Facts About Scotland
1. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). It is also part of Great Britain which is the island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. In addition to being part of the larger island with England and Wales being to its south, Scotland has approximately 790 islands of its own, 130 of which are inhabited.
2. The shortest scheduled flight in the world is a one-and-a-half-mile long trip from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The journey takes 1 minute 14 seconds to complete.
3. The official animal of Scotland is the unicorn and it’s been that way since the 12th century, when it was used on an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I. In Celtic mythology, the Unicorn of Scotland symbolized innocence and purity, healing powers, joy and even life itself.
4. A “loch” is a lake, and Loch Ness is one of the most famous lakes in the world. Its surface area is 22 square miles but it’s depth (755 feet) is what makes it the largest by volume in the British Isles. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. It’s also home to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, a legend that has continued in part for so many years because the lake is incredibly silty which makes it nearly impossible to see anything in the water.
5. Scotland has three officially recognized languages: English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic, with just one percent of the population using the latter. The Scots language includes words like clatty, which means “messy” and kyle (just like the name) which means a narrow water strait, such as the Kyle of Lochalsh.
6. The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh, is home to the world’s largest arts festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe which in 2016 spanned 25 days and featured 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 different venues. The concept of the fringe festival has been copied all around the world and today you can find them in places like New York, Singapore, Dublin, Vancouver, South Africa, and Boulder, Colorado.
7. Perhaps one of Scotland’s strangest athletic events is the Caber Toss, in which competitors toss a large tapered pole (caber) so that it turns end over end falling away from the tosser. The poles are typically 19 feet 6 inches and weight 175 pounds. This tradition is practiced at the Scottish Highland Games.
8. Scotland is relatively small in area compared to the United States. If it were part of our country, it would be the 41st largest and is closest in size to South Carolina. With a population of 5.3 million, there are as many people in the entire country of Scotland as there are in the state of Colorado.
9. Famous Scottish inventions include television, developed by John Logie Baird in 1925 the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, and penicillin, by Alexander Fleming in 1928. The raincoat was invented in 1824 in Scotland by Charles Macintosh, a chemist born in Glasgow. In Great Britain, the garment is still called a “Mac”.
10. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads in the world. Around 13 percent of the population has red hair, with 40 percent carrying the recessive gene. In comparison, less than 2 percent of the world’s population has natural red hair.