Glasgow City is the largest council area in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. Limited self-governing power, covering matters such as education, social services and roads and transportation, is devolved from the Scottish Government to each subdivision. Scotland is the second-largest country in the United Kingdom, and accounted for 8.3% of the population in 2012.
Old English Scotland was used for 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.
The first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands.: 10 During the first millennium BC, the society changed dramatically to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.: 11
comes Theodosius, however, Roman military government was withdrawn from the island altogether by the early 5th century, resulting in the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain and the immigration of the Saxons to southeastern Scotland and the rest of eastern Great Britain.
Beginning in the sixth century, the area that is now Scotland was divided into three areas:
Kingdom of Northumbria, which had conquered southeastern Scotland;: 18–20 and Dál Riata, which included territory in western Scotland and northern Ireland, and spread Gaelic language and culture into Scotland. These societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves (mostly captured in war) through the ninth century.
Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of
Norse settlements were in northwest Scotland, but they eventually conquered many areas along the coast. Old Norse entirely displaced Gaelic in the Northern Isles.
In the ninth century, the Norse threat allowed a Gael named
Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth I) to seize power over Pictland, establishing a royal dynasty to which the modern monarchs trace their lineage, and marking the beginning of the end of Pictish culture.: 31–32  The kingdom of Cináed and his descendants, called Alba, was Gaelic in character but existed on the same area as Pictland. By the end of the tenth century, the Pictish language went extinct as its speakers shifted to Gaelic.: 32–33 From a base in eastern Scotland north of the River Forth and south of the River Spey, the kingdom expanded first southwards, into the former Northumbrian lands, and northwards into Moray.: 34–35 Around the turn of the millennium, there was a centralization in agricultural lands and the first towns began to be established.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, much of Scotland was under the control of a single ruler. Initially, Gaelic culture predominated, but immigrants from France, England and Flanders steadily created a more diverse society, with the Gaelic language starting to be replaced by Scots. Altogether, a modern nation-state emerged from this. At the end of this period, war against England started the growth of a
Scottish clans following the death of Somerled in 1164.: 48–49 The system of feudalism was consolidated, with both Anglo-Norman incomers and native Gaelic chieftains being granted land in exchange for serving the king.: 53–54 The complex relationship with Scotland's southern neighbour over this period is characterised by Scottish kings making successful and unsuccessful attempts to exploit English political turmoil, followed by the longest period of peace between Scotland and England in the mediaeval period: from 1217–1296.
The death of Alexander III in March 1286 broke the succession line of Scotland's kings. Edward I of England arbitrated between various claimants for the Scottish crown. In return for surrendering Scotland's nominal independence, John Balliol was pronounced king in 1292.: 47  In 1294, Balliol and other Scottish lords refused Edward's demands to serve in his army against the French. Scotland and France sealed a treaty on 23 October 1295, known as the Auld Alliance. War ensued, and John was deposed by Edward who took personal control of Scotland. Andrew Moray and William Wallace initially emerged as the principal leaders of the resistance to English rule in the Wars of Scottish Independence, until Robert the Bruce was crowned king of Scotland in 1306. Victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 proved the Scots had regained control of their kingdom. In 1320 the world's first documented declaration of independence, the Declaration of Arbroath, won the support of Pope John XXII, leading to the legal recognition of Scottish sovereignty by the English Crown.
: 70, 72
A civil war between the
House of Stewart.: 77 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,: 93 despite the effects of the Black Death in 1349: 76 and increasing division between Highlands and Lowlands.: 78 Multiple truces reduced warfare on the southern border.
church government.: 124 The military was strengthened, allowing the imposition of royal authority on the western Highland clans. The 1609 Statutes of Iona compelled the cultural integration of Hebridean clan leaders.: 37–40 In 1641 and again in 1643, the Parliament of Scotland unsuccessfully sought a union with England which was "federative" and not "incorporating", in which Scotland would retain a separate parliament. The issue of union split the parliament in 1648.
After the execution of the Scottish king at
Restoration in Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland sought a commercial union with England in 1664; the proposal was rejected in 1668.
In common with countries such as France, Norway, Sweden and Finland, Scotland experienced famines during the 1690s. Mortality, reduced childbirths and increased emigration reduced the population of parts of the country about 10–15%. In 1698, the Company of Scotland attempted a project to secure a trading colony on the Isthmus of Panama. Almost every Scottish landowner who had money to spare is said to have invested in the Darien scheme.
Scottish Exemplification (official copy) of the Treaty of Union of 1707
After another proposal from the English House of Lords was rejected in 1695, and a further Lords motion was voted down in the House of Commons in 1700, the Parliament of Scotland again rejected union in 1702. The failure of the Darien Scheme bankrupted the landowners who had invested, though not the burghs. Nevertheless, the nobles' bankruptcy, along with the threat of an English invasion, played a leading role in convincing the Scots elite to back a union with England. On 22 July 1706, the Treaty of Union was agreed between representatives of the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England. 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 with popular opposition and anti-union riots in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and elsewhere. The newly formed Parliament of Great Britain rejected proposals from the Parliament of Ireland that the third kingdom be incorporated in the union.
