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  • Topic: Scotland, Scottish Gaelic, Scots language
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The population of Scotland in the 2001 Census was 5,062,011.

This rose to 5,295,400, the highest ever, according to the first results of the 2011 Census.

Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, it is not the largest city. With a population of just over 584,000, this title falls to Glasgow.

The Greater Glasgow urban area, with a population of almost 1.2 million, is home to nearly a quarter of Scotland's population.

The “Central Belt” is where most of the main towns and cities are located. Glasgow is to the west, while Edinburgh and Dundee lie on the east coast, with Perth lying 20 miles upstream on the River Tay from Dundee.

The Highlands are sparsely populated.

In general, only the more accessible and larger islands retain human populations. Currently, fewer than 90 remain inhabited.

The Southern Uplands are essentially rural in nature and dominated by agriculture and forestry.

Immigration since World War II has given Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee small South Asian communities. In 2011, there were an estimated 49,000 ethnically Pakistani people living in Scotland, making them the largest non-White ethnic group. Since the Enlargement of the European Union more people from Central and Eastern Europe have moved to Scotland.

Scotland has three officially recognised languages: English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic.

Almost all Scots speak Scottish English, and in 1996, the General Register Office for Scotland estimated that between 17 and 33% of the population could speak Scots. Others speak Highland English. Gaelic is mostly spoken in the Western Isles, where a large proportion of people still speak it; however, nationally its use is confined to just 1% of the population. The number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland dropped from 250,000 – 7% of the population – in 1881 to 60,000 in 2008.

There are many more people with Scottish ancestry living abroad than the total population of Scotland. In the 2000 Census, 9.2 million Americans self-reported some degree of Scottish descent and it is estimated that there are more than 27 million descendants of the Scots-Irish migration now living in the US. In Canada, the Scottish-Canadian community accounts for 4.7 million people. About 20% of the original European settler population of New Zealand came from Scotland.


Scottish music is a significant aspect of the nation's culture, with both traditional and modern influences. A famous traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a wind instrument consisting of three drones and a melody pipe (called the chanter), which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. Bagpipe bands, featuring bagpipes and various types of drums, and showcasing Scottish music styles while creating new ones, have spread throughout the world. The clàrsach (harp), fiddleand accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments, the latter two heavily featured in Scottish country dance bands. Scotland has a literary heritage dating back to the early Middle Ages. The earliest extant literature composed in what is now Scotland was in Brythonic speech in the 6th century, but is preserved as part of Welsh literature. Later medieval literature included works in Latin, Gaelic, Old English and French. The first surviving major text in Early Scots is the 14th-century poet John Barbour's epic Brus, focusing on the life of Robert I, and was soon followed by a series of vernacular romances and prose works.

In the 16th century the crown's patronage helped the development of Scots drama and poetry, but the accession of James VI to the English throne removed a major centre of literary patronage and Scots was sidelined as a literary language. Interest in Scots literature was revived in the 18th century by figures including James Macpherson, whose Ossian Cycle made him the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation and was a major influence on the European Enlightenment. It was...
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