Scotland The Land Scotland is part of the United Kingdom on the British Isles. It makes up one-third, or 32% of the island. It is bordered on the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean, while the North Sea is to the east of the country. England makes up the southeastern border. The Irish Sea is directly south of Scotland. The total area of the country is a little more than 30,400 square miles.
Scotland has a positive-relative location, and is a developed country. There are over 800 islands that are part of the nation, although there are only 186 islands that are inhabited. The majority of Scotland’s islands lay on its west coast. They are divided into two groups: the Inner Hebrides, and the Outer Hebrides. The greatest length of Scotland is about 287 miles on the mainland; including the Orkney and Shetland islands to the north would stretch the length to 450 miles.
The widest stretch of land is about 150 miles, and the skinniest width goes down to 24 miles. Scotland is divided into three regions: the Highlands, the Central Lowlands, and the Southern Uplands. More than half of Scotland is the Highlands, which is the most rugged region of all of the British Isles. The Highlands contains the highest point in the British Isles: Ben Nevis, part of the Grampian Mountains. The mountain stretches 4,406 feet up. It is a common ambition of climbers to ascend these [Grampian] hills (Horn, 1998).
Between the hills are narrow valleys known as glens. Below the Highlands is the Central Lowlands. Contradicting its name, the Lowlands consists of a continuous line of hills. The highest point in this region is Ben Cleuch, reaching up 2,363 feet. The southernmost region of Scotland is the Southern Uplands.
Similar to the Highlands, this region is very mountainous; however, the hills are less elevated and less rugged. The hills are more rounded and tend to be grassy. The valleys in this region are a lot wider and less rugged than in the Highlands. The highest summit in the Central Lowlands is Mount Merrick-2,764 feet. Scotland is said to be a country of striking beauty (Horn, 1998).
This nation has many deep glacial lakes that are known locally as lochs. The largest lake in all of Britain is Loch Lomond, about 28 square miles. A famous loch is the Loch Ness, which has been the subject of a centuries-old controversy over an alleged monster in its depths (Horn, 1998). There are also numerous inlets of rivers known as firths. Large rivers enter the sea as firths; they are named for the rivers, such as the Clyde River into the Clyde Firth.
The major rivers of Scotland, although not used for navigation (besides the Clyde River) include the Tay River, which is the longest in Scotland, the Clyde, Forth, Tweed, Dee, and the Spey River. The Scottish climate is similar to the rest of the countries in Great Britain. The average temperatures are as follows: January ranges from 37-39F, depending on the area, and July averages between 57-59F-again depending on the area of the country (Scotland.net, 2000). Typically, the west is warmer than the east in winter months, but temperatures are more equal during the summer. The west also receives the most rainfall-more than 150 inches annually (Horn, 1998).
Often the best weather is found in May and September. These are also the months that the northwest of Scotland is relatively midge free (Scotland.com, 2000). The most common species of trees indigenous to Scotland are oak and conifers-chiefly fir, pine, and larch (Encarta, 1999). There are not many woodland areas in Scotland; the only important forests are in the southern and eastern Highlands. Practically all of the cultivated plants of Scotland were imported from America and the European continent (Encarta, 1999). The largest population of a native mammal to Scotland is the deer.
The most common type is the red deer, found in the Highlands, but the roe deer are also found. Other native mammals include the hare, rabbit, otter, ermine, pine marten, and wildcat. Popular game birds are the grouse, blackcock, ptarmigan, and waterfowl. Scotland is famous for its abundant supply of salmon and trout in streams and lakes (Encarta, 1999). Coal reserves are plentiful in Scotland, as is the rest of the island of Great Britain. The south holds large deposits of zinc. As of the 1970’s, oil has become an important part of Scotland’s economy (Encarta, 1999).
The Population and Culture Scotland has 33 counties and 4 major cities. These cities are: Glasgow, the largest in Scotland and third largest in Great Britain with a population of over one million, also the country’s industrial center; Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and cultural center; Aberdeen, and Dundee. The total population of the nation is an estimated 5.2 million, which is roughly 9.5% of the United Kingdom (Horn, 1998). The population density is about 169 people per square mile (Encarta, 1999); however, the population is very unevenly spread. The Central Lowlands holds the most density of people. The breakdown of urban and rural population is 66% is urbanized, and 34% live in rural areas (Scotland.net, 2000).
