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Scotland  (English / Scots)
Alba  (Scottish Gaelic)
Flag Royal Standard
MottoIn My Defens God Me Defend (Scots)
(often shown abbreviated as IN DEFENS)
AnthemNone (de jure)
Flower of Scotland, Scotland the Brave (de facto)
Location of  Scotland  (inset — orange)
in the United Kingdom (camel)

in the European continent  (white)

Capital Edinburgh
55°57′N 3°12′W / 55.95°N 3.2°W / 55.95; -3.2
Largest city Glasgow
Official languages English (de facto)1
Recognised regional languages Scottish Gaelic, Scots
Ethnic groups  89% Scottish, 7% English, Irish, Welsh, 4% other[1]
Demonym Scots, Scottish2
Government Constitutional monarchy3
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  First Minister (Head of Scottish Government) Alex Salmond MP MSP
 -  Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown MP
Legislature Scottish Parliament
Establishment Early Middle Ages; exact date of establishment unclear or disputed; traditional 843, by King Kenneth MacAlpin[2] 
 -  Total 78,772 km2 
30,414 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.9
 -  2008 estimate 5,168,500 
 -  2001 census 5,062,011 
 -  Density 65/km2 
168.2/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2006 estimate
 -  Total US$194 billion[citation needed] 
 -  Per capita US$39,680[citation needed] 
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 -  Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .uk4
Calling code 44
Patron saint St Andrew[3]
1 Both Scots and Scottish Gaelic are officially recognised as autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;[4] the Bòrd na Gàidhlig is tasked, under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, with securing Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding "equal respect" with English.[5]
2 Historically, the use of "Scotch" as an adjective comparable to "Scottish" was commonplace, particularly outwith Scotland. However, the modern use of the term describes only products of Scotland, usually food or drink related.
3 Scotland's head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). Scotland has limited self-government within the United Kingdom as well as representation in the UK Parliament. It is also a UK electoral region for the European Parliament. Executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh.
4 Also .eu, as part of the European Union. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.

Scotland (Gaelic: Alba) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom.[6][7][8] 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[9] including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres.[10][11] 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. Scottish waters consist of a large sector[12] of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union. This has given Aberdeen, the third largest city in Scotland, the title of Europe's oil capital.[13]

The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent sovereign state before 1 May 1707 when it entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain.[14][15] 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.[16][17] 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.[18]

The continued existence of legal, educational and religious institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the Union.[19] Although Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state, issues surrounding devolution and independence continue to be debated. After the creation of the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999, the first ever pro-independence Scottish Government was elected in 2007 when the Scottish National Party formed a minority administration.




Scotland is from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels, people from what is now Scotland and Ireland, both pirates and the Dal Riada who had come from Ireland to reside in the Northwest of what is now Scotland, in contrast, for example, to the Picts.[20] Accordingly, the Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Gaels) was initially used to refer to Ireland.[21] However, 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.[22] The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages.[14]


The founders of Scotland of late medieval legend, Scota with Goídel Glas, voyaging from Egypt, as depicted in a 15th century manuscript of the Scotichronicon of Walter Bower.

Early history

Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land-mass of modern Scotland, 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.[23][24] 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.[25] A four thousand year old tomb with burial treasures was discovered at Forteviot, near Perth, the capital of a Pictish Kingdom in the eighth/ninth century AD. Unrivalled anywhere in Britain, it contains the remains of an early Bronze Age ruler laid out on white quartz pebbles and birch bark, with possessions including a bronze and gold dagger, a wooden bowl, leather bag, and plant matter, later found to be flowers. This is the first evidence that Iron Age people placed flowers in their graves.[26][27]

Roman influence

Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement, located in the Bay of Skaill, Orkney.

The written protohistory of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a province called Britannia. Roman invasions and occupations of southern Scotland were a series of brief interludes.

In AD 83–84 the general Gnaeus Julius Agricola defeated the Caledonians at the Battle of Mons Graupius, and Roman forts were briefly set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line (only Cawdor near Inverness is known to have been constructed beyond that line). Three years after the battle the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands.[28]

The Romans erected Hadrian's Wall to control tribes on both sides of the wall,[29] and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the empire, although the army held the Antonine Wall in the Central Lowlands for two short periods—the last of these during the time of Emperor Septimius Severus from 208 until 210.[30]

The extent of Roman military occupation of any significant part of northern Scotland was limited to a total of about 40 years, although their influence on the southern section of the country occupied by Brythonic tribes such as the Votadini and Damnonii would still have been considerable between the first and the fifth century.[29]

A replica of the Pictish Hilton of Cadboll Stone.

Medieval period

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.[31] Another view places emphasis on the Battle of Dunnichen, and the reign of Bridei m. Beli (671–693), with another period of consolidation in the reign of Óengus mac Fergusa (732–761).[32] 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 (1107–1124). However, by the tenth century, the Pictish kingdom was dominated by what we can recognise as Gaelic culture, and had developed a traditional story of an Irish conquest around the ancestor of the contemporary royal dynasty, Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin).[2][33][34]

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

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