Regions of the United Kingdom. Scotland
Scotland is in the northern part of the island of Great Britain and, together with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, forms part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The adjacent Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands are also part of this province. On land Scotland is bordered by England and to the west and east its coasts are washed by the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
One of the main advantages of this region of Britain is its amazing mountain scenery and extremely diverse world of flora and fauna. There are more than four dozen different species of fish in the fresh waters of the Scottish rivers alone, while the land is home to many rare animals, mammals, reptiles and birds. The beauty of the Scottish countryside is personified by the picturesque loch Ness between the west and east coasts of Scotland. It became world famous because of the myths about the famous monster that supposedly lives in its waters. Right on the shore of the lake is a museum dedicated to this creature and enjoys a lot of tourist attention.
The rich cultural traditions, including music, dance and national Scottish dress, are part and parcel of the region’s flavor and allow you to appreciate the inexpressible atmosphere that reigns here. The Scottish people attach great importance to the history of their homeland, which contains many glorious pages. Many of these are detailed in the nation’s literature through the work of celebrated Scottish writers, including Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, William McGonagall and others. The famous bagpipes, thistle flower, famous Scottish skirts, and the image of unicorn, which can be seen on many historic coats of arms, have been symbols of Scotland for centuries. Largely due to a good knowledge of history and traditions of their homeland, in the Scots there is a strong sense of patriotism, which helps and unites them in difficult situations.
Scotland covers an area of just under 80,000 square kilometres and has a population of about 5 million people, more than 80% of whom are indigenous. The main language is English with English-Scottish and Scottish Gaelic as well. The single national currency is the pound sterling. Local time is 3 hours behind Moscow in winter and 2 hours in summer. Time zone is UTC 0 in winter and UTC+1 in summer. Area code is +44.
Inverness Castle, Scotland
A brief glimpse into the history
According to researchers, the first settlements on the territory of Scotland appeared about 8,000 years ago, and cultural traditions and education began to emerge here with the arrival of the Romans. After the fall of the Empire, Pictish and Gaelic tribes inhabited the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, and with the accession of King Kenneth MacAlpin I, nicknamed the Bold, to the throne of the united nation of Scots and Picts, the Kingdom of Scotland appeared on the map in 843. It lasted until 1707, when England and Scotland united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Today Scotland is its most autonomous region with its own administrative and judicial system. Despite the global economic decline after World War II, it has managed to recover largely thanks to foreign investment and income from oil and gas production.
Scotland enjoys a temperate oceanic climate largely influenced by the warm Atlantic current, the Gulf Stream. The weather is highly unstable and subject to strong variations over a short period of time. During the winter months the thermometer is usually a bit above zero, while in the summer the daytime temperature ranges around +20 degrees. Strong winds often blow on the coast, causing storms, which, combined with the gray sky and raging waves of the Atlantic, paints a colorful and at the same time somewhat eerie picture. The best time to visit the country is from June to August, when it’s warm and at times sunny.
Visa and customs regulations
Procedure of registration of a visa to Scotland is similar to English visa and is made through British Embassy. It is obligatory to have income certificate. Documents are filled out in English. It is possible to use the services of an interpreter if necessary. The visa can be single entry or multiple entry, which directly affects its cost. Customs formalities are according to generally accepted norms.
How to get there
All major Scottish cities have international airports which serve flights from all over the world. In addition, the UK has an excellent ground transport network. So, from London to Edinburgh by train takes about 4 hours. There are regular highways and buses that travel all over the island. There are ferry services to Ireland and Norway.
Within Scotland, the most common means of transport, along with the rail, is the bus, including the highly sought-after Macbackpackers tour buses, designed mainly for tourists. The Royal Mail Postbuses, similar to them, are shuttles and take passengers to the most remote corners of Scotland. For shorter trips it is recommended to use bicycles, rented in rentals.
Main regions and cities
Relative to the European continent, Scotland has a fairly low population density of 65 people per square kilometer. The main cities are the capital Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness. Almost a quarter of the total population lives in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The least populated area is the North Scottish Highlands, which is an agricultural area where people live in small farms and villages, farming and cattle ranching. In all, there are 32 areas in the region, which include both areas on the island of Great Britain and numerous small islands. Most of the population lives and works in big cities, working in industry, economy, trade and tourism. The main sports in Scotland are rugby, as well as soccer and golf. Modern stadiums have been built to promote these disciplines as well as the magnificent lawns which are famous for their bright green soft grass. The most striking historical and cultural sites are concentrated in Glasgow and Edinburgh. They include Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Scotland, Royal Botanic Gardens, St. Mungo’s Cathedral in the capital, Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow Tower, City Chambers building in George Square in the same capital and many other interesting places worth seeing. There are medieval castles and fortresses in different regions and historical provinces of the region, which harmoniously complement the local landscapes and attract attention of the antiquity lovers.
– Scotland’s capital
The most common dishes in Scottish restaurants, cafes and eateries are beef, lamb and fish, including shellfish. Nearly every culinary establishment in the city has fried partridge or pheasant on its menu, mutton tripe with oatmeal and giblets called haggis, “Callen soup” with potatoes and smoked haddock, and other national delights. Among sweets especially worth mentioning is “kranahan” with toasted oat flakes, whiskey, berries and honey, as well as “kluti dampling” with dried fruit and delicious ice cream made of fresh milk, which has a unique flavor. Lovers of strong drinks can get a lot of pleasure from tasting the local wines.
For shopping, you’re best off in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling, Dundee or Inverness. In Edinburgh, on the other hand, the choice of goods is not much wider and the prices are higher. As a souvenir of tourists are particularly popular with the famous bagpipes, items of national Scottish clothing and handicrafts with symbols of thistle, unicorn, Loch Ness monster and various local attractions. You can buy inexpensive fruits and vegetables at the markets. Boutiques, stores, malls, jewelry and beauty salons are abundant.
Scotland presents itself to its guests as a bright and colorful province of Great Britain, with beautiful rugged landscapes, rich traditions and unique historical monuments. Visiting these places you’ll have a lot of pleasant impressions and enjoy the charming image of one of the most mysterious and romantic regions of Europe.