With trade tariffs with England abolished, trade blossomed, especially with
American War of Independence in 1776, Glasgow was the world's premier tobacco port, dominating world trade.
The disparity between the wealth of the merchant classes of the Scottish Lowlands and the ancient clans of the Scottish Highlands grew, amplifying centuries of division.
Episcopalian Protestants. 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
In the Highlands, clan chiefs gradually started to think of themselves more as commercial landlords than leaders of their people. These social and economic changes included the first phase of the Highland Clearances and, ultimately, the demise of clanship.: 32–53, passim
The Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution turned Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse — so much so Voltaire said "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation." With the demise of Jacobitism and the advent of the Union, thousands of Scots, mainly Lowlanders, took up numerous positions of power in politics, civil service, the army and navy, trade, economics, colonial enterprises and other areas across the nascent British Empire. Historian Neil Davidson notes "after 1746 there was an entirely new level of participation by Scots in political life, particularly outside Scotland." Davidson also states "far from being 'peripheral' to the British economy, Scotland – or more precisely, the Lowlands – lay at its core."
Glasgow became one of the largest cities in the world and known as "the
Second City of the Empire" after London. After 1860, the Clydeside shipyards specialised in steamships made of iron (after 1870, made of steel), which rapidly replaced the wooden sailing vessels of both the merchant fleets and the battle fleets of the world. It became the world's pre-eminent shipbuilding centre. The industrial developments, while they brought work and wealth, were so rapid that housing, town-planning, and provision for public health did not keep pace with them, and for a time living conditions in some of the towns and cities were notoriously bad, with overcrowding, high infant mortality, and growing rates of tuberculosis.
This period saw a process of rehabilitation for Highland culture. In the 1820s, as part of the Romantic revival, tartan and the kilt were adopted by members of the social elite, not just in Scotland, but across Europe, prompted by the popularity of Macpherson's Ossian cycle and then Walter Scott's Waverley novels. The Highlands remained poor and the only part of mainland Britain with a recurrent famine. A small range of products were exported from the region, which had negligible industrial production and a continued population growth that tested the subsistence agriculture. These problems, and the desire to improve agriculture and profits were the driving forces of the ongoing Highland Clearances, in which many of the population of the Highlands suffered eviction as lands were enclosed, principally so that they could be used for sheep farming. The first phase of the clearances followed patterns of agricultural change throughout Britain. The second phase was driven by overpopulation, the Highland Potato Famine and the collapse of industries that had relied on the wartime economy of the Napoleonic Wars. The population of Scotland grew steadily in the 19th century, from 1,608,000 in the census of 1801 to 2,889,000 in 1851 and 4,472,000 in 1901. Even with the development of industry, there were not enough good jobs. As a result, during the period 1841–1931, about 2 million Scots migrated to North America and Australia, and another 750,000 Scots relocated to England.
After prolonged years of struggle in the Kirk, the Evangelicals gained control of the General Assembly in 1834 and passed the Veto Act, which allowed congregations to reject unwanted "intrusive" presentations to livings by patrons. The following "Ten Years' Conflict" of legal and political wrangling ended in defeat for the non-intrusionists in the civil courts. The result was a schism from the church by some of the non-intrusionists led by Dr Thomas Chalmers, known as the Great Disruption of 1843. Roughly a third of the clergy, mainly from the North and Highlands, formed the separate Free Church of Scotland. In the late 19th century growing divisions between fundamentalist Calvinists and theological liberals resulted in a further split in the Free Church as the rigid Calvinists broke away to form the Free Presbyterian Church in 1893.Catholic emancipation in 1829 and the influx of large numbers of Irish immigrants, particularly after the famine years of the late 1840s, mainly to the growing lowland centres like Glasgow, led to a transformation in the fortunes of Catholicism. In 1878, despite opposition, a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy was restored to the country, and Catholicism became a significant denomination within Scotland.
Industrialisation, urbanisation and the Disruption of 1843 all undermined the tradition of parish schools. From 1830 the state began to fund buildings with grants; then from 1846 it was funding schools by direct sponsorship; and in 1872 Scotland moved to a system like that in England of state-sponsored largely free schools, run by local school boards.
The University of St Andrews pioneered the admission of women to Scottish universities. From 1892 Scottish universities could admit and graduate women and the numbers of women at Scottish universities steadily increased until the early 20th century.
Deer stalkers on Glenfeshie Estate spying with monoculars
, ca. 1858
Caused by the advent of
Balmoral estate, purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, that fuelled the romanticisation of upland Scotland and initiated an influx of the newly wealthy acquiring similar estates in the following decades. In the late 19th century just 118 people owned half of Scotland, with nearly 60 per cent of the whole country being part of shooting estates. While their relative importance has somewhat declined due to changing recreational interests throughout the 20th century, deer stalking and grouse shooting remain of prime importance on many private estates in Scotland.
