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Interesting Facts for Visitors to Scotland

Updated on October 5, 2011

Scotland is perched on the outer rim of Europe; Scotland forms the northern part of Great Britain and is about two-thirds the size of England and Wales which occupy the remaining portion. It is surrounded by sea on three sides: to the west and north by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the North Sea. Its only land border, that with England, runs for approximately 60 miles (96 km) along the line of the Cheviot Hills. Scotland is a similar size to the Czech Republic and contains the northern third of the land mass of Great Britain. Scotland has over 790 islands with the main areas being the Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides islands.

The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, one of Europe’s largest financial centres and the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. It’s largest city Glasgow was once a leading industrial city.

Scotland’s legal system is separate from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has maintained its independence with Scots Law, the Scottish education system and the Church of Scotland. This all adds to Scottish culture and the Scottish national identity.

Scotland’s head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom. Scotland has partial self-government and the Scottish Parliament has legislative authority. Scots Law has three types of court with civil, criminal and heraldic courts being responsible for the administration of justice.

Tourism is widely recognised as a key contributor to the country’s economy. Tourists find Scotland's landscape containing dramatic variety, ranging from towering peaks - including the highest mountain in the UK in the north to lush and gently undulating countryside in the south. There are many places to visit within Scotland such as the Stone of Destiny in EdinburghCastle, Loch Ness and its legendary monster and the many castles with and without their ghosts.

Scotland's mountains are amongst its most defining natural features, particularly the Munros, the peaks higher than 3000 feet (914.4 metres) which draw walkers and climbers from throughout the UK and Europe with its beautiful scenery.

Scotland is famed for its mythical monsters, superb angling and inspiration for poets, artists and song-writers. Scotland has produced writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, composers and dancers whose talents have received both national and international acclaim.


Scotland has a rich legacy of strong, unique buildings. Stonework predominates, from the long, low croft houses of the Western Isles to the soft red sandstone that fills the streets of Glasgow. Surrounding countries have also had a substantial influence: some settlements in Orkney and Shetland evoke links with the Norse kingdoms, while the ruined church architecture of the Central Belt and Borders is testimony to a long history of battles with the marauding English.

Scottish music has traditional and modern influences. The great Highland bagpipes, clarsach (hap), fiddle and accordion are traditional instruments. While the traditional forms of dance that are uniquely Scottish, they are known and loved throughout the world have been carried everywhere that the ex-pat Scot settled. The mention of 'Scotland' and 'dance' in the same breath conjures mental pictures of swinging kilts, the 'Highland Fling' and even crossed swords. The stirring sound of the bagpipes is quintessentially Scottish.

The national flag of Scotland is the St Andrews Cross, with St Andrews Day being celebrated on November 30th. Scotland’s floral emblem is the thistle. Visas are not needed to visit Scotland but to study or work there if you are travelling from the USA you will need a visa. You need to apply online on the UK Border Agency website.

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