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Languages English, Scots Gaelic
Capital Edinburgh
Other main cities Glasgow
Area (km2) 78,772
Population 5,128,000
Currency British Pound
History of Scotland
Scotland occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It is bounded by England in the south and on the other three sides by water: by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and north and by the North Sea on the east. Scotland is divided into three physical regions - the Highlands, the Central Lowlands and the Southern Uplands.

Scotland also includes the Outer and Inner Hebrides and other islands off the west coast and the Orkney and Shetland Islands off the north coast. The famous Scottish Highlands include a series of lochs (or lakes), the largest of which is Loch Ness, famous for its mythical monster.

The first inhabitants of Scotland were the Picts, though they were replaced by the Scots, a Celtic tribe from Ireland, in about 500.

Kenneth McAlpin, King of the Scots, united the tribes in 843 and by the 11th Century, the monarchy had extended its borders to include much of what is Scotland today.

English influence expanded in the 11th-13th Centuries, and in 1296 Edward I invaded. The following year Robert the Bruce led a revolt for independence, was crowned king of Scotland (Robert I) in 1306 and after years of battle, defeated the English in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn. In 1328 the English finally recognised Scottish independence.

In the 16th Century John Knox introduced the Scottish reformation, and the Presbyterian Church replaced Catholicism as the official religion. In 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne, and was later executed by Elizabeth I of England.

Mary's son, James VI, was raised as a Protestant, and in 1603, he succeeded Elizabeth on the English throne, as King James I of England. James thus became ruler of both Scotland and England, though the countries remained separate.

In 1707, after a century of turmoil, Scotland and England passed the Act of Union, which united Scotland, England, and Wales under one rule as the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The House of Hanover replaced the Stuart lineage on the throne in 1714, which caused a rebellion among Scots who still supported the Stuarts. The Jacobites, as the rebels were called, led two uprisings, in 1715 and again in 1745.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Scotland, whose chief product had been textiles, began developing in the industries of shipbuilding, coal mining, iron, and steel. In the late 20th Century Scotland concentrated on electronics and high tech industries. The North Sea has also become an important source of oil and gas.

In May 1999, Scotland elected their first separate Parliament in three centuries. Labour won the largest number of seats in Parliament, defeating the Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports Scotland's independence from Britain.

Did you know?
English is the second most spoken language in the world but it is the official language of more countries than any other language. Its speakers hail from all around the world.
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