Scotland is one of the countries which make up the United Kingdom (UK) and accounts for approximately one third by area of the UK land mass. Though there is no passport control, there is a border between Scotland in the north and England, her much larger neighbour to the south. shares a border with England to the south. Within this territory lie almost 800 tiny islands, including Shetland and Orkney, the Hebrides, Arran and Skye. Glasgow is Scotland’s biggest city. Edinburgh is its capital.
Scotland is, by any comparison, small and sparsely populated. Honshu’s Greater Tokyo Area, for example, houses six times more people than the whole of Scotland which has approximately one fifth of the area of Japan. A comparison of population densities between Scotland and Japan, reveals a big difference in the amount of living space available too: In Japan there are 336 people per square kilometre, whereas in Scotland there are only 64.
But in Scotland’s case, size definitely doesn’t matter, because this is a country with an abundance of riches at its disposal and an ability to box well above its weight in the world.
For instance, Scotland is a leader in green energy innovation and its government is determined to achieve high adoption levels for renewable energy. Scotland is responsible for 60% of the UK’s onshore wind capacity?two of Europe’s largest wind farms lie near Glasgow and produce almost 50% of the country’s electricity from renewables.
Scotland also enjoys a wealth of historical riches, stretching as far back as the Stone Age, a fact beautifully evidenced by the prehistoric village of Skara Brae, a structure built before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids which is situated near Stromness on the Scottish island of Orkney.
Scotland has a rich artistic lineage too. It is home to the The Kelpies, the largest pair of equine sculptures in the world.
Kelpies are water spirits of Celtic mythology which take the form of horses. The brainchild of Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, each of these towering creatures comprises 300 tonnes of steel. In a remarkable artistic accomplishment, the sculptor manages to create the impression of solidity while at the same time making the statues appear airy and insubstantial. The sculptures sit in the middle of one of Scotland’s new recreational spaces between the towns of Falkirk and Grangemouth in the valley of the River Forth.
Scotland is home to a vibrant scientific community at the cutting edge of modern research?one of the largest in Europe. It has some of the most stunning scientific achievements to its credit, including involvement in the cloning of Dolly the sheep, MRI scanner development and the discovery of the p53 cancer suppressor gene. Scotland is active in contemporary science too. Only a few days ago, news emerged that Scottish scientists had made a breakthrough in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
They had developed an experimental drug which attacks a protein called CXCR2, a molecule that pancreatic cancer uses to protect itself from the body’s T-Cells allowing the body’s immune system to overwhelm the cancer.
But it isn’t until you consider the roll call of famous scientists born in Scotland that you begin to grasp the enormity of this small country’s disproportionately high scientific output: John Logie Baird, inventor of the television; Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin; James Watt, whose invention of the steam engine kick started the Industrial Revolution; and a list of others who carried out pioneering work in fields as diverse as radar development and geology.
Some attribute Scotland’s contribution to science and the arts to Scotland’s world-class academic sector (Between them our 19 universities generate ￡7.2bn).
Political awareness in Scotland really took off after the 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence, when the people of Scotland were asked to say whether or not they wanted their country to become independent of England. The outcome was truly astonishing. 45% voted to become independent, 55% wanted to stay part of the United Kingdom and for Scotland to remain under the control of the Conservative government in London.
Many Unionist commentators believed that the success of the ‘No’ campaign would crush the idea of Scottish Independence for ever. Extraordinarily, what happened was a surge in membership of the Scottish National Party-the party which is currently governing the Scottish parliament, multiplying the number of party members fourfold.
The excitement that people felt during the referendum has yet to abate and plans are afoot to push for a second referendum in the near future.
All things considered, Scotland is an exciting and beautiful country to live in and to visit. Try to get there at least once in your life-you won’t regret it.