Nation profile

Scotland
Alba/Scotland

General information
Population
5.313.600 inhabitants (2011 census)
Area
78.772 km²
Institutions
Government of Scotland, Scottish Parliament
Major cities
Edinburgh, Glasgow
State administration
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Territorial languages
Scottish Gaelic, Scots
Official languages
English, Scottish Gaelic
Major religion
Christianity (Protestantism)
National day
30 November (Saint Andrew Day)

Introduction

Scotland is one of the four home countries that make up the United Kingdom.It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. As a political entity, Scotland emerged in the Middle Ages, and has kept its border with England essentially stable to present.

Scotland, England and Ireland formed a personal union under a single monarch in 1603. The Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England lost their existence as separate states in 1707, when the Act of Union was passed and the United Kingdom of Great Britain was established. The Parliament of Scotland ceased to exist at that moment.

A Scottish Parliament with law-making powers was reinstated in 1999, after the Scottish people had voted a proposal for devolution in a popular referendum in 1997.

Politics

Capital: Edinburgh 
First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon, SNP (since 2014) 
Political system: Legislative and executive autonomy (devolution) within the United Kingdom.
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2016). 129 members: 
Scottish National Party (SNP) - 63
Scottish Conservative Party - 31
Scottish Labour Party - 24
Scottish Green Party - 6
Scottish Liberal Democrats - 5

Electoral system: First-past-the-post for 73 individual constituencies and 56 members selected from "party lists" in the country's eight electoral regions.
Government: SNP
Degree of autonomy
Scotland recovered its national Parliament in 1999, what was the most important step towards decentralization since in 1707 the realms of Scotland and England united under the Acts of Union. The enlargement of Scottish self-government is under discussion by the UK Parliament.
Independence referendums
Scotland held its first-ever independence referendum on 18 September 2014. 55.3% of valid votes were for the "no" option, while 44.7% were for the "yes" ballot. The SNP said in 2015 that it might be seeking a second referendum as the pro-independence party believes that the three main UK political parties are not honouring promises of enlarged self-government for Scotland.

Links

Government
Scottish Parliament www.scottish.parliament.uk
Scottish Government www.gov.scot
Political parties
SNP www.snp.org
Scottish Labour Party www.scottishlabour.org.uk
Scottish Conservative Party www.scottishconservatives.com
Scottish Green Party greens.scot
Scottish Liberal Democrats www.scotlibdems.org.uk
RISE www.rise.scot
Language and Culture
Website on Scotland www.scotland.org 
Bòrd na Gàidhlig - The Gaelic Development Agency www.bord-na-gaidhlig.org.uk
Media
The Herald www.theherald.co.uk
The Scotsman www.scotsman.com
The National www.thenational.scot