Scotland is home to bagpipes, haggis, and the Loch Ness Monster! Learn more about this bonnie wee country below.
Facts About Scotland
The Vital Stats:
Official Name: Scotland, Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
Population: 5.5 million (2019)
Area: 77,933 sq km
Sovereign State: United Kingdom
Largest City: Glasgow
National Language: English, Scottish Gaelic
Say Hello: Hello or halò
Currency: Pound Sterling (£)
Driving Side: Left
Anthem: Flower of Scotland (unofficial)
Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity)
Time Zone: UTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
GDP per capita: $42,643 (20th/world)
Human Development Index: 0.901 (very high - 25th in the world)
The Flag of Scotland
DID YOU KNOW?
The flag consists of St Andrew's Cross which is sometimes called a Saltire
A Brief History of Scotland
In prehistoric times, the land of Scotland was attached to North America. Millions of years ago Europe and America separated and the Atlantic Ocean was created in the middle.
A major ice age covered Scotland in thick ice until about 12,000 years ago. When it melted, the first hunter-gatherer people began to arrive.
As the centuries passed, the people began to build houses, villages, and intriguing standing stone circles like the Callanish Stones on Lewis.
During the 1,000 years before the Common Era hundreds of chiefs ruled over their tribes, but in 79 CE the Romans arrived. After a brief victory they retreated south and built Hadrian’s Wall in northern England to defend against the Scots.
After the Romans left, the Kingdom of Scotland took a long time to find peace. There were Vikings in the north and frequent wars with England to the south. In 1286, King Alexander III died and Edward I of England decided the time was right to capture Scotland. What followed was a long war with Scottish heroes such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce eventually saving Scotland.
The Bruces, and then the Stewarts ruled Scotland for the rest of the Middle Ages and the country prospered. Some interesting rulers include:
James IV – invaded England and was killed in battle in 1513
Mary I (Mary Queen of Scots) – was forced to give up her crown and escaped to England. She was executed by her cousin Elizabeth I in 1567
James VI – in 1603 inherited the throne of England and Ireland and became James I and moved to England.
James VI (right) depicted aged 17 beside his mother Mary Queen of Scots (left), 1583. In reality, they were separated when he was still a baby.
After years of squabbling and power-plays between the two countries, in 1707, the Scottish parliament voted to join Scotland and England into one country, the United Kingdom of Britain.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries the Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution turned Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse. Universities flourished, factories expanded, villages became towns, and towns became sprawling cities.
Scotland played a major role for Britain in the first World War but lost over 100,000 men. There was a depression from 1922 until 1939 when World War II broke out and it was heavily bombed by Germany. After the war, Scotland’s economy flat lined for many years. Eventually, industries like oil and gas, banking, and electronics have helped make Scotland’s economy boom once more.
More recently, there have been calls for Scotland to become independent from the United Kingdom, but in 2014 a referendum was held which found that 55% of Scots wanted to remain in the UK.
Our 'TOP SPOTS' Map of Scotland
The Geography of Scotland
Scotland can be found to the north of England and makes up about one-third of the whole United Kingdom.
Scotland was covered by massively thick ice sheets up until about 12,000 years ago. Now, Scotland has three distinct land types:
The Highlands and Islands in the north and west which have a lot of mountains and freshwater lakes. Scotland has over 790 islands!
The Central Lowlands are a relatively low lying area in the middle of the country. It was once very volcanic.
The Southern Uplands is a range of mountains in the south that runs for about 200 kilometres.
The climate in Scotland is very changeable and it has recorded some of the coldest temperatures in the UK. In general, the highlands tend to have the most rain and snow.
The major lakes (lochs) in Scotland are Loch Lomond 71 sq km, Loch Ness 57 sq km, and Loch Awe 39 sq km. The major rivers in Scotland are River Tay 190 km, River Spey 172 km, and the River Clyde 171 km.
Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Highlands of Scotland made famous as they used this location as the Hogwarts Express route in the Harry Potter films!
DID YOU KNOW?
The Fortingall Yew tree in Perthshire is between 2,000 and 3,000 years old!
Scotland has many kinds of habitats, so it is home to many different types of animals! In the mountains you might see ptarmigan, mountain hares, and stoats. In the pine forests lives the crossbill, the UK’s only native bird. You might also spot the Scottish wildcat, the red squirrel, or the pine martin.
Out in the islands and the sea, Scotland has thousands of species of marine animals. There are seals, and bottlenose dolphins, as well as Atlantic salmon that live in the rivers. Birds of prey like the golden eagle have become national icons of Scotland.
Scotland has vast areas of woodland and moorland. The tallest tree in the UK is a grand fir tree near Loch Fyne, and the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is one of the the oldest trees in Europe.
And of course don't forget the Scottish Lochs (or Lakes) which are more vast than any lakes found in England and Wales. Just Loch Ness alone holds more water than all lakes in England and Wales put together! You can find some very interesting wildlife in the Lochs of Scotland, including otters, osprey, and of courses, if you're lucky you might even spot Nessie!!!
Exploring the coast on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Scottish People
The Scots are a hardy and resourceful people, from the ancient clans of the highlands to the more modern-day intellectuals and scientists. Scottish people have brought to the world advances in ship building, the steam engine, the telephone, the pedal bicycle, the television, animal cloning, and penicillin.
Many famous authors are Scottish including Robert Burns (national poet hero), Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan). Scotland is also home to world champion sports people like Andy Murray (tennis), Sir Chris Hoy (cycling), and Dame Katherine Grainger (rowing).
When you visit Scotland try things that are uniquely Scottish!
Participate in a Highland Games
Try some haggis, and a deep fried mars bar. Wash it all down with an Irn Bru!
Search for Nessie at Loch Ness
Traditional Scottish bagpiper in full dress code at Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven
Fun facts about Scotland
Scottish people have settled all over the world. We bet you know a few Bruces, MacDonalds, Stewarts, Wallaces, or Robertsons!
The official animal of Scotland is… the UNICORN! It’s a Celtic symbol of power and purity.
About one-eighth of Scottish people have red hair, the highest fraction of any country.
The world’s shortest commercial plane ride is in Scotland. The flight between Westray and Papa Westray near Orkney takes just under one minute!
Scotland is the home of golf. It has been played there since the 15th Century. The Old Course at St Andrews dates back to 1552 and is a bit of a pilgrimage for many golfers.
The world’s first colour photo was taken in 1861 using a method invented by Scottish physicist James Maxwell. It was of a tartan ribbon.
In 1826 construction began on a monument to Scottish soldiers on Calton Hill, Edinburgh. Designed to look like the Parthenon in Athens, the project ran out of money three years later and remains there, unfinished.
Haggis is a famous Scottish food made by stuffing minced heart, liver, lungs, onion, oatmeal, suet, salt, and spices into an animal stomach.
These are just a few of our fun facts about Scotland. To get them all, grab your copy of the Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide to Scotland from the shop.
download a sample recipe and activity from the
Scotland: Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide