Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
Location of Scotland (orange)
– on the European continent (camel & white)
– in the United Kingdom (camel)
|Motto: "In My Defens God Me Defend" (Scots)|
|Anthem: None (de jure)
Flower of Scotland, Scotland the Brave, and Scots Wha Hae (de facto)
|Patron Saint(s): Saint Andrew|
|Recognised regional languages||Scottish Gaelic, Scots[a]|
|Ethnic groups||89% Scottish, 7% English, Irish, Welsh,
|Demonym||Scottish or Scots[b]|
|Government||Devolved government within a constitutional monarchy[c]|
|-||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom||David Cameron|
|-||First Minister of Scotland||Alex Salmond|
|Establishment||by King Kenneth MacAlpin|
|-||Acts of Union 1707||1 May 1707|
|-||Acts of Union 1800||1 January 1801|
30,414 sq mi
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||GBP 139.774 billion|
|Currency||Pound sterling (£) (
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
|-||Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
|Date formats||dd/mm/yyyy (AD or CE)|
|Drives on the||left|
|a. ^ English is the official language of the United Kingdom. Both Scottish Gaelic and Scots are officially recognised as autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages; 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.
b. ^ Historically, the use of "Scotch" as an adjective comparable to "Scottish" or "Scots" was commonplace, particularly outwith Scotland. However, the modern use of the term describes only products of Scotland, usually food or drink related.
c. ^ 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. Certain executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh.
d. ^ Also .eu, as part of the European Union. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.
Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a country and formerly independent kingdom in northwest Europe and one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. 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 constitutes over 790 islands including the Northern Isles (Shetland and Orkney) and the Hebrides. Its capital city is Edinburgh.
Previously an independent kingdom, Scotland entered into a personal union with England in 1603, when the King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England following the death of Elizabeth I of England. This union was made formal on May 1, 1707 by the Act of Union. The Scottish Parliament was abolished on March 26, 1707. The union merged both kingdoms, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain, with a new single Parliament sitting in Westminster, London, but some aspects of Scotland's institutions, notably the country's legal system, remained separate.
In 1801, Scotland became one of four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, along with England, Ireland (later Northern Ireland) and Wales. In 1999, the people of Scotland voted to create a new parliament, established by the UK government under the Scotland Act 1998. The new devolved Scottish Parliament has been given powers to govern the country on Scotland-specific matters and has limited power over taxes. Scotland's territorial extent is generally that established by the 1237 Treaty of York between Scotland and England and the 1266 Treaty of Perth between Scotland and Norway. Exceptions include the Isle of Man, which is now a crown dependency outside the United Kingdom, Orkney and Shetland, which are Scottish rather than Norwegian, and Berwick-upon-Tweed, which was defined as subject to the laws of England by the 1746 Wales and Berwick Act.
The written history of Scotland largely began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. Part of southern Scotland was briefly, indirectly controlled by Rome. To the north was territory not governed by the Romans—Caledonia, inhabited by the Picts, with the Gaels of Dál Riata in Argyll who originated from Ireland and migrated to western Scotland. It is from these people that the names "Scotland" and "Scottish" are derived. Scoti being the common Late Latin term for the Irish Gaels: Ireland was usually referred to in Latin as Scotia Major while Scotland was referred to as Scotia Minor. By the 11th century at the latest, Scotia was being used solely to refer to Gaelic-speaking Scotland north of the river Forth, alongside Albania or Albany, both derived from the Gaelic Alba. Pictland became dominated by the Pictish sub-kingdom of Fortriu. The Scottish Saltire is believed to have been adopted by King Óengus II in 832 of Pictland after a victory in battle over the Northumbrians at Athelstaneford. The Kingdom of Scotland is traditionally dated from 843, when Kenneth MacAlpin, or Kenneth I of Scotland, became King of the Picts and Scots.
In the following centuries, the Kingdom of the Scots expanded to something closer to modern Scotland. The period was marked by comparatively good relations with the Wessex rulers of England, intense internal dynastic disunity and, despite this, relatively successful expansionary policies. Sometime after an invasion of Strathclyde by King Edmund of England in 945, the province was handed over to King Malcolm I. During the reign of King Indulf (954-962 AD), the Scots captured the fortress later called Edinburgh, their first foothold in Lothian. The reign of Malcolm II saw fuller incorporation of these territories. The critical year was perhaps 1018, when King Malcolm II defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Carham.