The war saw the emergence of a radical movement called "
Irish Catholic working-class districts. Women were especially active in building neighbourhood solidarity on housing issues. The "Reds" operated within the Labour Party with little influence in Parliament and the mood changed to passive despair by the late 1920s.
The shipbuilding industry expanded by a third and expected renewed prosperity, but instead, a serious depression hit the economy by 1922 and it did not fully recover until 1939. The interwar years were marked by economic stagnation in rural and urban areas, and high unemployment.
During the Second World War, Scotland was targeted by Nazi Germany largely due to its factories, shipyards, and coal mines. Cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh were targeted by German bombers, as were smaller towns mostly located in the central belt of the country. Perhaps the most significant air-raid in Scotland was the Clydebank Blitz of March 1941, which intended to destroy naval shipbuilding in the area. 528 people were killed and 4,000 homes totally destroyed.
Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany, crashed his plane at Bonnyton Moor
in the Scottish central belt in an attempt to make peace.
Perhaps Scotland's most unusual wartime episode occurred in 1941 when Rudolf Hess flew to Renfrewshire, possibly intending to broker a peace deal through the Duke of Hamilton. Before his departure from Germany, Hess had given his adjutant, Karlheinz Pintsch, a letter addressed to Hitler that detailed his intentions to open peace negotiations with the British. Pintsch delivered the letter to Hitler at the Berghof around noon on 11 May.Albert Speer later said Hitler described Hess's departure as one of the worst personal blows of his life, as he considered it a personal betrayal. Hitler worried that his allies, Italy and Japan, would perceive Hess's act as an attempt by Hitler to secretly open peace negotiations with the British.
Nazis, and expeditions across the North Sea to assist resistance.
Scottish industry came out of the depression slump by a dramatic expansion of its industrial activity, absorbing unemployed men and many women as well. The shipyards were the centre of more activity, but many smaller industries produced the machinery needed by the British bombers, tanks and warships. Agriculture prospered, as did all sectors except for coal mining, which was operating mines near exhaustion. Real wages, adjusted for inflation, rose 25% and unemployment temporarily vanished. Increased income, and the more equal distribution of food, obtained through a tight rationing system, dramatically improved the health and nutrition.
Sir David Steel
After 1945, Scotland's economic situation worsened due to overseas competition, inefficient industry, and industrial disputes.
first minister of Scotland was Donald Dewar, who served until his sudden death in 2000.
September 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. The majority voted against the proposition, with 55% voting no to independence. More powers, particularly in relation to taxation, were devolved to the Scottish Parliament after the referendum, following cross-party talks in the Smith Commission
The mainland of Scotland comprises the northern third of the land mass of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the north-west coast of Continental Europe. The total area is 30,414 square miles (78,772 km2), comparable to the size of the Czech Republic. Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 miles (154 km) 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 13 miles (21 km) from the south-western peninsula of Kintyre; Norway is 190 miles (305 km) to the east and the Faroe Islands, 168 miles (270 km) to the north.
The territorial extent of Scotland is generally that established by the 1237
centre of Scotland lies a few miles from the village of Newtonmore in Badenoch. Rising to 1,344 metres (4,409 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 118 miles (190 km).
Geology and geomorphology
and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. From a geological perspective, the country has three main sub-divisions.
A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of
, a low-lying dune pasture land.
industrial revolution are found. This area has also experienced intense volcanism, Arthur's 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.
Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft). The Southern Uplands is home to Scotland's highest village, Wanlockhead (430 m or 1,411 ft above sea level).
Moscow region in Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite side of Eurasia. Temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the temperature of −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on 11 February 1895, the coldest ever recorded anywhere in the UK. Winter maxima average 6 °C (43 °F) in the Lowlands, with summer maxima averaging 18 °C (64 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) at Floors Castle, Scottish Borders on 19 July 2022.
The west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the influence of Atlantic
ocean currents and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest places in the country: it had more than 300 hours of sunshine in May 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest, with annual rainfall in a few places exceeding 3,000 mm (120 in). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 in) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar has an average of 59 snow days per year, while many coastal areas average fewer than 10 days of lying snow per year.
Scotland's wildlife is typical of the north-west of Europe, although several of the larger mammals such as the lynx, brown bear, wolf, elk and walrus were hunted to extinction in historic times. There are important populations of seals and internationally significant nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds such as gannets. The golden eagle is something of a national icon.
On the high mountain tops, species including
beaver and wild boar. Today, much of the remaining native Caledonian Forest lies within the Cairngorms National Park and remnants of the forest remain at 84 locations across Scotland. On the west coast, remnants of ancient Celtic Rainforest still remain, particularly on the Taynish peninsula in Argyll, these forests are particularly rare due to high rates of deforestation throughout Scottish history.
The flora of the country is varied incorporating both
. The size of councils is in proportion to their population.
