. Inhabited for over 8000 years, they are the site of some of the best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, with UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
  • Shetland IslandsA group of islands north of the Orkney Islands, the furthest inhabited parts of the United Kingdom. Like the Orkney Islands, they have been fought over by Scotland and Scandinavia and both aspects of their heritage are important today.

  • Edinburgh (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) - the capital of Scotland, home to the World's largest Arts Festival every August and the First European City of Literature. It is often known as the "Festival City". Most of the city centre, with the dramatic and contrasting architecture of its Old Town and New Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Glasgow (Gaelic: Glaschu) - Scotland's largest city and most vibrant city, with the best shopping in Great Britain outside London and some of its most exciting nightlife. At one time, it was the centre of the largest ship-building industry in the world.
  • Aberdeen (Gaelic: Obar Dheathain) - Scotland's third largest city. Known for its impressive granite buildings, it is known as the "Granite City", the oil capital of Europe, and home to a large harbour and two renowned universities.
  • Dundee (Gaelic: Dùn Dè) - vibrant city with high population of students and one of the most distinct (perhaps incomprehensible) accents you'll hear. It is known as the city of "jute, jam and journalism", and the "City of Discovery" for its history of scientific activities and the home of Scott and Shackleton's Antarctic vessel, the RRS Discovery.
  • Inverness (Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) - the fast-growing capital of the Highlands, located on the River Ness and close to Loch Ness, where many tourists try (and fail) to find the monster. It is Britain's most northerly city.
  • Stirling (Gaelic: Sruighlea) - a royal fortress city dominated by the historic and dramatic castle, it was said that whoever controlled the castle, controlled Scotland (and many have tried!). Today, it also has a vibrant modern outlook.
  • Perth (Gaelic: Peairt) - an ancient royal burgh (i.e. a status of autonomous town/city granted by royal charter). It is the county seat of Perthshire. Smaller than its Australian counterpart to whom it gave its name, it is sometimes known as "The Fair City" following a novel by Walter Scott. Once a major centre of the court of Scottish kings and queens, its city status was restored by the Queen in 2012.

  • The Cairngorms - a mountain range near Aviemore and the largest National Park in Scotland
  • Loch Lomond & the Trossachs - Scotland's first national park
  • Loch Ness - Scotland's most famous loch.