Scotland is the second largest country of the United Kingdom. It is about three-eighths the size of its larger neighbour England, but is much less populous; most of the population lives in the central belt, a band across central Scotland between the capital Edinburgh and the city of Glasgow. Other cities are Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.
|Monarch||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Prime Minster||Gordon Brown MP|
|Secretary of State||Des Browne MP|
|First Minister||Alex Salmond MSP|
Scotland is historically Christian; the national church is the Church of Scotland
Scotland includes the island groups of Orkney, Shetland, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the islands of the Firth of Clyde including Arran, Bute, Cumbrae & Wee Cumbrae, the St. Kilda archipelago, Rockall and various other smaller islands.
Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, is in the Scottish Highlands, as are most of the nation's highest mountains. Those with heights above 3000 feet are eponymously named Munros after Sir Hector Munro, the first person to compile a list of such mountains.
In the year 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel and sent the Ten Tribes of Israel into exile. The British historian Bede describes how the Scots had arrived in Ireland (at the time known as Scotia) after journeying from Scythia in longboats, and were from there travelled on to Scotland (which they called Alban - Alba is still the Gaelic name for Scotland). Ancient Scottish art attributed to a people now called Picts shows characteristics peculiar to Scythian art. After the Crucificxtion, Christ's apostle Andrew, came to Scotland to preach to these descendants of the Scythians. St. Andrew then became the patron saint of Scotland, the Scottish flag incorporating the Cross of Saint Andrew. The Scots crowned their Kings on the Stone of Destiny, the stone that Jacob used as a pillow when he had a dream in which he saw a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending (Genesis 28:10-22).
The Romans never managed to conquer the Scots, and after a brief period when the Antonine Wall between the Firths of Forth and Clyde was the Roman Empire’s northern frontier, they drew back and had Hadrian’s Wall as the frontier. In spite of this, there was interaction between the Scots and Romans. Many Scots leaving to serve the Roman empire, such as Pontius Pilate, who was born in the hamlet of Fortingall. Pontius Pilate was related to the Scots King, Metallanus. At the the time Metallanus was on good terms with the government of Caesar in Rome. Pilate first went to Rome and was later appointed the Roman Procurator of Judea. To this day, the Royal Scots, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army claim descendance from Pontius Pilate's bodyguard. There still exists at Caesaria in Palestine, an ancient stone slab which is called the Pilate Stone, upon on which is inscribed in Latin "Hiberieum Pontius Pilatus". The Romans referred to northerly regions of the British Isles as Hibernia.
From the late 13th century the Kingdom of England began to threaten Scotland's indpendence. The Scots presenting the Pope with the Declaration of Arbroath stating their intention, to remain free, reiterating their right to do so as descendants of the Scythians, one of the exiled Ten Tribes.
- "Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous."
- "...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."
Scotland's independence was finally secured by the brave deeds of the knight William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn.
By the 16th century many Scots had come to mistrust the rule of Rome and the false doctrines and malpractices within the Roman Catholic Church. Most, led by John Knox, joined the Protestant Reformation that had been inspired by Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenburg Germany. This struggle for religious dignity was not easy and the wrath of Rome was both bloody and brutal. Many Scots Martyrs to the faith, such as Patrick Hamilton, Walter Myln and George Wishart were murdered by Roman Catholics and are commemorated to this day at the Martyrs' Monument. Scotland was finally liberated from the yoke of Rome in 1560 with the establishment of the Presbyterian Church.
England also broke from Rome but this had little to do with abhorrence at the false doctrines and malpractices of the Roman catholic Church but was motivated by King Henry VIII's lust for women, with which even the Pope was appalled, refusing to allow him to divorce wives which he no longer wished to have. Henry had them murdered instead so he could remarry. He finally split with Rome over the issue forming the Anglican Church of England, of which he was head. Anglican practices remained similar to those of Rome and in Recent years many Anglicans have rejoined the Church of Rome.
