Scotland has since 1707 been a part of Great Britain,
together with Northern Ireland, Wales and England. The country is 78 789 square kilometres,
and consists of nine regions plus the outer islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh (pop. 440 000) whereas Glasgow (pop. 685 000) is
the largest city. The distance between these two cities is only 50 km, and in this area lives a large share of
the country´s total population of 5 million. When it comes to scenery, Scotland is distinguished from the rest of Great
Britain mainly by the mountain scenery, the lochs and brooks and the dramatic coastline. Scotland has Britain´s
highest mountain (Ben Nevis, 1343 mtrs), largest lake (Loch Lomond, 70 sq km) and deepest lake
(Loch Ness, 229 mtrs). Not to mention Britain´s most famous seamonster.
Scotland´s climate is not quite as bad as one would imagine. It´s certainly better
than its reputation. On the other hand Scotland is hardly the country to visit if you´re just looking to get a tan...
Generally speaking, the west coast is during summer noticeably wetter, breezier and cooler than the rest of the country.
On the Western Isles, a yearly average of 250 to 270 days with mist, rain or snow has been recorded.
During the winter though, the western parts of the country is favoured by a milder climate due to the influence of
the Gulf Stream. Not even the northernmost parts of Scotland can be sure of snow more than a couple of weeks during winter.
The industry was previously dominated by heavy industries
such as mining, steelworks and shipbuilding. Like so many other countries Scotland has been forced to
restructure their industry due to the decreasing number of jobs in the heavy industry.
Today much of the manufacturing industry is aimed at electronics and office equipment.
The Northern Sea oil industry has also been a significant source for jobs, but in spite of this
unemployment is high in Scotland. Farming is dominated by stock and sheep farming
in the Highlands and milk production in the south. Fishery is of great importance and around 2/3 of
Great Britain´s total catch is landed at scottish ports. Whiskyproduction and tourism are
two of today´s rapidly expanding industries.
The language situation in Scotland is quite complex.
Three language varieties exist in the country; to begin with scottish english, which is really
an english dialect with a regional accent. This is the dialect we usually hear in BBC-series whenever
there´s a scotsman present. Then we have another variety of english with a much older origin.
This is scots or lallans which springs from the old Anglo-Saxon. Scots is mainly spoken in
the Lowlands around Glasgow and Edinburgh. Up to the 17th century this was the country´s main literary and documentary language,
but has since been drawn closer to the southern varieties of english. Many still claim, however, that scots
should be described as an independent language and not merely an english dialect. Scottish gaelic
finally, is one of four celtic languages to survive into modern age, the others beeing spoken in
Brittany, Wales and Ireland. Gaelic was introduced in Scotland around 200BC and expanded more and more up to the
12th century when it was spoken all over Scotland. From that point onwards, gaelic began a steady decline.
Today around 2% of the population, that is 80 000 people, speak gaelic, mainly on the Western Isles.
Recently gaelic has undergone something of a renaissance, following the introduction of bilingual
schools and an increase of the broadcasting of gaelic-language programmes.