The population of Scotland at the 2001 Census was 5,062,011. This rose to 5,295,400, the highest ever, at the 2011 Census. The most recent ONS estimate, for mid-2019, was 5,463,300.
In the 2011 Census, 62% of Scotland's population stated their national identity as 'Scottish only', 18% as 'Scottish and British', 8% as 'British only', and 4% chose 'other identity only'.
In August 2012, the Scottish population reached an all-time high of 5.25 million people. The reasons given were that, in Scotland, births were outnumbering the number of deaths, and immigrants were moving to Scotland from overseas. In 2011, 43,700 people moved from Wales, Northern Ireland or England to live in Scotland.
Over the course of its history, Scotland has long had a tradition of migration from Scotland and immigration into Scotland. In 2021, the Scottish Government released figures showing that an estimated 41,000 people had immigrated from other international countries into Scotland, whilst an average of 22,100 people had migrated from Scotland. Scottish Government data from 2002 shows that by 2021, there had been a sharp increase in immigration to Scotland, with 2002 estimates standing at 27,800 immigrants. While immigration had increased from 2002, migration from Scotland had dropped, with 2002 estimates standing at 26,200 people migrating from Scotland.
Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, the largest city is Glasgow, which has just over 584,000 inhabitants. The Greater Glasgow conurbation, with a population of almost 1.2 million, is home to nearly a quarter of Scotland's population. The Central Belt is where most of the main towns and cities are located, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Perth. Scotland's only major city outside the Central Belt is Aberdeen. The Scottish Lowlands host 80% of the total population, where the Central Belt accounts for 3.5 million people.
In general, only the more accessible and larger islands remain inhabited. Currently, fewer than 90 remain inhabited. The Southern Uplands are essentially rural in nature and dominated by agriculture and forestry. Because of housing problems in Glasgow and Edinburgh, five new towns were designated between 1947 and 1966. They are East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Cumbernauld, Livingston, and Irvine.
Scotland has three officially recognised languages: English,
Western Isles, where a large proportion of people still speak it. Nationally, its use is confined to 1% of the population. The number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland dropped from 250,000 in 1881 to 60,000 in 2008.
Immigration since World War II has given Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee small South Asian communities. In 2011, there were an estimated 49,000 ethnically Pakistani people living in Scotland, making them the largest non-White ethnic group. Since the enlargement of the European Union more people from Central and Eastern Europe have moved to Scotland, and the 2011 census indicated that 61,000 Poles live there.
There are many more people with Scottish ancestry living abroad than the total population of Scotland. In the 2000 Census, 9.2 million Americans self-reported some degree of
Scottish-Canadian community accounts for 4.7 million people. About 20% of the original European settler population of New Zealand came from Scotland.
Living and healthcare standards
The total fertility rate (TFR) in Scotland is below the replacement rate of 2.1 (the TFR was 1.73 in 2011). The majority of births are to unmarried women (51.3% of births were outside of marriage in 2012).
Life expectancy for those born in Scotland between 2012 and 2014 is 77.1 years for males and 81.1 years for females. This is the lowest of any of the four countries of the UK. The number of hospital admissions in Scotland for diseases such as cancer was 2,528 in 2002. Over the next ten years, by 2012, this had increased to 2,669. Hospital admissions for other diseases, such as coronary heart disease (CHD) were lower, with 727 admissions in 2002, and decreasing to 489 in 2012.
Data collated by the Scottish Government in 2018/2019 asked the general population of Scotland to self assess their general health to provide a large sample for subnational analysis. The data collated highlighted that 72% of people in Scotland ranked their general health as "good or very good", 19.8% as "fair" and 8.1% of people saying that their general health is "bad or very bad".
Forms of Christianity have dominated religious life in what is now the Scotland for more than 1,400 years.
In 2011 just over half (54%) of the Scottish population reported being a Christian while nearly 37% reported not having a religion in a 2011 census.
Presbyterian system of church government and enjoys independence from the state. Its membership dropped just below 300,000 in 2020 (5% of the total population) 
The Church operates a territorial parish structure, with every community in Scotland having a local congregation.
Scotland also has a significant
Roman Catholic population, 19% professing that faith, particularly in Greater Glasgow and the north-west. After the Reformation, Roman Catholicism in Scotland continued in the Highlands and some western islands like Uist and Barra, and it was strengthened during the 19th century by immigration from Ireland. Other Christian denominations in Scotland include the Free Church of Scotland, and various other Presbyterian offshoots. Scotland's third largest church is the Scottish Episcopal Church.
There are an estimated 75,000 Muslims in Scotland (about 1.4% of the population),
Samyé Ling monastery near Eskdalemuir, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007, is the first Buddhist monastery in western Europe.
is the oldest University in Scotland and third oldest in the English-speaking world.
Education in Scotland is the responsibility of the
First Book of Discipline set out a plan for a school in every parish, but this proved financially impossible. In 1616 an act in Privy council commanded every parish to establish a school. By the late seventeenth century there was a largely complete network of parish schools in the lowlands, but in the Highlands basic education was still lacking in many areas. Education remained a matter for the church rather than the state until the Education (Scotland) Act 1872.