Being English, this new church set out to control religious matters in Scotland, insisting the King of England have supremacy over the Church of Scotland. The protestant Scots would have none of that, knowing that the only true authority is the Bible, not Popes or Kings. In Scotland the Bible was made available to all by its publication in the common language and universal education enabling everyone to read it themselves. Once again having to defend their religious dignity against corrupt zealots, the Scottish Coventanters made great sacrifices against the ensuing English blood-lust and brutality. An insprational example being John Brown who was murdered outside his cottage home in the presence of his wife, Isabel, and two children. Eventually, the Scots ensured their religious dignity.
Union with England
After the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended to the Throne of England, becoming James I of England. He was the first monarch to call himself King of Great Britain. This is referred to as the Union of the Crowns. James was also at this time King of Ireland.
The Parliaments of Scotland and England were not united until 1707 and it is this date that is recognized as the formation of Great Britain. This is referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. (The United Kingdom was to come into being with the addition of Ireland in 1801.)The formation of the Irish Free State in 1922 resulted in the current name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scotland has its own Parliament of 129 members as well as sending 59 Members of Parliament(MPs) to represent its interests in the United Kingdom parliament which sits in London. Scottish MPs have historically been recognized for their political skills and appointed to the Cabinet in larger numbers than is proportionate. The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is Scottish, and formerly he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Relationships between Scottish and English MPs before devolution were sometimes tense because of what the former Conservative Party MP, by then an Ulster Unionist, Enoch Powell dubbed The West Lothian question. The name arose in 1977 after Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for West Lothian in Scotland, asked during a debate in the Houses of Parliament over Scottish and Welsh devolution:
For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable members tolerate... at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on British politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
He pointed out that he as MP for West Lothian could vote on matters affecting English constituencies but not his own constituency.
Scotland, like many developed countries, has a great number of social and ethical challenges as church attendance has plummeted to an all-time low. Currently some 40% of births are to unmarried mothers, the trend being upwards. In 2003/4 there were 7.5 conceptions per 1000 for 13-15 year olds and 68.2 conceptions per 1000 for 16-19 year olds with over 50% of the 13-15 year olds being pressured into abortion. . In Scotland, 93% of men and 87% of women aged 16-74 drink alcohol. The proportion of public school pupils aged 12-15 who had had an alcoholic drink in the previous week has risen in the last decade from 14% in 1990 to 21% in 2000. Death rates from alcohol have risen over 100% between 1990 and 2000, the rates for women being nearer 200%. Abuse of illegal drugs is also increasing rapidly. 
Scotland has four major cities. They are Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Inverness and Stirling were granted city status recently but are in fact smaller than some of the larger Scottish towns like Paisley and Perth.
Sports and culture
The national preoccupation, indeed obsession, is football (soccer). Other diversions include rugby, lawn bowls, motorsports, horseracing, shinty (similar to hockey), curling, sports of the Highland Games - such as tossing the caber and, of course, golf - Scotland is the home of golf. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews is the governing body of world golf.
Scotland is famous for its disproportionate amount of inventions and discoveries (as immortalized in Wha's Like Us), its world class universities, the Scottish Enlightenment, being the one of the first industrial nations while still preserving some of the last great wildernesses of Europe, and being the home of golf.
The symbol of Scotland is the thistle. The Scottish flag is the Cross of St. Andrew, a white diagonal cross on a dark blue background. The design originated in the 9th century and it is the oldest national flag still in use anywhere in the world. Other things associated with the country are kilts (tartan skirtlike garments worn by Scotsmen), and the haunting music of the bagpipes. Famous Scottish products include pies, haggis and Scotch whisky.
Also see Category:Scottish Culture.
- for a complete list of Munros see http://www.sol.co.uk/d/dickwall/munroes.htm
- Revealing the Lost Ten Tribes Amongst Western Peoples
- Saint Andrew the Apostle
- The Once-Heroic Church in Scotland
- Church attendance is just over 7% of Scottish adults. In 1962 Scotland had 26,015 baptisms. In 1998, there were only 9,951.
- Teenage pregnancy]
- Statistics on Alcohol in Scotland
- Drug abuse increasing