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About Scotland

Scotland's History & Heritage

Scotland's history comes alive as you explore the country.

Picturesque fishing villages, dark and brooding castles, opulent palaces, ancient stone circles and classical architecture all provide bookmarks to distinct chapters in Scotland's history.

Scotland fate has risen and fallen through the ages, acquiring romance from tragedy, producing genius out of poverty and demonstrating an irrepressible spirit within the Scots people. The country has been torn apart by religion and internal politics, coveted by a richer and more powerful neighbour and both wooed and punished for over 400 years as the vital partner in the power struggles between England, France and Spain.

As a small European nation with a population of 5 million souls - Scotland is roughly the same as Denmark but bigger than Norway or Ireland. Politically, Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, and by extension the European Union.

Since the Union of the Crowns in 1603 when the Scottish King, James V1 became James 1 of England, and the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, Scotland has tried to define a mutually beneficial working relationship with her huge larger neighbour and partner, England. Pierre Trudeau, the former premier of Canada, described his countries relationship with the U.S.A. as akin to "being in bed with an elephant". Touché, Pierre.

When the Act of Union was passed controversially by an aristocratic parliament tempted by English gold, the bells of St Giles in Edinburgh played the old air "Why am I so sad, on this my wedding day" That summed up the popular attitude at the time, so it took many decades and the economic sweetener of access to English markets and colonies to make the bride if not ecstatic, then at least contented with her lot. The Union also left major Scottish institutions like law, education, and the predominant Presbyterian religion untouched, so many areas of Scottish life remained unchanged.

There were unsuccessful Jacobite uprisings in 1715 and 1745, mainly supported by Highlanders, but by the late 18th and 19th centuries Scotland enjoyed the economic rewards of belonging to the world's major superpower and played a major role in the British Empire. Most people now felt little tension in having dual nationality - patriotic Scot and proud of being British.

In the 20th century, with the decline of Empire, the Scottish side of the duality emerged more and more strongly, and the demand for increased self government and devolution of power from Westminster grew stronger and stronger. Following the referendum of 1997, the Scottish Parliament returned to Edinburgh in 1999, after an absence of 292 years, taking over the major domestic responsibilities, but still leaving substantial powers to the British Parliament in London.

In 2014, a Referendum was held to decide whether Scotland should be a seaprate country or remain part of the UK. The result was a majority decision to remain within the UK. However the result was close with a huge turnout for the vote and a rekindling of positive nationalist feelings within much of the population.

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