Scotland is one of four constituent nations which make up the United Kingdom. Its main language is English, although its mother tongue, Gaelic, is still spoken in the North and West of Scotland.
Scotland has seven cities: Edinburgh; Glasgow; Stirling; Perth; Dundee; Inverness and Aberdeen. Historical Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is home to the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle and the Edinburgh International Festival to name but a few. Forty miles west is Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. It has excellent shopping and is perceived as a very 'trendy' city. Heading north, you will find Stirling, Scotland's newest city, Perth, Inverness and the 'Granite City', Aberdeen.
There are excellent transport links between Scotland's cities and the rest of the UK. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen are home to international airports linking Scotland with the rest of the world.
Scotland is well known for its mountainous and beautiful scenery, most of which is found in the North. The country is also noted for its lochs (this name is generally used for lakes in Scotland). Much of the west coast of the country is intersected by Sea Lochs - the most famous being Loch Ness, the one with the monster!
A new Scottish Parliament was elected in 1999, following devolution of powers from the United Kingdom Parliament in London. There are currently 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) representing individual areas of Scotland. This is the first time Scotland has had its own parliament in 300 years! In October 2004, a brand new dynamic home, situated at the foot of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile, was opened after a much controversial construction process.
The Scottish ladies' curling team caused a sensation by bringing home the UK's first gold medal from the Winter Olympics in 2002. As a result of this, curling is being played far wider than ever and is definitely up-and-coming sport, both in its homeland and internationally. Aviemore, in the north of Scotland, is an ideal area for other winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Scotland is also commonly associated with golf and is recognised internationally for its excellent courses, which play host to the famous Scottish Open, recently held at Muirfield, just 20 miles down the coast from Edinburgh.
Scotland also has a national football team and rugby team.
Scotland has thousands of restaurants selling food from all over the world. It's own personal cuisine haggis, neeps and tatties is a must if you haven't tried it.
For more information on Scotland, please see the official 'Visit Scotland' Website: www.visitscotland.com
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