Scotland is one of four countries that comprise the United Kingdom. Located on the Island of Great Britain, Scotland is made up of over 790 islands as well as the northern third of the mainland. Up until 1707, the Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state, independent of England. The Treaty of Union was passed by the Parliaments of both kingdoms, on the 1st of May, creating a United Kingdom of Great Britain. Viewed by regions, today's Scotland is a diverse country with sweeping countryside and bustling cities.
Southern Scotland, the Borders, is rich in history and natural beauty. With views of the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man it is not surprising that Robert Burns met his muse here, as did Sir Walter Scott, amid the beaches and links. Here, it's not just the accent that is different from England, but the beer and landscape. Fishing and golf add to the draw of the outdoors.
Edinburgh, the capital and second largest city, is a great financial centre. Aside from it being a financial Mecca, the city is fascinating in itself. The medieval grandeur of Edinburgh Castle and Old Town is on one side of the valley and Princes Street and New Town, with its Georgian architecture, is on the other.
Glasgow, a teeming metropolis of over 1.5 million people, is easily Scotland's largest city. Once a shipbuilding hub, Glasgow is now a shopper's paradise. Argyll, Buchanan, and Sauchiehall Streets comprise one of the UK's largest retail quarters, second only to London's West End.
Central Scotland boasts the lovely banks of Loch Lomond, thick pine forests and the coasts of Mull, Islay and Campbeltown. Stirling Castle rises high on its hilltop with three centuries of stories to tell of Scotland's wars and kings. The Wallace Monument can be found in the region as well, giving tribute to more of Scotland's bloody past. This central region is the home to much of the world's ideas regarding Scotland. William Wallace and Rob Roy can trace roots to Perthshire, as can Mary Queen of Scots. Fife is home to beautiful beaches while St. Andrews is the birthplace of the game of golf.
North East Scotland boasts more castles than anywhere else in the UK. Distilleries and fly-fishing are also abundant here. The North Sea Oil and Gas Industry is the economic king here, giving new life to Aberdeen.
The Highlands and Western Isles are the epitome of Scotland. The Outer Hebrides is as varied as volcanic rock to the east and golden sand to the west. The Inner Hebrides offer the beauty of the Isles of Skye, Iona and Mull, all with their rugged terrain and beautiful beaches. On the mainland, the Highlands provide a vast range of activities for the outdoor enthusiast: From walking to mountain biking; dolphin-spotting to skiing.
Shetland and Orkeny Islands were Norse colonies for centuries. On Orkney, you will find the Neolithic site of Skara Brae, a preserved prehistoric village. The Shetlands have a long history of local crafts that take their inspiration from the striking scenery and shared heritage.
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