Scotland, former kingdom now part of the United Kingdom. It is bounded by England in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the north and west, and the North Sea in the east.
Covering northern Britain and the Hebrides, Orkney, and Shetland islands, Scotland is 30,414 sq mi (78,772 sq km) in area. It is divided into 3 main land regions: the Highlands, the Central Lowlands, and the Southern Uplands. Great Britain's highest peak, Ben Nevis (4,406 ft/1,343 m) is located in the Highlands. Scotland's most important river is the River Clyde.
Over 50% of the population is urban; major cities include Edinburgh, the capital and cultural center; Glasgow, the industrial center; Aberdeen; and Dundee. English is spoken everywhere, but some 77,000 Scots in the northwest also speak Gaelic.
Scotland was one of the first industrialized countries; its economy rests on iron and steel, aluminum, shipbuilding, chemicals, North Sea oil, and the whiskey industry. Agriculture, mainly grain, sheep and cattle, and fishing are also important.
Scotland's original inhabitants were the Picts, displaced by the Scots, Britons, and Angles. United under Kenneth I MacAlpin (9th century A.D.) the country maintained an embattled independence from England, ensured by Robert the Bruce (Robert I; r. 1306–29). A brief Renaissance under James IV (r. 1488–1513) ended in disaster at Flodden Field. In the turmoil of the Reformation, James VI (James I of England) united the crowns of Scotland and England, but union of government came only in 1707. It was widely resented, and England fueled this by attacking Scottish autonomy and prosperity; this helped incite the two Jacobite rebellions (1715 and 1745). A great cultural rebirth followed, but also the hardships of the Industrial Revolution and Highland depopulation for sheep farming. Devolution (i.e., greater autonomy) was defeated by referendum vote in 1979, although there continued to be a movement for greater autonomy. As a result of a referendum in 1997 Scotland received greater autonomy, such as a parliament and a greater say regarding the levy of taxes. Parliamentary elections will most likely be held in 1999.
See also: United Kingdom.