Scotland is situated in the Northern part of Great Britain. The country is surrounded by many islands, and the mainland is a part of the island of Great Britain. Scotland's first inhabitants were known as Picts, a Celtic tribe. There are over 300 castles in Scotland. Every place in Scotland has some history behind it, and is well-known for its scenic beauty. There are many historic sites like burial chambers, standing stones, sepulchers, and castles of Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.
A twisted yew, is the oldest living tree in Scotland which has been around for 3000 years.
Scotland has about 600 square miles of freshwater lakes. Loch Ness is the largest (by volume) freshwater lake and the most visited place in Scotland, where visitors love to explore the natural beauty, wildlife, and catch a glimpse of Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster. Scotland's climate is seldom hot, varying between the rainy and cold seasons.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the largest financial centers of Europe. Glasgow is the country's second largest and also one of the largest industrial cities in the world. The Scottish economy is dominated by heavy industries, such as steelmaking, shipbuilding, and coal mining.
Scottish people or Scots are an ethnic group indigenous to Scotland. Even today, the vibrant Scottish people proudly uphold their strong traditions. Farmers or crofters, as they are called, live in Highlands and islands of Scotland, which include the Northwestern hilly regions of Scotland. The Scots are very warmhearted and known to have a great sense of humor.
Scottish Kilt Costume
The basis of Scottish clothing is tartan and kilt. A kilt is a traditional dress made of tartan patterns (interlocked horizontal and vertical stripes in multiple colors). The Scottish kilt is worn by both men and women, as a formal dress on special occasions or at Highland games or events.
Scottish Language and Religion
Historically, Scottish people are associated with many different languages such as Pictish, Norse, Norman-French, and Brythonic, but today none of these are in use. Today, Scottish English, a dialect of the English language, is widely spoken.
Judaism was followed in Scotland during the Middle Ages. Most Scottish people follow Christianity; but in recent times, other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are also practiced, mainly through immigration.
Oats, barley, and dairy products are considered as pillars of the rural and urban diet of Scotland. Scottish people are fond of good food. Usually, Scottish people grow their own vegetables and prepare a wide variety of soups and stews; porridge is their staple breakfast. The Scots love to drink tea. The women are known for their cooking and baking skills.
Scotland is renowned all over the world for its famous cheese, shellfish (lobsters and oysters), dairy products, Aberdeen-Angus, a breed of beef cattle known for its rich and tasty meat, and Scotch Whisky. The latter is famous all over the world and brings huge income to Scotland.
Arts and Crafts
Scotland is known for Celtic art, in the form of jewelry, artworks, and silverwork. A celtic cross is a creative symbol of a cross combined with a ring surrounding the intersection. On the Isle of Iona (Scotland's west coast) fantastic, carved stone monuments and crosses were made in the golden age of Celtic art in the early 20th century.
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, known for its fabulous art collections, houses 4000-year-old carved stone balls belonging to the Bronze Age, carvings, and artifacts, ornamental gold objects and religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts from medieval times.
Scotland is famous for its contemporary arts, crafts, sculptures, paintings, and landscapes. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh is home to an outstanding collection of paintings, sculptures, prints, and recent works of artists. The Red Rag, a leading art gallery in UK, promotes the finest art collections of Scottish artists.
Music and Dance
Bagpipers and dancers are a delight to watch at gatherings in Scotland. Highland dances are more difficult to perform and require great stamina and skill. The Highland dances have their base in the ancient folk customs and were earlier performed by only Scottish men; but now they are performed by women as well.
The Highland Fling and the Sword dance are the oldest traditional Highland dances of Scotland. Male warriors performed the dances to celebrate their victory after returning from war. Now, they are performed at national events and dance competitions. One can take a glimpse of Scottish culture at the annual festival called Scottish Highland games.
Scotland has made many contributions to the world of music. MacUmba is a unique group of musicians based in Scotland, who fuse the traditional sounds of Scottish bagpipes with musical rhythms of Brazil. They have played at many events and festivals across the globe, and continue to entertain the audience all over the world. Scottish rock bands like Runrig and Wolfstone, famous for fusion of Celtic folk with rock rhythms, have made a mark on the global map.
Scotland hosts the International Festival of Music and Drama at Edinburgh every year. The music and drama festival has come a long way since it was started in 1947; and today, it is one of the world's largest cultural events.
Every year, Scotland celebrates the Burns an' a' that! festival on the 25th January, the birth anniversary of the national poet of Scotland, Sir Robert Burns. During this festival, fantastic food, dancing, traditional music, literary, and poetry events are organized. The Scottish opera and Scottish ballet are two companies which perform the art traditions in Scotland as well as across the world.
Recently, Tennis has become a popular sport in Scotland. The famous Scottish tennis player Andy Murray has made the country proud by winning major tennis championships. Scots also enjoy traditional sports like hammer throwing, tossing the pole, light and heavy athletics, and Scottish wrestling which is performed at clan gatherings.