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 initiated a chain of events which started to move the Kingdom of Scotland away from its originally Gaelic cultural orientation. King Malcolm III married Margaret the sister of Edgar Ætheling the deposed Anglo-Saxon claimant to the throne of England, who subsequently received some Scottish support. When their youngest son, David I later succeeded, Scotland gained something of its own "Norman Conquest." Having previously become an important Anglo-Norman lord through marriage, David I was instrumental in introducing feudalism into Scotland and in encouraging an influx of settlers from the Low Countries to the burghs to enhance trading links with continental Europe. By the late 13th century, scores of Norman and Anglo-Norman families had been granted Scottish lands.
From a classical historical viewpoint Scotland seemed a peripheral country, slow to gain advances filtering out from the Mediterranean fount of civilisation, but as knowledge of the past increases it has become apparent that some developments were earlier and more advanced than previously thought, and that the seaways were very important to Scottish history. The country's lengthy struggle with England, its more powerful neighbour to the south, was the cause of the Wars of Scottish Independence, forcing Scotland to rely on trade, cultural and often strategic ties with a number of European powers, most notably France. In these, the Scots repudiated the English king's assertions of paramountcy.
After the death of Margaret, Maid of Norway, last direct heir of Alexander III of Scotland, Scotland's nobility asked Edward I, King of England, to adjudicate between rival claimants to the vacant Scottish throne. John Balliol was chosen as king, having the strongest claim in feudal law, but Edward used the concessions he gained to undermine and then depose King John. The Scots resisted under the leadership of Sir William Wallace and Andrew de Moray in support of John Balliol, and later under that of Robert the Bruce. Bruce, crowned as King Robert I of Scotland in 1306, won a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. 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, but warfare flared up again after his death during the Second War of Scottish Independence from 1332 to 1357 in which Edward Balliol unsuccessfully attempted to win back the throne from Bruce's heirs, with the support of the English king. Eventually, with the emergence of the Stewart (later spelled Stuart) dynasty in the 1370s, the situation in Scotland began to stabilise.
From roughly the end of the 14th century, Scotland began to show a split into two cultural areas—the mainly Gaelic-speaking Highlands and the mainly Scots-speaking (and later English-speaking) Lowlands. This caused divisions in the country where the Lowlands remained, historically, more influenced by the English: the Lowlands lay more open to attack by invading armies from the south and absorbed English influence through their proximity to and their trading relations with their southern neighbours, although Scotland had strong trade links with continental Europe also. However, Gaelic persisted in parts of the Lowlands until quite late, notably in Galloway and Carrick up until the late 1700s and possibly the 1800s. It has also been recorded that the areas of Dunblane and Auchterarder were speaking the language after the Reformation. The Highland-Lowland Border has not been static and has moved a number of times.
The clan system of the Highlands formed one of its more distinctive features. Notable clans include Clan MacGregor, Clan MacDonald, Clan MacKenzie, Clan Campbell, Clan Mackie, Clan MacLeod, Clan Robertson, Clan Grant, and others. Historically the Lowlands adopted a variant of the feudal system after the Norman Conquest of England, with families of Norman ancestry providing most of the monarchs after approximately 1100. These families included the Stewart or Stuart, Bruce, Douglas, Porteous, and Murray or Moray families.
In 1603, the Scottish King James VI of the Stuart dynasty inherited the throne of England, and became James I of England. James moved to London, only returning to Scotland once. Although he subsequently styled himself as the King of Great Britain, this was a personal union: the two nations shared a head of state but remained separate kingdoms, with the exception of a brief period when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy and Scotland was under English military occupation. After the "Glorious Revolution" and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic King James VII of Scotland and II of England by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from England.
In 1707, the Scottish and English Parliaments enacted the Acts of Union, which was deeply unpopular in Scotland, that merged the Kingdom of Scotland with the Kingdom of England, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Union dissolved both the English and the Scottish Parliaments, and transferred all their powers to a new Parliament sitting in London which then became the Parliament of the United Kingdom. A customs and monetary union also took place. However, most of Scotland's institutions remained separate, notably the country's legal system and its established church; these distinctions remain to the present day. Two major Jacobite risings launched from the north of Scotland in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the throne. The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst Catholics and other non-Presbyterians.
In 1801, Scotland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, when the Kingdom of Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland. Since 1922, Scotland has been one of the four constituent nations (along with England, Northern Ireland and Wales) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In 1997 the people of Scotland voted to re-establish the Scottish Parliament following a referendum, subsequently established by the UK government under the Scotland Act 1998. Whereas the old Scottish Parliament had functioned as the full parliament of a sovereign state, the new parliament is devolved and governs the country only on domestic matters, the United Kingdom Parliament having retained responsibility for Scotland's defence, international relations and certain other areas.