Scotland is located in the far north of Great Britain and covers about a third of the Island. It was a separate state until James VI, the King of Scots became the King of England in 1603. In 1707 the political union was completed with the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. This was later modified in 1801 to become the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In Scotland there is a separate Parliament at Holyrood to run Scottish affairs. This was created in 1997 and was at the centre of Scotland’s campaign to break away from the rest of the country in 2014 and become independent. This failed as 55% of the voters wished to remain as part of United Kingdom.

A piper in traditional dress

Scotland has always had its own unique separate identify apart from the rest of the country. For a start it does look rather different geographically. During the last ice age the country was completely covered by an ice sheet and the region has been shaped by glacial and peri-glacial processes. Situated north of the River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway Firth on the west coast, the topography ranges from the highest point in Great Britain being found on the top of Ben Nevis, to  lowland areas that are typified by deep lochs filled with water.

The North East of Scotland is subjected to some of the coldest climatic conditions in the UK while the western side of the country benefits from the warming influence of the North Atlantic Drift. The natural vegetation is coniferous and deciduous woodland, broken up by areas of moorland. These conditions have made it ideal for deer to survive today, and in the past bears, lynx, beavers, and wolves have roamed the region.

There are many different things that are synonymous with Scotland and being Scottish. The music is one area that stands out as having a Scottish feel. The sound of the bagpipes is so unique that regardless of location, hearing the pipes playing will result in the majority of people being able to link the music with Scotland. This form of traditional music is often closely linked to dance and dress. The music of the pipes is often played at festivals and family gatherings, which are called celidhs, with members performing a traditional Scottish dance.

A plate of Haggis washed down with whisky

Their traditional dress is the Kilt. This colorful tartan cloth is worn around the waist by, both males and females, and is held together by a tartan pin. The pattern of the tartan reflects the family the tartan has originated from. The kilt is accompanied by the sporran, which is a small fury purse worn on the outside of the kilt.

The whisky of Scotland is renowned for being the best in the world. The natural conditions makes the country an ideal location for the mixing of barley and local spring water, in order to produce the product that is Scotland’s largest export. Whisky can only be called Scotch if it has been left to mature in Scotland for at least three years. Scotland’s most famous food is the Haggis. Consumed by most Scots during New Year’s celebration the tradition recipe is a concoction of meat, oatmeal, onions and spices that have been cooked in the lining of a sheep’s stomach. Modern day versions of the feast have the feast cooked within synthetic sausage casing.

The thistle is the flower of Scotland, and the Loch Ness Monster is another image closely associated with the country. Scotland really does have a separate identity from any other nation, and the combination of all things Scottish blend together to produce its own unique character.