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Scotland, the most northerly of the four parts of the united Kingdom, occupies about one third of the island of Great Britain. It is bounded by England to the South and on the other three sides by sea: the Atlantic ocean on the West and North and by the North sea to the East. Its mainland area is 28,269 square miles. Including inhabited islands, it has an area of 30,418 square miles. The west coast is fringed by deep indentations (sea lochs) and by numerous islands, varying in size from mere rocks to the larger landmasses of the islands of Lewis and Harris, Skye and Mull. The island clusters of the Orkneys and shetlands lie to the North. At its greatest length measured from Cape Wrath to the Mull of Galloway, the mainland of Scotland is 274 miles, and the maximum breadth, measured from Applecross, in the Western highlands to Buchan ness in the East is 154 miles, but because of the deep penetration of Sea lochs most places are within 40 to 50 miles of the sea.

The name of Scotland (in Latin Scotia) derives from the Scots, a Celtic people from Ireland who settled on the West coast in about the 5th century. The name Caledonia has often been applied to Scotland, especially in poetry, it is derived from the Roman name Caledonii, of a tribe in the northern part of what is now Scotland. The Kingdom of the Scots gradually gained control over its neighbours, until by about the 11th Century, they ruled over roughly the modern country's mainland area. Medieval struggles for independence from England were successful, but in 1603 the King of Scots also became the king of England , and in 1707 Scotland's parliament was joined to that of England. Thus Scotland no longer had a separate legislature or executive, nor diplomatic or consular representation abroad and its economy is integrated into that of the rest of Britain. It does however have a separate administration and certain important aspects of national life were preserved at the* Union of the Crowns in 1707, notably its radically different legal and educational systems and its presbyterian national church.

Above all Scotland has retained much of its cultural identity. Superficially, the external perception of this may descend to an image of whiskey drinking, tartan clad Highlanders in mist enshrouded castles looking back to bloody battles and romantic stories, but the tenacity of native culture has a deeper reality : in Political and social attitude distinct from those south of the Border , in the strength of Scottish literature and in a musical and folk tale tradition that survives to the present day. Though Scotlands population is just below 5 million, many more millions abroad proudly claim Scottish descent and keep these traditions alive through many generations.

* On the 25th of March 1707 the Scottish parliament went into recess and power passed to the London Parliament under the act of Union. On May 6th 1999 the Scots voted again for their own Parliament, the first time for nearly 300 years.

"Of all the small nations on this Earth, perhaps only the Ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind"

                                                                                    Winston Churchill.


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