“”We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.
|—Voltaire actually said this|
Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is the second largest country on the island of Great Britain and in the multinational state the United Kingdom. The magical land of haggis, kilts, golf, and the Great Highland Bagpipe is, like the rest of Britain – known as very, very wet. Famous tourist attractions in Scotland include Nessie, Sir Walter Scott's birthplace, J. K. Rowling, and attending a show at the Glasgow Empire on a day when both Rangers and Celtic lost at home.
Scotland in the United Kingdom
“”The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!
Scotland has enjoyed a hilariously up-and-down relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland fought England over political and provincial issues in the early middle ages, though relations between the two countries eventually stabilised to the extent where they decided to become a unified state along with Wales in 1707. In 2014 after a nail biting final campaign (mainly older) Scots voted by a
tiny 55-45 majority to stay in the United Kingdom.  A post-referendum poll suggested that the 18-24, 55-64 and 65+ age cohorts voted to retain the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, whereas the 16-17, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54 cohorts voted to separate.
Ireland's ties with Scotland go back a long, long way. In the old days, Scotia referred to Ireland, not to Scotland. However, as Gaelic speaking Scots managed to gain dominance within several kingdoms in the region, the name "Scots" and "Scotia" came to be applied to Scotland, which had previously been known as Caledonia, and as Alba by Gaels, who wished to be different.
In modern day Northern Ireland, much of the Protestant community is descended from Scottish (and some northern English) migrants to northern parts of the island, who are today referred to as Ulster-Scots, the ones who settled in Appalachia in the eighteenth century and their descendants in the United States are called Scots-Irish. Despite the Ulster-Scots social/ethnic group being traditionally Protestant unionist in nature, the Catholic Provisional IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Great Britain for a united Irish state throughout the 1970s and 1980s focused on targets solely in England, never targeting Scotland, except for one attack on Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland.
Political opinion about the issue of Northern Ireland and the Crown is notably divided in Scotland, with some favoring the continued existence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland while others favour the total independence and reunification of the island of Ireland from the Union. Typically, the Old Firm football rivalry between Glasgow football sides Celtic and Rangers FC have been charged with political opinion, with supporters of the teams sometimes favouring independence and unionism respectively. At Old Firm matches, it is commonplace for Celtic fans to fly the Irish Tricolor, while Rangers fans tend to fly the Union Flag, as many people in the Glasgow area are descended from Catholic and Protestant Irish immigrants who came to Scotland for work, bringing the sectarian hatreds of their homeland with them; indeed Celtic was founded in an effort to help (mainly Catholic) Irish immigrants - as evidenced by the shamrock on the Celtic club badge - while Rangers mainly catered to the native Protestant Scots as well as Ulster Protestant immigrants. Old Firm bigotry tends to be mostly located in and around Glasgow, in the industrial rust belt, where it is compulsory to vote Labour, and their fans are somewhat confused about the issue of Scottish independence since it doesn't appear to involve Ireland.
“”How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?
|—Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh asking a Scottish driving instructor in 1995|
The nature of the Scots can be summed up by the simple observation that Scotland is the only country whose national dress includes a knife in the sock. There are high levels of obesity like in England due to a diet high in fried foods,[note 1] but have low blood pressure due to their habit of eating oatmeal (apparently). Scotland has the world's highest proportion of redheads; approximately 13% of the population has red hair and about 40% carry the recessive redhead gene.
Notable contemporary Scottish people include Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, George Galloway,
doctor Gillian McKeith, and David Tennant (more of a Doctor than Gillian any day). Scotland has a vast tradition of great scientists including Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), James Clerk Maxwell, David Brewster (inventor of the kaleidoscope), Robert Watson-Watt, John Dunlop, and more recently Newcastle-born Peter Higgs.
Other notable, though considerably more dead, Scottish people include a large number of progressive thinkers who flourished in what is known as the Scottish Enlightenment, from around the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries. Some of the better-remembered names today include David Hume, James Hutton, Adam Smith and James Watt. Scotland's most famous writers (apart from J.K. Rowling, obviously) Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walter Scott also lived during this period. More recent authors include fairy-believer Arthur Conan Doyle, fairy-lover J.M. Barrie, and Unionist step-counter John Buchan. Bisexual monarch James VI and I flourished a bit earlier.[note 2]
Scotland is a traditionally Christian country, converted by 1000 CE, largely thanks to the efforts of Irish missionaries such as St Columba (who was the first person to see the Loch Ness Monster). Initially Celtic Christian, it was brought in greater conformity with Rome by St Margaret in the 11th century.
In the 16th century, the Scottish Reformation happened, thanks partly to noted misogynist and Mariaphobe John Knox. Protestantism gradually spread until Catholicism was restricted to the Gaelic-speaking fringes of the Highlands and islands. More recently, however, Catholicism has had something of a resurgence with Irish and then Polish immigrants meaning there are now more active Catholics than Church of Scotland parishioners.
In the 18th century, Scottish philosopher David Hume was famed for his atheism, and Scots have often taken a rational approach to religion. Humanist weddings are popular in Scotland, and it is predicted they will soon become more common than church weddings.
The country is populated by rebellious commoners who, in 1995, were led to independence from England by the Australian Mel Gibson. For that, Gibson won an Academy Award and had Gibson's Law named after him.
Common misconceptions about Scotland are: that it originated Scotch (the sublime beverage), wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Rod Stewart, Scotch™ transparent tape, and Scott paper towels; and that it has been inhabited for over 10,000 years.
Several things can be "scotched"; including rumours, snakes, butter and eggs.
The traditional courtesy extended to an Englishman who calls someone from Scotland "Scotch" is a Glasgow kiss.
The kilt is a skirt worn by
jessies all true Scotsmen, usually while playing the bagpipes or on formal occasions, ideally both.[note 3] Kilts have distinctive plaid patterns which supposedly represent the wearer's clan. However, most of those 'clan designations' were in fact created in the early 19th century, as is frequently pointed out by the wearers of traditional Scottish garb such as jeans, string vests, T-shirts, and three-piece suits.
The curious often ask whether anything is worn under the kilt. No: it's all in perfect working order.
The Scots have a wholly unjustified reputation for meanness: on the contrary, they are an admirably prudent, frugal and thrifty nation.[note 4]
Does Scotland really exist?
Legal advice prepared for the British Government on International Law with regards to the referendum on the Independence of Scotland, suggests, in the context of the union of 1707, that
- No True Scotsman
- Northern Ireland
- The Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia, which is Latin for "New Scotland"
- Scottish National Party - The last bastion of the lefties. It's like Helm's Deep.
- West Lothian Question
- Essay:Too small, too poor, too stupid
- United Kingdom
- Church of Scotland
- Address Tae A Haggis
- Americans can only purchase "homegrown" or imitation haggis
- Scottish referendum: Scotland votes 'No' to independence
- Lord Ascroft, Twitter, 19 Sep 2014
- Prince Philip: 90 of the Duke of Edinburgh's most excruciating gaffes and jokes by Heather Saul (Friday 17 July 2015) The Independent.
- Oats - A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people. (Samuel Johnson, 1755)
- Columba encountered Loch Ness monster, Christianity.com
- Catholic Church moves into Pole position, The Scotsman, 25 May 2008
- Humanist weddings 'on the increase' in Scotland
- A Facial at Fortnum's? Never, Jonathan Glancey, Guardian, 5 Nov 2007
- See the Wikipedia article on Scotch Tape.
- "Twa' the bonne' off, an' pu' the heid on him!"
- Charlie, he's my darling.
- Part IV §35, Annex A Opinion: Referendum on the Independence of Scotland – International Law Aspects