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Facts and Figures

 The entire area of Scotland, including its islands, is 78,783 km2. Mainland Scotland covers an area of 77,080 km2. Scotland has 790 islands, of which 697 are uninhabited. Only 62 of the Scottish isles are larger than three square miles. The Scottish coastline is 6, 214 metres long. Scotland is home to over five million people and has a population of 66 people per square kilometre. The majority of the population (4.5 million) lives in towns and cities.

Scotland is divided into the following areas: the Highlands, Grampian, Tayside, Fife, Central, Strathclyde, Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, Borders and the Shetlands, Orkney and the Hebrides. The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh, while the largest city is Glasgow.

 The highest mountain not only in Scotland, but in the whole of the United Kingdom is Ben Nevis whose summit is at 1344 metres above sea level. The longest river in Scotland is the River Tay (187 km). The largest freshwater body in Scotland is Loch Lomond, which is 36 km long and measures 8 km across at its widest point. There are 30 islands on Loch Lomond.

July 1999 saw the reopening of the Scottish Parliament, which was voted for by the Scots in a referendum in 1997 and which has some of the powers formerly belonging to the British Parliament. Scotland last had its own parliament in 1707. The Scottish National Anthem is Flower of Scotland. The most popular names in Scotland are Andrew and Emma.

What comes to mind when we hear the word 'Scotland'

For me personally it evokes kilts, Scotch whisky and Highland games.


 The kilt is the name given to a skirt worn by men and traditionally made of pure Scottish wool. The kilt belongs to traditional Scottish dress as do the sporran and knee-length socks. As the kilt has no pockets, small items are carried in the sporran, which is worn on the front of the kilt. Another part of the traditional Scottish outfit is a small dagger (Sgian Dubh or skene-dhu) tucked into the right sock. Traditionally, the fact that the dagger is clearly visible was seen as a sign that the wearer comes in peace.

Each Scottish family - or clan - traditionally had its own particular tartan, from which their kilts were made. The differentiation of individual clans by their tartans has a long history and much has been written on this subject.


Scotch whisky is synonymous with high quality and accounts for more than a quarter of all Scottish exports. The beginnings of whisky production in Scotland date back to the 13th century. Originally, the whisky made in the Highlands and on the isles was produced in small quantities and was not intended for sale. At first the rulers didn't interfere in any way and didn't limit its production. From time to time local restrictions were imposed (in areas where there had been a poor crop, for example), but generally speaking the Scots had always freely produced whisky for their own consumption and over the centuries they began to consider it their undeniable right. In 1644, when the Scottish parliament needed a means of financing the army, it introduced the Scottish Excise Act - a law by which whisky and all spirits were subject to an excise duty of two shillings and eight pence per Scottish pint (approximately one third of a gallon). For the next two hundred years most whisky was produced illicitly. It was a prosperous business and historians estimate that more than half the nation was involved, either directly or indirectly, in the illicit production and smuggling of whisky. At the beginning of the 19th century anyone who wanted to produce whisky had to have a license. In 1823 Parliament passed a law, which lowered the duty and permitted the production of whisky upon payment of a relatively low license fee and by doing so laid the foundations of today's mass production of whisky. Most of the distilleries producing whisky to this day (Glenlivet -1824, Fettercairn -1824, Talisker -1830) were founded after the introduction of this piece of legislation. The largest number of distilleries can be found by the river Spey in the Highlands. Many of them are open to visitors who are taken through the different stages in the whisky-making process and the guided tour ends with a tasting of the final product. The word 'whisky' comes from Gaelic and means 'the water of life'.


Highland games is the name given to a social event which takes place each year in various parts of Scotland between June and September. It is an event, which doesn't have an equivalent anywhere else in the world. As well feats of great strength and stamina, such as caber tossing (the caber weighs is approximately seven metres long and weighs an incredible 132lbs), throwing a hammer high up into the air and uphill racing, the competition involves Highland dancing (due to the nature of the dance, which is in certain respects very similar to ballet, mainly girls and young women compete in this area) and piping. Often a parade of a regiment of bagpipers provides further entertainment at the games. Traditional dress, including the kilt, is obligatory for male contestants. The history of Highland games dates back to the 11th century when the country was under the rule of King Malcolm III. In those days, the leaders of clans chose their warriors, guards and messengers from among the winning contestants.

- Václav Bernard -