About Scotland

Scotland is the northernmost country in the UK. It boasts a stunning mix of sprawling landscapes  and buzzing cities full of culture. Scotland has a lot to offer, from the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which sits on volcanic rock in the heart of the country’s capital; to the stark, mountainous wilderness of the Highlands; and the miles of untouched, white, sandy beaches along the coast that could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean. 

Within the UK, Scotland is known for being progressive, dynamic and creative, and its people are famously warm and welcoming. Scottish culture is rich and unique and although not an everyday occurance, it is not unusual to see a man, usually on a special occasion, wearing traditional Scottish dress. Kilts, a type of knee-length men’s dress skirt, were originally worn by men and boys in the Scottish Highlands and are almost exclusively made using Scotland’s most famous textile - tartan - a patterned cloth consisting of criss-crossed, horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours.

Alongside its natural beauty and national dress, Scotland is known for its iconic traditional music and instruments - including the bagpipes - which are often heard before they are seen. However, there are plenty of other instruments such as the violin, accordion and clarsach (Scottish harp) which are played at folk evenings and traditional music sessions, as well as at ceilidhs - Scottish ‘barn’ dances for people of all ages and abilities. Although most Scottish people know almost all of the dances off by heart through years of practice, anyone and everyone is welcome! For people who are a little newer to Scottish dancing there are usually ‘ceilidh callers’ who talk everyone through the dances slowly and give the guests the opportunity to walk them through before trying at full speed.

Today, the main language spoken in Scotland is English. However, there are two main minority languages worth knowing about. Firstly, Scots, which is a collective name for Scottish dialects from across the nation such as Doric, Lallans and Scotch. And, Gaelic - the founding language of Scotland - which dates back centuries and is thought to originate from Ireland. Although most of modern Scotland used to be Gaelic-speaking, the national census in 2011 reported that only around 1.1 per cent of the population over three years old could speak it. Despite how relatively few people do speak Gaelic, you will still see it on signs throughout the country, and hear it on the radio, television or when listening to traditional songs.  

When in Scotland, you will realise that there is a deep sense of national pride throughout, which can easily be seen through the sheer number of Scottish flags - or ‘Saltires’ - flying. The ‘Saltire’ or ‘St Andrew’s Cross’ is a blue flag with a white diagonal cross, and is the oldest flag in Europe and the Commonwealth.

Receive a world-class education in Scotland  

There are 19 world-leading institutions in Scotland educating 242,000 students and 50,000 international students from over 180 different countries chose to study in Scotland each year. 

Scottish universities offer over 4,500 courses in more than 150 subjects and 91 per cent of international graduates are satisfied with their learning experience at a Scottish university.

86 per cent of Scottish research has been judged to be of outstanding impact - did you know that Scottish innovations include the MRI scanner and keyhole surgery. 

View from Calton Hill over the city of Edinburgh and the historic buildings at night, during the annual Military Tattoo with fireworks in the night sky. ©

Visit Britain / Andrew Pickett

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