70 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Scotland | Amazing Facts 4U
Land & Geography
- Scotland is the U.K.’s northernmost country having land area of about 80000 km² and population just over 5 million and population, density being 170 per Sq. Mile.
- Scotland has some 790 islands, 130 of which are inhabited. The official animal of Scotland is the Unicorn.
- Scotland is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Western Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes).
- The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh recognized by iconic castle while the largest city is Glasgow. Other major cities include Aberdeen and Dundee.
- Meikleour Beech Hedges, in Perthshire, is the tallest and longest hedge on earth, reaching 30 metres (100 ft) in height and 530 metres (1/3 mile) in length.
- Bass Rock, 2 km off the coast of North Berwick, is the largest single-rock Gannet colony in the world, home to some 150,000 birds for centuries.
- St Kilda, the westernmost group of islands of the Outer Hebrides, has become completely uninhabited by humans since 1930. It is home to the world’s second largest colony of Northern Gannets, totalling 30,000 pairs (24% of the global population), as well as 49,000 breeding pairs of Leach’s Petrels (90% of the European population), and 136,000 pairs of Atlantic Puffins (30% of the UK’s total breeding population). It has been granted World Heritage Site status in 1986.
- In Sutherland we find both Britain’s highest waterfall, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn (200 m / 658 ft), and the highest sea cliffs on the British mainland, known as the Clò Mór cliffs (281 m / 920 ft). The UK’s highest cliff is also located in Scotland, Conachair on St Kilda, rising 427 metres above Atlantic Ocean.
- Inverness-shire, Scotland’s largest county, is home to Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis (1,343 m / 4,406 ft), Britain’s deepest lake, Loch Morar (310 m / 1,017 ft), and Britain’s second longest and second deepest lake, the famous Loch Ness.
- The shortest scheduled flight in the world is one-and-a-half miles long from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The journey takes about 74 seconds to complete.
- The Hamilton Mausoleum in South Lanarkshire has the longest echo of any man-made structure in the world , about 15 seconds.
History & Heritage
- Skara Brae, on the island of Orkney, is the most complete Neolithic village in Europe. It is also the oldest building in Britain, dating from 3100 BCE.
- Aberdeen Harbour Board is Britain’s oldest recorded business, founded in 1136.
- The University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge.It had Britain’s first female student in 1862. World’s first students’ union came into existence in 1882 here.
- Established in 1498, the Shores Porters Society in Aberdeen is the world’s oldest transport company.
- Scotland was an independent country until 1603 having it’s own king. Then the king of Scotland became king of England but the two country didn’t merge their governments until 1707, to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
- The Bank of Scotland, founded in 1695, is the oldest surviving bank in the UK. It was also the first bank in Europe to print its own banknotes.
- A Scot, William Paterson (1658-1719), was the instigator and a co-founder of the Bank of England.
- The post office at Sanquhar, established in 1712, claims to be the oldest working post office in the world.
- The Encyclopedia Britannica, the world’s oldest surviving scholarly encyclopedia was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh. The first 9 editions out of 15 so far were all edited in Scotland. From 1901 it was edited conjointly in New York City and London.
- Henry Duncan founded the world’s first commercial savings bank at Ruthwell, near Dumfries, in 1810.
- Edinburgh was the first city in the world with its own fire brigade, in 1824.
- Forbes Magazine was founded in 1917 in New York by Scottish journalist Bertie Charles Forbes.
Places / Architecture
- Rubislaw Quarry is Britain’s the deepest quarry (142 m) and one of the biggest man-made holes in Europe. It closed in 1971.
- Wanlockhead Mines, in Dumfries and Galloway, possesses one of the greatest variety of minerals in Europe (lead, zinc, copper, silver and gold). Its gold is amongst the world’s purest, at 22.8 carats.
- The Ballochmyle Viaduct is the highest extant railway viaduct in Britain. When it was completed in 1848, it boasted the world’s longest masonry arch (55m / 181 ft) of any railway bridge. The bridge featured in the 1996 film Mission Impossible starring Tom Cruise.
- William Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton and John Brown and Company of Clydebank were two of the most internationally renowned shipbuilding companies in the world from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. RMS Queen Elizabeth the largest passenger liner ever built until 1994 was built here.
- Established by James Young in 1852, Bathgate Chemical Works in West Lothian was the world’s first oil refinery. From 1865 to 1880, Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company was the world largest oil producer.
- Upon its completion in early 1878 the Tay Rail Bridge was the longest in the world, but was destroyed by a storm in December 1879. The second Tay Bridge, opened in 1887, with a length of 4,500 m (14,800 ft), and remained the longest bridge in the world until 1903. It is still Britain’s longest bridge.
- The Forth Railway Bridge, opened in 1890, was the world’s first major steel bridge. With a main span of 521 m (1,710 ft) and a total length of 2,529 m (8,296 ft), it is the second longest cantilever bridge in the world after Pont de Québec in Canada. When it was completed, the Forth Bridge was three times longer than any other bridge ever built.
- The 112 metre-long transparent underwater viewing tunnel at Deep Sea World at North Queensferry, in Fife, is the longest of its kind in Europe, and one of the longest in the world.