The official language of Scotland is English. The Scottish form of Gaelic is also spoken, but by fewer than 100,000, and by mainly inhabitants of the Highlands and island groups (Encarta, 1999). The official state church is the Church of Scotland, which is the Presbyterian religion. The Roman Catholic Church is second important. The religion is broadly divided between Presbyterian and Catholic.
Other religions common in Scotland consist of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist, and Unitarian. Jews make up a small minority (Encarta, 1999). The Clan system no longer exists in Scotland, even though a sense of it is still evident. It is a normal feature of primitive communities to base society on the family and kin (Horn, 1998). Tartans are commonly associated with clans.
A plaid fabric characterizes clans . This dates back to the 18th century. Scottish dishes in the past have lead to many health problems, including heart disease and bad dental hygiene. Some of these traditional foods are haggis, which is a pudding, containing organ meats of a sheep or calf boiled within the stomach of the animal (Horn, 1998). Soups are a Scottish specialty as well, the best known being broth, which is a thick soup made with mutton or beef, vegetables, and barley, and also cock-a-leekie, which is made with a fowl and lots of leeks.
Black and white pudding, made from oatmeal, suet and onions is also popular. Fish is a common meal as well. Salmon, sea trout and haddock are commonly made in many different, appetizing ways. Scottish breweries make very good beer that is exported, but the biggest drink exported is Scotch whisky. It is made in large quantities for export, but is also drunk in the home often.
The only public holiday in Scotland is New Year’s Day. All towns have local trade holidays that vary in different regions. Banks and offices also close on certain days, while most retailers and visitor attractions stay open (Scotland.com, 2000). Bagpipes are traditionally associated with Scotland, but were actually introduced to this nation by the Romans, who had acquired them in the Middle East. There are no standard folk tunes in Scotland, because there may be hundreds of variations in lyrics and music for a single song (Encarta, 1999).
Popular sports in Scotland include curling and golf. Curling actually originated in Scotland in the early 1500’s. Golf is also a sport that came from Scotland, around the 14th or 15th century (Encarta, 1999). The Economy More than three-fourths of Scotland’s land is used for agriculture. This field of work employs roughly 68,000 people.
The most important crops are wheat, oats and potatoes. Other crops include barley, turnips, and fruit. Livestock is also a major importance to Scotland. Sheep are raised mostly in the Highlands and groups of islands. Scotland is known for is beef and dairy cattle.
Dairy products are also eminent. Fishing is more important than forestry in Scotland. The major fishing ports are Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, and Lerwick. Principal minerals of Scotland incorporate limestone, clay and silica, but coal is the chief mineral. Coal reserves are plentiful in Scotland, as is the rest of the island of Great Britain. The south holds large deposits of zinc.
As of the 1970’s, oil has become an important part of Scotland’s economy (Horn, 1998). Major oil refineries are located in Dundee and Grangemouth. About 36% of the labor force is employed in manufacturing (Encarta, 1999). Shipbuilding, iron and steel making, and the manufacture of electronic items are major industries. Woolen textiles, chemicals, vehicles, papermaking, and whisky are other essential manufactures. Scotch whisky owes its popularity in part to a slow aging process and its distinctive spring water (Horn, 1998).
About 30,000 miles of highways and about 4000 miles of railroads serve as transportation routes in Scotland. Public buses are a popular form of transportation. The biggest airport in Scotland is located near Glasgow, called the Prestwick Airport. Most of the forms of communication, such as radio and television originate in England. As of 1999, Scotland publishes 17 daily newspapers, and 120 weekly newspapers.
Although not a major part of its economy, Scotland does attract a great deal of tourists. About 4.25 million people from other countries of Great Britain vacation here each year, and nearly 700,000 visit from overseas. Common activities include skiing, mountaineering, angling, sailing and golf (Horn, 1998). The Government The government of Scotland is the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 72 members in the House of Commons represent Scotland. 16 Scots are represented in the House of Lords.
In 1999, Scotland elected its own parliament and started meeting in 2000. There are 129 members. It takes over the responsibilities once held by the secretary of state for Scotland, such as education, health local government, the environment, economic development, the arts, and also have limited authority over taxation. The Parliament in London continues to control foreign affairs, defense, welfare, and employment policies. Bibliography Bibliography Encarta Encyclopedia.
[CD-ROM] Microsoft, 1999. Horn, David B., et al. Scotland. Encyclopedia Americana. 1998. Volume 24.
Scotland. (Online) Available at http://www.scotland.net Scotland. (Online) Available at http://www.scotland.com Geography.