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Scotland, one of the four national units that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The other units are England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and Glasgow is its largest city.


Scotland and its offshore islands comprise the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish mainland, which occupies roughly the northern third of the island of Great Britain, is bordered on three sides by seas. To the north and west is the Atlantic Ocean; to the east is the North Sea. Rugged uplands separate Scotland from England to the south.

The territory of Scotland includes 186 nearby islands, a majority of which are contained in three groups. These are the Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, located off the western coast; the Orkney Islands, located off the northeastern coast; and the Shetland Islands, located northeast of the Orkney Islands. The largest of the other islands is the Island of Arran.

The total land area of Scotland, including the islands, is 78,790 sq km (30,420 sq mi).

 An independent nation for much of its history, Scotland was joined to England by a series of dynastic and political unions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Scotland retains a separate national identity, however, supported by separate legal and educational systems, a national church, a parliament with wide-ranging powers, and other national symbols and institutions.


The capital of Scotland


Edinburgh, city, capital of Scotland, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh is the second largest city in Scotland, after the industrial center of Glasgow. It is, however, Scotland's financial, cultural, educational, and service-industry hub. Among the city's manufactures are paper, whisky, electrical and electronic equipment, food products, and chemicals. The printing and publishing industry was well established here by the 16th century. Edinburgh's port, at the communities of Leith and Granton, is a major service point for vessels associated with the North Sea petroleum industry. The principal imports are petroleum products, grain, ores, and wood; exports include whisky, steel, and fertilizer. The city is also one of Britain’s major tourist centers.

Edinburgh's central dominating landmark is Edinburgh Castle, rising on sheer cliffs above the city. Located here is the 11th-century Chapel of Saint Margaret, the city's oldest structure. The Castle Rock is connected to the 16th-century royal Scottish residence of Holyrood Palace by a road known as the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare of the Old Town district of the city. Other notable buildings in Old Town include Saint Giles, the National Church of Scotland (largely 15th century); the Parliament House, seat of the Scottish Parliament from its completion in 1639 until 1707; and the house of the 16th-century Protestant reformer John Knox. To the north of this district is New Town, which was developed in the late 18th century and contains many fine buildings designed by the Scottish architect Robert Adam. Separating the two districts is Princes Street Gardens, occupying the bed of a loch that was drained in 1816.

Among Edinburgh's cultural institutions are the National Gallery of Scotland (1859), the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (1882), the Royal Scottish Museum (1854), and museums of modern art and Scottish history. The Edinburgh International Festival, held here annually since 1947, is a world-renowned arts festival. The University of Edinburgh (1583) is especially noted for its schools of medicine and law. Other educational institutions include Heriot-Watt University (1821), Edinburgh College of Art (1907), and colleges of architecture, technology, education, and theology.

Castle Rock was occupied by the Picts about the 6th century ad. In the 11th century Malcolm III, king of Scotland, had his castle here, and his wife, Saint Margaret, built a small church. King Robert Bruce granted Edinburgh a charter in 1329. In 1437 the town became the national capital following the murder of King James I at Perth, the former capital. Edinburgh lost much of its commercial and administrative importance in 1603 when James VI became James I, king of England, and departed for London. By the Act of Union with England in 1707, the Scottish Parliament was dissolved and Scotland was governed by the British Parliament.

Edinburgh's expansion beyond its medieval boundaries to New Town was planned by the town council in 1767. During the 18th and 19th centuries the city flourished as a cultural center. It was the home of writers Robert Burns, James Boswell, and Sir Walter Scott and the philosophers Adam Smith and David Hume. The city's boundaries were expanded considerably in 1856 (when New Town was absorbed), 1900, and 1920. Before 1975 Edinburgh was the county town of the former county of Midlothian. In the 1996 reorganization of local government, the City of Edinburgh became a unitary authority. Population (2001 estimate) 449,000.

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