IntroductionScotland is not just an extension of England - it is a proudly independent country with areas of wild coastland, high moorlands, remote villages, islands and snow-capped mountains. The bigger cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh are well known for their historical and cultural sights as well as for their vibrant nightlife.
Places to go in Scotland
HistoryAlthough Scotland became part of Britain after the 1707 Treaty of Union, there has always been a strong sense of national independence and regaining full independence from England has always been the aim of many Scots. In 1999, Scotland did achieve a greater degree of autonomy from the UK Government, when, for the first time in 300 years, it regained its own Parliament. The Scottish Parliament has power over matters such as education, health and some areas of taxation. However, the UK Government is still in control of defence and foreign policy.
PoliticsThe largest parties are the Scottish National Party, who campaign for full Scottish independence and the Labour party with the Conservatives historically doing less well north of the border. First Minister Alex Salmond (SNP) leads a minority government. Before him, Jack McConnell (Labour) was First Minister; the government was then formed on a coalition basis with the Liberal Democrats. Other parties that are currently represented in the parliament are the Conservative and the Unionist Party and the Scottish Greens.
The main political debate in Scotland revolves around the constitutional question. Now the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status is over whether the Scottish Parliament should get additional powers or seek to obtain full independence.
GeographyScotland is located in the north-west of Europe and covers one third of the north of the island of Great Britain and over 790 islands.
Scotland's only land border is shared with England, running over 96 kilometres from the Solway Firth in the west to the North Sea on the east coast. The North Channel separates the island of Ireland from the Scottish mainland.
Scotland’s landscape is characterized by a geological rock fracture (Highland Boundary Fault) which separates two rather different physiographic regions: the Highlands in the north and west and the lowlands in the south and east. The Highland region is more rugged and contains most of Scotland's mountainous terrain, including Ben Nevis, which is the highest peak. In the south of Scotland, there are the lowland areas, which are flatter and home to most of the population.