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Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain.
It shares a border with England to the south and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the south-west. In addition to the mainland, the country is made up of more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
Edinburgh, the country’s capital and second-largest city, 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 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.
The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707.
By inheritance in 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms.
Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain.
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 1707 union.
The Scottish National Party, which supports Scottish independence, won an overall majority in the 2011 general election. An independence referendum held on 18 September 2014 rejected independence by a majority of 55% to 45% on an 85% voter turnout.
Scotland has a western style open mixed economy closely linked with the rest of Europe and the wider world.
Traditionally, the Scottish economy has been dominated by heavy industry underpinned by shipbuilding in Glasgow, coal mining and steel industries.
Petroleum related industries associated with the extraction of North Sea oil have also been important employers from the 1970s, especially in the north east of Scotland.
In 2012, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were estimated to be £26 billion, of which 59% (£15.4 billion) were attributable to manufacturing.
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. Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including oil and gas produced in Scottish waters, was estimated at £150 billion for the calendar year 2012.
Whisky is probably the best known of Scotland’s manufactured products. 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.
Tourism is also widely recognised as a key contributor to the Scottish economy. 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.
In February 2012, the Centre for Economics and Business Research concluded that “Scotland receives no net subsidy” from the UK, as greater per capita tax generation in Scotland balanced out greater per capita public spending.
More recent data, from 2012–13, show that Scotland generated 9.1% (£53.1bn; this included a geographical share of North-Sea, oil revenue – without it, the figures were 8.2% and £47.6bn) of the UK’s tax revenues and received 9.3% (£65.2bn) of spending. Scotland’s public spending deficit in 2012–13 was £12bn, a £3.5bn increase on the previous year; over the same period, the UK’s deficit decreased by £2.6bn.
Over the past thirty years, Scotland contributed a relative budget surplus[clarification needed] of almost £20 billion to the UK economy.
The import of many plants and plant products from non-EU countries is prohibited or restricted, to prevent the introduction of pests.
Importers must ensure that consignments are accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the plant health authority of the country of origin.
This will need to be checked by a plant health inspector before the consignment can be cleared by Customs.
All consignments should be notified to Horticulture and Marketing Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org at least 3 days before arrival. For fuller details refer to the
Despite its small size, Scotland has many treasures crammed into its compact territory – big skies, lonely landscapes, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood and hospitable, down-to-earth people.
Scotland harbours some of the largest areas of wilderness left in Western Europe, a wildlife haven where you can see golden eagles soar above the lochs and mountains of the northern Highlands, spot otters tumbling in the kelp along the shores of the Outer Hebrides, and watch minke whales breach through shoals of mackerel off the coast of Mull.
It’s also an adventure playground where you can tramp the tundra plateaus of the Cairngorms, balance along tightrope bridges strung between the rocky peaks of the Cuillin, sea-kayak among the seal-haunted isles of the Outer Hebrides, and take a speedboat ride into the surging white water of the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
- Most historic sites are maintained either by the National Trust of Scotland or by Historic Scotland. Both offer memberships (with free priority access and other discounts) for a year or a lifetime – and have reciprocal arrangements with their English and Welsh equivalents.
- Historic Scotland. Sites and prices, yearly membership starts at £34 adult, £65 family (properties include Edinburgh and Stirling Castles).
- Historic Scotland also offers a 3-day Explorer Pass edit
the National Trust of Scotland -sites and prices, yearly membership starts at £33 adult, £54 family (properties include Craigievar and Crathes Castles, numerous wilderness areas)
- Spectator sport: Football is easily the most popular spectator sport. That said, most teams rarely play to full houses, therefore if you are in Scotland between mid-August and mid-May you should be able to obtain tickets for a match.
- Rugby union is popular, nowhere more so than in the Borders region. The indigenous game of shinty is played mostly in the Highlands during the summer months.