- Glasgow Tower, completed in 2001, is the tallest tower in the world (127 m / 417 ft) in which the whole structure is capable of rotating 360 degrees.
People / Customs & Culture
- Skibo Castle in Sutherland, Andrew Carnegie’s former holiday retreat, has become the Carnegie Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. The castle is a venue for quite a few celebrity weddings, including singer Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie in 2000.
- The Edinburgh Festival, a grouping of arts and cultural festivals taking place in summer, form the largest annual cultural festival in the world.
- Scotland has three officially recognised languages: English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic (a completely different language).Scotland is known as “Alba” in Gaelic.
- The official religion of Scotland is Christianity, with churches traditionally being called “kirks”.
- Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads in the world. Around 13% of the population has red hair, with 40% carrying the recessive gene.
- About 5 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry. The highest concentration of people of Scottish descent are found in New England and in the North-West.
- Among major cities with Scottish names we find Houston, Dallas and Knoxville in the USA, Hamilton in Canada, and Brisbane and Perth in Australia.
- Founded by Tibetan refugees in 1967, the Kagyu Samyé Ling monastery near Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway, is home to the largest Buddhist temple in western Europe.
- In 2004, Edinburgh became the UNESCO’s first City of Literature.
- Scotland is reputed for its Scotch whisky which was invented in China, and was first distilled by monks in Ireland in the early 15th century before reaching Scotland 100 years later.
- Edinburgh was home to Skye terrier Grey Friar’s Bobby, who captured the hearts of the nation by sitting on the grave of his dead owner for 14 years.
Government & Politics
- The Scottish Parliament has been reconvened on 1st July 1999 for the first time after nearly 300 years of interruption. It had been dissolved when the Act of Union was signed in 1707. Recently movement for independence from England has grown since brexit.
- The country still has its own legal system, separate from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Juries can return verdict of “guilty”, “not guilty” and “not proven.”
- Scotland provided a fair share of British Prime Ministers, among whom we find William Gladstone, the only British PM to serve four separate times, and more recently Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-2010).
Economy & Corporates
- The Asda Walmart Almondvale Shopping Centre in Livingston is the largest of its kind in Europe.
- Scottish waters have some of Europe’s largest oil reserve and Aberdeen is the centre of Europe’s petroleum industry. It is known as Europe’s oil capital, or the “Granite City”.
- The Sullom Voe Terminal in the Shetland Islands is Europe’s largest oil and liquefied gas terminal.
- Scotland is a major producer of wool and wool textiles, and is famous around the world for its distinctive tweed cloth and Tartan patterns.
- Producing their first blend in 1865, Johnnie Walker quickly became the world’s leading whisky company. Now part of the Diageo group, the world’s largest producer of spirits, Johnnie Walker remains the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world.
- Glenfiddich became the first distillery to market single-malt whisky (as opposed to blended whisky) outside Scotland in 1963. It is now the world’s best-selling single malt, sold in 180 countries, and accounts for about 35% of single malt sales.
- Strathisla is the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. It was founded as the Milltown Distillery by George Taylor in 1789.
- The Herald, Scotland’s leading newspaper, is Britain’s and one of the world’s oldest continuously-published English-language newspapers. It was first published on 27 January 1783 as the Glasgow Advertiser.
- The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century. Golf was originally played on a course of 22 holes which was reduced to 18 holes at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1764. St Andrews is dubbed the “home of golf” and exercises legislative authority.
- The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in Muirfield is the oldest organised golf club in the world. The club’s records date continuously back to 1744.
- The world’s first international rugby match was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh on 27 March 1871, opposing Scotland to England.
- The world’s first international football match, Scotland v England, took place on 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow.
Sciences & Inventions
- Notable Scottish inventions include the method of logarithms (1614), tarmac (1820), the waterproof raincoat (1823), the hot blast furnace (1828), and the pneumatic tyre (1887).
- The raincoat was invented by Charles Macintosh, a chemist born in Glasgow. In Great Britain, the garment is still called a “Mac”.
- The modern, rear-wheel driven bicycle was invented in 1839 by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith from Keir, Dumfries-shire.
- The pneumatic tyre was invented in 1845 by Robert William Thomson from Stonehaven, Kincardineshire. It was re-invented in a more practical way in 1887 by another Scotsman, John Boyd Dunlop, founder of Dunlop Rubber.
- James Young Simpson discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform in 1847, and successfully introduced it for general medical use.
- Famous Scottish inventions include the television, developed by John Logie Baird in 1925, the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and penicillin, by Alexander Fleming in 1928.
- Scotland has produced great thinkers and inventors like James Watt, Sir Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell etc.
- Scottish literature includes such names as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K. Rowling.
- Famous Scottish actors include Sean Connery, Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor.
- At least 6 US Presidents were of Scottish descent: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James Knox Polk, William McKinley and Thomas Wilson. Other famous Americans with Scottish ancestry include John Paul Jones (father of the American Navy) and Thomas Edison (inventor).
- The two first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie were Scottish. Many Australian Prime Ministers were also of Scottish descent, like George Reid , Andrew Fisher , Stanley Bruce and Robert Menzies.
- The first teaching hospital in America, the Baltimore Infirmary was founded by a Glasgow surgeon, Granville Sharp Pattison, in 1816.
By Amazing Facts 4U Team