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Like the climate of the rest of Great Britain, that of Scotland is subject to the moderating influences of the surrounding seas. As a result of these influences, extreme seasonal variations are rare, and temperate winters and cool summers are the outstanding climatic features. Low temperatures however, are common during the winter season in the mountainous districts of the interior. In the western coastal region, which is subject to the moderating effects of the Gulf Stream, conditions are somewhat milder than in the east.

3.Plant and Animal Life

The most common species of trees indigenous to Scotland are oak and conifers-chiefly fir, pine, and larch. Large forested areas, however, are rare, and the only important woodlands are in the southern and eastern Highlands. Except in these wooded areas, vegetation in the elevated regions consists largely of heather, ferns, mosses, and grasses. Saxifrage, mountain willow, and other types of alpine and arctic flora occur at elevations above 610 m (2000 ft). Practically all of the cultivated plants of Scotland were imported from America and the European continent.

The only large indigenous mammal in Scotland is the deer. Both the red deer and the roe deer are found, but the red deer, whose habitat is the Highlands, is by far the more abundant of the two species. Other indigenous mammals are the hare, rabbit, otter, ermine, pine marten, and

wildcat. Game birds include grouse, blackcock, ptarmigan, and waterfowl. The few predatory birds include the kite, osprey, and golden eagle. Scotland is famous for the salmon and trout that abound in its streams and lakes. Many species of fish, including cod, haddock, herring, and various types of shellfish, are found in the coastal waters.

4.Natural Resources

Scotland, like the rest of the island of Great Britain, has significant reserves of coal. It also possesses large deposits of zinc, chiefly in the south. The soil is generally rocky and infertile, except for that of the Central Lowlands. Northern Scotland has great hydroelectric power potential and contains Great Britain's largest hydroelectric generating stations. Beginning in the late 1970s, offshore oil deposits in the North Sea became an important part of the Scottish economy. The most important city here is Aberdeen which is the oil centre of the country. Ships and helicopters travel from Aberdeen to the North Sea oil rigs. Therefore, Scotland is rather rich in natural resources and sometimes can even condition to England.

5.Population

The people of Scotland, like those of Great Britain in general, are descendants of various racial stocks, including the Picts, Celts, Scandinavians, and Romans. Scotland is a mixed rural-industrial society. Scots divide themselves into Highlanders, who consider themselves of purer Celtic blood and retain a stronger feeling of the clan, and Lowlanders, who are largely of Teutonic blood.

6.Scotlands government.

Government in Scotland is in four tiers. A new Scottish Parliament was elected in 1999, following devolution of powers from the United Kingdom Parliament in London. This is the first time Scotland has had its own parliament in 300 years. The Scottish Parliament, which sits in Edinburgh, is responsible for most aspects of Scottish life. The national parliament in Westminster (London) retains responsibility for areas such as defence, foreign affairs and taxation. The European Parliament in Brussels (Belgium) exercises certain powers vested in the European Union.

The Scottish Parliament is supported by the Scottish Executive also based in Edinburgh. The Scottish Government is led by a First Minister. A Secretary of State for Scotland remains part of the UK Cabinet, and is supported by the Scotland Office (previously the Scottish Office) based in Glasgow, with offices in Edinburgh and London.

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Local government is divided into 29 unitary authorities and three island authorities, having been subject to a major reorganization in 1995.

Scotland has its own legal system, judiciary and an education system which, at all levels, differs from that found "south of the border" in England and Wales.

Scotland also has its own banking system and its own banknotes. Edinburgh is the second financial centre of the UK and one of the major financial centres of the world.

The main part.

I.Early peoples of Scotland and their relations.

(see Appendices, page 23)

Most historians agree that the first man appeared in Scotland as long ago as 6,000 BC. Bone and antler fishing spears and other rudimentary implements found along the western part of the country serve as evidence to support this theory. The Beaker civilization [2]arrived three thousand years later, and is notable for its henges (of which Stonehenge is one of the most famous). The Beaker people eventually spread as far north as Orkney.

As a result of its geography, Scotland has two different societies. In the center of Scotland mountains stretch to the far north and across to the west, beyond which lie many islands. To the east and to the south the lowland hills are gentler, and much of the countryside is like England, rich, welcoming and easy to farm. North of the Highland Line[3] people stayed tied to their own family groups. South and east of this line society was more easily influenced by the changes taking place in England.

Scotland was populated by four separate groups of people. The main group, the Picts, lived mostly in the north and northeast. They spoke Celtic as well as another, probably older, language completely unconnected with any known language today, and they seem to have been the earliest inhabitants of the land.

The non-Pictish inhabitants were mainly Scots. The Scots were Celtic settlers who started to move into the western Highlands from Ireland in the fourth century.

In 843 the Pictish and Scottish kingdoms were united under a Scottish king, who could also probably claim the Picts throne through his mother, in this way obeying both Scottish and Pictish rules of kingship.

The third inhabitants were the Britons, who inhabited the Lowlands, and had been part of the Romano-British world. They had probably given up their old tribal way of life by the sixth century.

Finally, there were Angels from Nothambria who had pushed northwards into the Scottish Lowlands.

Unity between Picts, Scots and Britons was achieved for several reasons. They shared a common Celtic culture, language and background. Their economy mainly depended on keeping animals. These animals were owned by the tribe as a hole, and for this reason land was also held by tribes, not by individual people. The common economic system increased their feeling of belonging to the same kind of society and the difference from the agricultural Lowlands. The sense of common culture may have been increased by marriage alliances between tribes. This idea of common landholding remained strong until the tribes of Scotland, called clans[4], collapsed in the eighteenth century.