Scotland's University Courts are the only bodies in Scotland authorised to award degrees.
Tuition fees are handled by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), which pays the fees of what it defines as "Young Students". Young Students are defined as those under 25, without children, marriage, civil partnership or cohabiting partner, who have not been outside of full-time education for more than three years. Fees must be paid by those outside the young student definition, typically from £1,200 to £1,800 for undergraduate courses, dependent on year of application and type of qualification. Postgraduate fees can be up to £3,400. The system has been in place since 2007 when graduate endowments were abolished. Labour's education spokesperson Rhona Brankin criticised the Scottish system for failing to address student poverty.
Scotland's universities are complemented in the provision of Further and Higher Education by 43 colleges. Colleges offer National Certificates, Higher National Certificates, and Higher National Diplomas. These Group Awards, alongside Scottish Vocational Qualifications, aim to ensure Scotland's population has the appropriate skills and knowledge to meet workplace needs. In 2014, research reported by the Office for National Statistics found that Scotland was the most highly educated country in Europe and among the most well-educated in the world in terms of tertiary education attainment, with roughly 40% of people in Scotland aged 16–64 educated to NVQ level 4 and above. Based on the original data for EU statistical regions, all four Scottish regions ranked significantly above the European average for completion of tertiary-level education by 25- to 64-year-olds.
reserved matters specified in the Scotland Act 1998, including taxes, social security, defence, international relations and broadcasting. The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland. It initially had only a limited power to vary income tax, but powers over taxation and social security were significantly expanded by the Scotland Acts of 2012 and 2016. The 2016 Act gave the Scottish Government powers to manage the affairs of the Crown Estate in Scotland, leading to the creation of Crown Estate Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament can give legislative consent over devolved matters back to the British Parliament by passing a
Legislative Consent Motion if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered more appropriate for a certain issue. The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen a divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the UK. For instance, university education and some care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, while fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in enclosed public places.
is the seat of the national parliament of Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament is a
additional member system. MSPs normally serve for a five-year period. The Parliament nominates one of its Members, who is then appointed by the monarch to serve as first minister. Other ministers are appointed by the first minister and serve at his/her discretion. Together they make up the Scottish Government, the executive arm of the devolved government. The Scottish Government is headed by the first minister, who is accountable to the Scottish Parliament and is the minister of charge of the Scottish Government. The first minister is also the political leader of Scotland. The Scottish Government also comprises the deputy first minister, who deputises for the first minister during a period of absence. Alongside the deputy first minister's requirements as Deputy, the minister also has a cabinet ministerial responsibility. The current Scottish Government has nine cabinet secretaries and there are 15 other ministers who work alongside the cabinet secretaries in their appointed areas.
Since 1999, relations between the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the Government of the United Kingdom has been conducted under the banner of Intergovernmental Relations. The First Minister, other cabinet secrateries and junior ministers of the Scottish Government are in daily communication relating to areas of national and international interest, discussing joint policy making and strengthening approaches to working together. A Memorandum of Understanding, created in 1999, lays emphasis on the principles of good communication, consultation and co-operation. Overall, accountability for intergovernmental relations is the responsibility of the First Minister. The First Minister is a member of the Heads of Government Council ("The Council") (previously the Joint Ministerial Committee). Other cabinet secreraties and junior ministers within the Scottish Government participate in tier two (the Inter-ministerial Standing Committee) and tier 3 (the Inter-ministerial Group) of The Council which may include areas including education, finance and economy, investment and trade and rural affairs.
Since devolution in 1999, Scotland has devolved stronger working relations across the two other devolved governments, the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive. Whilst there are no formal concordats between the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive, ministers from each devolved government meet at various points throughout the year at various events such as the British-Irish Council and also meet to discuss matters and issues that are devolved to each government. The Scottish Government considers the successful re-establishment of the Plenary, and establishment of the Domestic fora to be important facets of the relationship with the British Government and the other devolved administrations.
In the aftermath of the United Kingdom's decision to withdraw from the European Union in 2016, the Scottish Government has called for there to be a joint approach from each of the devolved governments. In early 2017, the devolved governments met to discuss Brexit and agree on Brexit strategies from each devolved government which lead for Theresa May to issue a statement that stated that the devolved governments will not have a central role or decision-making process in the Brexit process, but that the central government plans to "fully engage" Scotland in talks alongside the governments of Wales and Northern Ireland.
Minister for International Development and Europe (responsible for European Union relations and international relations).
