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Scotland occupies the northern third of the UK mainland and is the second largest of the home nations or countries that make up the UK. It also includes over one hundred islands, mostly archipelagos namely the Outer Hebrides, Inner Hebrides, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. Scotland shares a 96 km (60 miles) land border with England in the south and the Irish Sea separates it from Northern Ireland in the west. It also braces the Atlantic Ocean in the north and the North Sea in the east. Scotland is home to 5.4 million people who prefer to call themselves Scot or Scottish rather than British. Furthermore, Scotland has the highest degree of self-government among the four home nations.

People & Culture

Scottish culture is distinct from the rest of the UK and the people have a strong regional identity and nationalistic pride. English is the administrative language and widely spoken across Scotland. However, Scottish Gaelic is the traditional language of the Highlands and Western Isles while Scots is the traditional language of the Lowlands. The English spoken in Scotland has a noticeable Scottish accent, which some visitors might find unintelligible. If faced in such a situation politely ask the person to speak slowly. You will find most Scots to be helpful, friendly and welcoming.

Scottish Highland Festival by liz west

Scotland as a Travel Destination

Visitors will discover Scotland has a rich culture that continues to flourish and obvious in many areas including its foods, festivals, traditional music and attire. Edinburgh is the capital while Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. Both are thriving and cosmopolitan yet rich in history that is evident from the architecture. Beyond the cities, Scotland is a beautiful country renowned for its dramatic scenery of rolling mountains, scenic valleys, woodlands, green fields, rugged coastline and spectacular islands. Golf began in Scotland and today a golf heaven with over 500 golf courses here.

Scottish Highlands by Renata

Major Destinations in Scotland

  • Aberdeen is Scotland's third largest city and known as the ‘Granite City’ for its gothic architecture. The city has a large port and the departure point for ferries to the Orkney and Shetland islands.
  • Edinburgh is located on the east coast of Scotland's Central Lowlands. It is the capital of Scotland and an impressive city featuring imposing landmarks, historical buildings and international festivals.
  • Glasgow sits on the banks of the Clyde River. It is the largest city in Scotland and once economically depressed but urban redevelopment has transformed Glasgow into a prosperous city.
  • Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands and is the administrative centre and transport hub of the region. The city draws tourists attracted to the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
  • The Orkney Islands are an archipelago of islands situated off the northern tip of the Scottish mainland. The islands feature ancient sites, village towns, nature and coastal scenery.
  • The Shetland Islands are an archipelago of over one hundred islands situated about 170 km (110 miles) north of mainland Scotland. The Shetlands are most northerly outpost in the UK. 

Settlement of Lerwick in the Shetlands by genevieveromier

Transport in Scotland

Scotland has a well-developed infrastructure that includes airports and an extensive network of good roads, railway links and bus routes. The main airports are Glasgow Airport and Edinburgh Airport serving both international and domestic flights. There are regular ferry services linking the Scottish mainland with the islands off the coast but air travel provides faster connections. Scotland’s railway integrates with the railway in England under the UK’s National Rail network. Within Scotland, trains provide fast connections but coaches or long distance express buses are cheaper with Scottish Citylink and Megabus being the major operators. Driving is a great way to see the remote areas but the roads through the mountains are winding.

Edinburgh Airport by Kim Traynor

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