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Northernmost country of the United Kingdom. Area: 30,421 sq mi (78,789 sq km). Population (2001): 5,062,011. Capital: Edinburgh. The population is a blend of Celtic, Angle, and Norman ancestry. Languages: English (official), Scottish Gaelic, and Scots. Religion: Church of Scotland (Presbyterian; official). Currency: pound sterling. Scotland has three major geographic regions. The Highlands, in the north, are occupied by a series of lakes and the Grampian Mountains. The Lowlands, which include some of Scotland's best farmland, comprise the other two major regions: the Midland Valley (Central Lowlands) and the Southern Uplands; the Southern Uplands feature narrow, flat valleys separating table mountains. Scotland has a temperate oceanic climate. Important industries are coal and oil production, electronics, forestry, and marine fishing. Picts inhabited the region when it was invaded by the Romans c. AD 80. In the 5th century it split into four kingdoms under the Picts, Scots, Britons, and Angles. Scottish unification began in the 9th century. It came under a heavy Anglicizing influence from the 11th century, and its ruler was forced to pay homage to the English crown in 1174, leading to numerous future disputes. The Scottish and English kingdoms were united in 1603 when James VI, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, ascended the English throne as James I. Scotland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, when the parliaments of both governments passed the Act of Union. The English prevailed in two Scottish rebellions in the 18th century, and after 1745 the history of Scotland became part of the history of Great Britain. Scotland has no sovereign executive but retains vestiges of ancient sovereignty in its own legal and educational systems. In 1997 the Scots passed a referendum that allowed them to establish their own parliament in Edinburgh to vote on wide-ranging political issues while remaining part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish Parliament first convened in 1999.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Scotland, visit Britannica.com.