Whilst an independent sovereign nation, Scotland had a close "special relationship" with France (known then as the Kingdom of France). In 1295, both Scotland and France signed what became known as the Auld Alliance in Paris, which acted as a military and diplomatic alliance between English invasion and expansion. The French military sought the assistance of Scotland in 1415 during the Battle of Agincourt which was close to bringing the Kingdom of France to collapse. The Auld Alliance was seen as important for Scotland and its position within Europe, having signed a treaty of military, economic and diplomatic co-operation with a wealthy European nation. There had been an agreement between Scotland and France that allowed citizens of both countries to hold dual citizenship, which was revoked by the French Government in 1903. In recent times, there have been arguments that indicate that the Auld Alliance was never formally ended by either Scotland or France, and that many elements of the treaty may remain in place today. Scotland and France still have a special relationship, with a Statement of Intent being signed in 2013 which committed both Scotland and France to building on shared history, friendship, co-operation between governments and cultural exchange programmes.
During the 31st G8 summit in 2005, the first minister of Scotland Jack McConnell welcomed each head of government of the G8 nations to the country's Glasgow Prestwick Airport on behalf of prime minister Tony Blair. At the same time, McConnell and the then Scottish Executive pioneered the way forward to launch what would become the Scotland Malawi Partnership which co-ordinates Scottish activities to strengthen existing links with Malawi. During McConnell's time as first minister, several relations with Scotland, including Scottish and Russian relations strengthened following a visit by President of RussiaVladimir Putin to Edinburgh. McConnell, speaking at the end, highlighted that the visit by Putin was a "post-devolution" step towards "Scotland regaining its international identity".
Under the Salmond administration, Scotland's trade and investment deals with countries such as China and Canada, where Salmond established the Canada Plan 2010–2015 which aimed to strengthen "the important historical, cultural and economic links" between both Canada and Scotland. To promote Scotland's interests and Scottish businesses in North America, there is a Scottish Affairs Office located in Washington, D.C., with the aim to promoting Scotland in both the United States and Canada.
During a 2017 visit to the United States, the first minister Nicola Sturgeon met Jerry Brown, Governor of California, where both signed an agreement committing both the Government of California and the Scottish Government to work together to tackle climate change, as well as Sturgeon signing a £6.3 million deal for Scottish investment from American businesses and firms promoting trade, tourism and innovation. During an official visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2016, Sturgeon stated that is it "important for Ireland and Scotland and the whole of the British Isles that Ireland has a strong ally in Scotland". During the same engagement, Sturgeon became the first head of government to address the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament).
referendum in 1997 found majority support for both creating the Parliament and granting it limited powers to vary income tax.
The Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports
commission to investigate the distribution of powers between devolved Scottish and UK-wide bodies. The Scotland Act 2012, based on proposals by the commission, was subsequently enacted devolving additional powers to the Scottish Parliament.
The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced the following day that as a result a new independence referendum was "highly likely". On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union. At Holyrood, Sturgeon's governing SNP continues to campaign for such a referendum; in December 2019 a formal request for the powers to hold one under Section 30 of the Scotland Act was submitted. In June 2022, Sturgeon announced plans to hold a referendum on 19 October 2023. At Westminster, the governing second Johnson ministry of the Conservative Party is opposed to another referendum and has refused the first minister's request. Because constitutional affairs are reserved matters under the Scotland Act, the Scottish Parliament would again have to be granted temporary additional powers under Section 30 in order to hold a legally binding vote.
Scotland has historical and cultural ties with northern countries outside the British Isles, such as the countries of Scandinavia. Scottish Government policy advocates for stronger political relations with the Nordic and Baltic countries, which has resulted in some Nordic-inspired policies being adopted such as baby boxes.
regions and districts. Some of these names are still sometimes used as geographical descriptors.
Modern Scotland is subdivided in various ways depending on the purpose. In local government, there have been 32 single-tier council areas since 1996,
Lord Provost alongside the Leader of the council, with a Chief Executive being appointed as director of the council area. Community Councils are informal organisations that represent specific sub-divisions within each council area.
In the Scottish Parliament, there are 73 constituencies and eight regions. For the Parliament of the United Kingdom, there are 59 constituencies. Until 2013, the Scottish fire brigades and police forces were based on a system of regions introduced in 1975. For healthcare and postal districts, and a number of other governmental and non-governmental organisations such as the churches, there are other long-standing methods of subdividing Scotland for the purposes of administration.
For three centuries the Scots legal system was unique for being the only national legal system without a parliament. This ended with the advent of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, which legislates for Scotland. Many features within the system have been preserved. Within criminal law, the Scots legal system is unique in having three possible verdicts: "guilty", "not guilty" and "not proven". Both "not guilty" and "not proven" result in an acquittal, typically with no possibility of retrial in accordance with the rule of double jeopardy. A retrial can hear new evidence at a later date that might have proven conclusive in the earlier trial at first instance, where the person acquitted subsequently admits the offence or where it can be proved that the acquittal was tainted by an attempt to pervert the course of justice – see the provisions of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011. Many laws differ between Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom, and many terms differ for certain legal concepts. Manslaughter, in England and Wales, is broadly similar to culpable homicide in Scotland, and arson is called wilful fire raising. Indeed, some acts considered crimes in England and Wales, such as forgery, are not so in Scotland. Procedure also differs. Scots juries, sitting in criminal cases, consist of fifteen jurors, which is three more than is typical in many countries.
