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The first of these Scotland facts is that it’s 29,796 square miles (7.2 million hectares) in area – just over one-third of the total area of the United Kingdom. It lies between 55 and 60 degrees north, with central Scotland on approximately the same latitude as Moscow.
Shetland, the most northerly group of islands is closer to the Arctic Circle than to the south of England. (This is a situation that most Shetlanders are very happy about.) At the other end of the country, Ireland is only 12 miles away from Scotland at the nearest point.
This is the usual couple of paras you get on the size of Scotland. That and the slightly weird statistic about the length of its coastline, usually given as 8197 miles (13,115km). Obviously, this counts all the indentations and presumably the coastline of every island and probably sticking up reefs and rocks as well – especially as the western seaboard is only 260 miles (416km) long in straight line. Anyway, there are over 700 islands, and more than 100 are inhabited.
That’s quite enough statistics. And don’t get the wrong impression. Just remember that if you cross the Border at Carlisle, another five hours of steady driving will take you to the shores of the Moray Firth, somewhere east of Inverness, as in the picture below. (It's a place called Findochty.) You’ll get out of the car and say ‘That’s funny. Where did we miss the turn for Edinburgh?’
Important in any list of Scotland facts is some information on the weather in Scotland.
Among many Scotland facts, here's one you should know: it's sometimes sunny. Here's Findochty on the Moray Firth, looking north-west to the hills of Caithness and Sutherland on the horizon. I once used this image in a picture quiz for some tourism trade people in Scotland and someone thought it was the Seychelles. Och, really....
Here’s another Scotland fact. There are three languages spoken here. Englsh, Scots and Gaelic. English, naturally, is prevalent. It is spoken by English people in Scotland, of which there are lots, in every part of the country. It is also used by many native Scots on a sort of sliding scale towards the denser forms of the Scots language. It all depends on the context or the occasion.
Scots is a northern form of English and differs from it more subtly than even many Scots realise. It has its own vocabulary and constructions. Even while speaking what they think is English, Scots tend to drop in the odd Scots construction or pronunciation. (Test: ask a Scot to pronounce ‘tortoise’. ‘Wednesday’ is another giveaway. An example of a Scottish 'construction' would be, 'I'll see you the length of the bus-stop', ie in English 'as far as the bus-stop'.) And if a Scots garage mechanic says ‘Aye, I doubt you’ll need a new tyre’, he’s giving you bad news, not good. In Scots, in many contexts, doubt means exactly the opposite in English in this context. Yes, trust me.
On a visit, you'll easily tune into those Scots who pepper the conversation with Scots words – so the weather becomes ‘dreich’ , rather than just dull. Finally, you can still find guid (good) Scots in full flood in some parts of Scotland - and certainly in 'Finn-echty' - and, because of accent and pronunciation, as well as vocabulary and, to some extent, construction, an outsider won’t get much of it at first. (And vive la difference!)
And the third language? Well, that’s Gaelic. You’ll most likely encounter it in the north and west on bi-lingual road-signs, if you see what I mean. It is ancient, honoured, and has a huge culture of its own. But no-one in Scotland now speaks only Gaelic.
Follow this link for more Scotland facts in easy to digest nugget form. Help yourself - but take care as one of them is a spoiler, a kind of joke and - imagine this - people write to me beceause they think I'm serious. But I'm sure you'll spot it straightaway. And there is plenty of information here on traditional Scotland food and the mysterious and sometimes hard to track down Scottish high tea.
Or you can read about the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. Wait a minute, didn't I say 'Scotland facts'- not make-believe? Well, what about the Scotland flag, the Saltire? Or take a look at the flowers of Scotland page? That, at least, is down to earth.
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Scotland in Three Days