Pocket Britain

One of the four nations of the United Kingdom with a fascinating history, full of dramatic battles and famous heroes

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Scotland is one of the four nations of the United Kingdom. It makes up the northernmost third of the British Isles, surrounded by the chilly North Sea to the East, and the Atlantic Ocean to the North and West. People have been living here for at least ten thousand years, leading to a long and fascinating history, full of dramatic battles and famous heroes - and throughout every moment of it, we Scots have remained fiercely proud of our country, culture, and achievements.
Recorded history began in the 1st century, and from then, the nation has seen countless skirmishes, battles, and outright wars, against foes such as the Romans, especially the English, and each other. Around the 9th century, the spread of Christianity caused enough alliances among the Scottish people to lead to their first king, Kenneth MacAlpin. But a union with England didn't happen until the 17th century, when Scotland's King James inherited the throne in London. This eventually led to a union between the two nations, which continues to this day, as part of the United Kingdom. Despite this, Scotland has always maintained its customs and traditions, keeping hold of a distinct identity.
Today, the nation is a diverse and captivating place, with bustling cities, remote wilderness, and everything in between. There are several separate regions, from the lowlands in the south, to the vast highlands in the north and west. The main settlements are located in the lower southern valleys, including the capital, Edinburgh, and the largest city, Glasgow. Both of these offer enough culture and entertainment to rival any city in Europe, perhaps even more so. Just about every taste in music, food and shopping can be indulged in Glasgow, with over 130 concerts a day, and more bars, clubs and restaurants than you could visit in a lifetime.
Edinburgh, meanwhile, has a town centre made up almost entirely of UNESCO World Heritage sites, meaning that you can't go anywhere without seeing beautiful, ancient architecture. It also more than holds its own as a capital city, containing everything from museums to shopping centres - but the place really comes into its own during the festival seasons. Hogmanay (needs explaining) is probably the best New Year's party in the world, while August's Edinburgh Festival, with its art, theatre, comedy, and goodness-knows-what-else, is the biggest cultural event on the global calendar.
But of course, that's not all Scotland has to offer. As you move further and further north, the urbanisation drops away, and you come face-to-face with the most dramatic scenery in the UK. There are endless plains, rugged cliffs, and many famous landmarks, including Ben Nevis - the country's tallest mountain - and Loch Ness, home of the famous monster. Scotland also contains nearly 800 islands, such as the Hebrides, with their spectacular greenery, and the Orkneys, with their old folk charm.
In short, whatever your vision of Scotland is, you can find it. From kilts to bagpipes, cities to mountains, they have everything - and more.

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