The officeholder is one of the Great Officers of State of Scotland. The current Lord Advocate is Dorothy Bain, who was nominated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and appointed in June 2021. The Lord Advocate is supported by the Solicitor General for Scotland, currently Ruth Charteris. The Solicitor General supports the Lord Advocate in the deployment of the Lord Advocate's functions, and may exercise their statutory and common law powers if deemed necessary.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
is responsible for the Scottish Prison Service within the Scottish Government.
Edinburgh, the 13th-largest financial centre in the world and 4th largest in Europe in 2020
Scotland has a Western-style
Scotland's gross domestic product (GDP), including oil and gas produced in Scottish waters, was estimated at £150 billion for the calendar year 2012. In 2014, Scotland's per capita GDP was one of the highest in the EU. As of April 2019 the Scottish unemployment rate was 3.3%, below the UK's overall rate of 3.8%, and the Scottish employment rate was 75.9%.
in Glasgow, a major financial district in Scotland
In 2014, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were estimated to be £27.5 billion. Scotland's primary exports include whisky, electronics and financial services. The United States, Netherlands, Germany, France, and Norway constitute the country's major export markets.
Whisky is one of Scotland's more known goods of economic activity. Exports increased by 87% in the decade to 2012 and were valued at £4.3 billion in 2013, which was 85% of Scotland's food and drink exports. It supports around 10,000 jobs directly and 25,000 indirectly. It may contribute £400–682 million to Scotland, rather than several billion pounds, as more than 80% of whisky produced is owned by non-Scottish companies. A briefing published in 2002 by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) for the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Life Long Learning Committee stated that tourism accounted for up to 5% of GDP and 7.5% of employment.
Scotland was one of the industrial powerhouses of Europe from the time of the Industrial Revolution onwards, being a world leader in manufacturing. This left a legacy in the diversity of goods and services which Scotland produces, from textiles, whisky and shortbread to jet engines, buses, computer software, ships, avionics and microelectronics, as well as banking, insurance, investment management and other related financial services. In common with most other advanced industrialised economies, Scotland has seen a decline in the importance of both manufacturing industries and primary-based extractive industries. This has been combined with a rise in the service sector of the economy, which has grown to be the largest sector in Scotland.
Between 2016 and 2020, the Scottish Government estimated that 10% of people in Scotland were in persistent poverty following housing costs, with similar rates of persistent poverty for children (10%), working-age adults (10%) and pensioners (11%). Persistent child poverty rates had saw a relatively sharp drop, however, the accuracy of this was deemed to be questionable due to a number of various factors such as households re-entering the longitudanal sample allowing data gaps to be filled. Poverty figures in Scotland were largely the same in the previous calculation period between 2015 and 2019. 2021 Scottish Government analysis found that relative poverty rates had steadied following a period of small increases since the 1990s when it had been falling. The income of households were found to be continuing to rise and fall, with the median household income continuing to rise. It is estimated that 19% of Scotland's population (roughly 1.03 million people) were living in relative poverty after housing costs between 2017 and 2020, with 17% of the population estimated to be living in relative poverty before the deduction of housing costs in the same period.
Child poverty had been gradually rising by 2021 following a period of reduction between the late nineties and 2010, child poverty rates have been gradually rising again with an estimated 24% (240,000 children) living in relative poverty following housing costs, with an estimated 21% of children living in relative poverty before housing costs were deducted. The Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Child Payment in 2021 for low income families with children under six years of age in an attempt to reduce child poverty rates, with families receiving a payment of roughly £1,040GBP per year.
retail banks in Scotland is subject to the Banking Act 2009, which repealed all earlier legislation under which banknote issuance was regulated, and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Banknote Regulations 2009.
The value of the Scottish banknotes in circulation in 2013 was £3.8 billion, underwritten by the Bank of England using funds deposited by each clearing bank, under the Banking Act 2009, in order to cover the total value of such notes in circulation.
Scotland's primary sources for energy are provided through renewable energy (61.8%), nuclear (25.7%) and fossil fuel generation (10.9%).
In Scotland, 98.6% of all electricity used was from renewable sources. This is minus net exports. Between October 2021 and September 2022 63.1% of all electricity generated in Scotland was from renewable sources, 83.6% was classed as low carbon and 14.5% was from fossil fuels.
The Scottish Government has a target to have the equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland's heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.
Network Rail owns and operates the fixed infrastructure assets of the railway system in Scotland, while the Scottish Government retains overall responsibility for rail strategy and funding in Scotland. Scotland's rail network has 359 railway stations and around 1,710 miles (2,760 km) of track. In 2018–19 there were 102million passenger journeys on Scottish railways.
