Scotland is a historically and culturally separate country from England. It has its own legal
and educational systems and currency (the value is the same but banknotes have different
design). Since 1999 they have had their own Parliament in Ediburgh, too. (Scotland’s first
Parliament after nearly 300 years. The new Parliament and Executive were established
following a referendum of the Scottish people in 1997. The 129 Members of the Scottish
Parliament were elected in May 1999 for a fixed four-year term.
Scotland is the country in the north of Great Britain beyond Hadrian’s Wall and it is part of
the UK. It is divided into three natural regions: the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands
and the Highlands and islands.
A lot of places in Scotland are a natural paradise, still untouched by man. The landscape is
very attractive with glens (narrow deep valleys), wild mountains and deep lochs. The capial
is Edinburgh, well known for its castle and for the Edinburgh International Festival which is
held every August. Most of Scotland’s 5 million inhabitants live in Edinburgh, Glasgow and
Aberdeen as this is where most of the jobs are.
Scotland has not always been part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish people had their own
royal family and fought the English for centuries.In 1603 King James VI of Scotland became
King James I of England and Scotland. He moved to London and this ended Scottish
independence (personal union). In 1707, Scotland formally became part of the UK when the
government of Scotland moved to Westminster, in London.
Traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding have declined, but the government
has invested a lot of money in Scotland to develop it as an important European centre of
computer production. Many of the large American and Japanese electronics companies have
set up factories in southern Scotland and there are now many smaller Scottish companies
which specialise in computer equipment. People have even started to call the area “Silicon
In the last 20 years the Scottish economy has benefited from oil and gas drilled from under the
Some traditional industries, such as high-quality tweeds and other textiles, as well as food and
drink, remain important. There are 92 whisky distilleries, and whisky is a major export.
Service industries have expanded and now employ over 70 per cent of workforce.
The typical products of Scotland are: timber, whisky, slamon, bagpipes and tartans.
About 80 per cent of the land area is used for agriculture. Most is grazing land for cattle and
sheep. The main arable crop is barley, which is used for making whisky. Scotland accounts
for over half of Britain’s forest area and just under half of its timber production.
Clans – the Gaelic name meaning extended families. Members of the same clan wear kilts
with the same tartan. (kilt – a special pleated skirt, part of traditional Scottish dress, worn by
men, tartan – a special woolen cloth with checked pattern)
The Loch Ness Monster – Since 1934, thousands of people have claimed to have seen the
monster. Scientists have investigated the loch and taken pictures, but no scientific explanation
of the mystery has been given.
Whisky – the name “whisky“ which means “water of life“ in Gaelic, is used only for Scotch
whisky, i.e. whisky produced in Scotland. If it is produced in Ireland or the USA, it is spelt
Myths and mysteries – every castle has its ghost.
Golf – the Scottish natonal sport and it originated there. They also have their own football
team representing them on championships (the Olympics are the only exception)
Hogmany – 31st Dec. Celebration (Auld Lang Syne “in memory of past times“, written by
Robert Burns, is sung. Haggis, a typical Scottish dish is eaten.
The official language spoken in Scotland is English, of course. Still, Scottish Gaelic, a
language of Celtic origin, is even nowadays spoken by some people.
At the reformation in the 16th century many Scots became Protestants. The Presbyterian
church of Scotland is the main protestant organization.