During the time of British Rail, the West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Glasgow Central was electrified in the early 1970s, followed by the East Coast Main Line in the late 1980s. British Rail created the ScotRail brand. When British Rail existed, many railway lines in Strathclyde were electrified. Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive was at the forefront with the acclaimed "largest electrified rail network outside London". Some parts of the network are electrified, but there are no electrified lines in the Highlands, Angus, Aberdeenshire, the cities of Dundee or Aberdeen, or Perth & Kinross, and none of the islands have a rail link. Trains serving railheads such as Wemyss Bay, Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig are often timed to connect with ferries to some of Scotland's islands.
Robert Burns, regarded as the national poet of Scotland is a well known and respected poet worldwide (left). The bagpipes
are a well-known symbol of Scotland and an early example of popular Scottish music (right).
Scottish music is a significant aspect of the nation's culture, with both traditional and modern influences. A famous traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland bagpipe, a woodwind reed instrument consisting of three drones and a melody pipe (called the chanter), which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. The popularity of pipe bands—primarily featuring bagpipes, various types of snares and drums, and showcasing Scottish traditional dress and music—has spread throughout the world. Bagpipes are featured in holiday celebrations, parades, funerals, weddings, and other events internationally. Many military regiments have a pipe band of their own. In addition to the Great Highland pipes, several smaller, somewhat quieter bellows-blown varieties of bagpipe are played in Scotland, including the smallpipes and the Border pipes
Rock band Simple Minds were the most commercially successful Scottish band of the 1980s, having found success in international markets such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, whilst pop singer Lewis Capaldi was recognised as the best selling artist in the UK in 2019.
Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the first working television system on 26 January 1926.
National newspapers such as the
The Press and Journal serving Aberdeen and the north. Scotland is represented at the Celtic Media Festival, which showcases film and television from the Celtic countries. Scottish entrants have won many awards since the festival began in 1980.
Television in Scotland is largely the same as UK-wide broadcasts. The national broadcaster is
Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld is one of Scotland's television and film production studios where the television programme Outlander is produced. Dumbarton Studios, located in Dumbarton is largely used for BBC Scotland programming, used for the filming and production of television programmes such as Still Game, River City, Two Doors Down, and Shetland.
Scottish cuisine has distinctive attributes and recipes of its own but shares much with wider
early modern era, French cuisine played a role in Scottish cookery due to cultural exchanges brought about by the "Auld Alliance", especially during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary, on her return to Scotland, brought an entourage of French staff who are considered responsible for revolutionising Scots cooking and for some of Scotland's unique food terminology.
governing body for Scottish association football, and a founding member of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which governs the Laws of the Game. As a result of this key role in the development of the sport Scotland is one of only four countries to have a permanent representative on the IFAB; the other four representatives being appointed for set periods by FIFA.
The Scottish Football Union was founded on Monday 3 March 1873 at a meeting held at
Glasgow Academy, Elmbank Street, Glasgow. The Scottish Rugby Union is the second oldest rugby union in the world. In 1924 the SFU changed its name to become the Scottish Rugby Union. International games were played at Inverleith
Scotland has competed at every Commonwealth Games since 1930 and has won 356 medals in total—91 Gold, 104 Silver and 161 Bronze. Edinburgh played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1986, and most recently Glasgow in 2014.
^"Countries within a country". 10 Downing Street. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2008. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
"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"
^Hanson, William S. The Roman Presence: Brief Interludes, in Edwards, Kevin J. & Ralston, Ian B.M. (Eds) (2003). Scotland After the Ice Age: Environment, Archeology and History, 8000 BC—AD 1000. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press.
. From that point on anti-union demonstrations were common in the capital. In November rioting spread to the south west, that stronghold of strict Calvinism and covenanting tradition. The Glasgow mob rose against union sympathisers in disturbances that lasted intermittently for over a month
^Richard J. Finlay, Modern Scotland 1914–2000 (2006), pp 1–33
^R. A. Houston and W. W. J. Knox, eds. The New Penguin History of Scotland (2001) p 426.Niall Ferguson points out in "The Pity of War" that the proportion of enlisted Scots who died was third highest in the war behind Serbia and Turkey and a much higher proportion than in other parts of the UK.
^The Articles: legal and miscellaneous, UK Parliament House of Lords (2007). "Article 19: The Scottish legal system and its courts was to remain unchanged":"Act of Union 1707". House of Lords. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
^"Law and institutions, Gaelic" & "Law and lawyers" in M. Lynch (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Scottish History, (Oxford, 2001), pp. 381–382 & 382–386. Udal Law remains relevant to land law in Orkney and Shetland: "A General History of Scots Law (20th century)"(PDF). Law Society of Scotland. Archived from the original(PDF) on 25 September 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2007.
^Bain, Robert (1959). Margaret O. MacDougall (ed.). Clans & Tartans of Scotland (revised). P.E. Stewart-Blacker (heralidic advisor), foreword by The R. Hon. C/refountess of Erroll. William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd. p. 108.
^"The Home of Golf". Scottish Government. 6 March 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2008. The Royal & Ancient and three public sector agencies are to continue using the Open Championship to promote Scotland as the worldwide home of golf.