With a population of over 5 million people, Scotland is the second largest country of the United Kingdom. It is also the most rugged with vast areas of mountainous terrain covering great swathes of the country. Scotland is also made up of a myriad of islands: an archipelago of dozens of these can be found lying to the west and these include The Hebrides; to the north you will first reach the Orkney Islands and then if you continue in the same direction, you will reach the most northerly part of the UK, The Shetland Islands.
The Southern Uplands form a natural border with England in the far south of the country. Above this is an area that is known as The Central Lowlands and this is where the vast majority of the population of Scotland resides. Further north you re-enter hilly areas and eventually reach the totally awe-inspiring and wilderness landscapes of The Highlands. This is by far the least populated region of the UK and it is actually home to a smaller population today than it held one hundred years ago. This would mainly be because the weather in this part of Scotland can be notoriously unforgiving throughout much of the year.
The two largest cities of Scotland lie in The Central Lowlands. Glasgow is the largest city and has a population of around three quarters of a million inhabitants (third largest city in the UK). Around twenty to thirty years ago few, if any, articles would be suggesting that you should spare time to visit this city. However, Glasgow has undergone massive regeneration projects and has managed to turn its image and reputation completely around. The Glasgow of today is a proud and cosmopolitan city with plenty to offer any avid visitor.
Moving east, we reach the capital of Scotland - Edinburgh. With a population of under half a million, it is quite a bit smaller than Glasgow. Edinburgh is definitely one of the most outstanding cities in the whole of the UK. The architecture and oldie worldie charm exudes from every corner of this magnificent city and will never fail to impress any onlooker. Edinburgh manages to combine its proud past alongside the more contemporary. Edinburgh Castle sits atop of an ancient volcano and provides an impressive landmark that can be viewed in all directions; Holyrood is where you will find Scotland’s Parliamentary building and this proves how restless many Scots are at being a part of the United Kingdom.
The second most densely populated part of Scotland is along the coast that lies on the North Sea (the east coast). Just north of Edinburgh are the towns of Perth and Dundee and then if you travel even farther north, you eventually reach Scotland’s third city of Aberdeen. This is also known as the ‘Granite City’ and when you see what much of the architecture consists of in this part of the world, you will soon see why.
One of the most famous tourist attractions that Scotland has become synonymous with worldwide is Loch Ness. This is mainly through the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and even in the twenty-first century, there are still many locals who claim that they have caught a glimpse of this huge, prehistoric beast, that is believed to dwell in the darkest depths of this ancient lake. There are dozens of tours of the Loch available for keen tourists and the city of Inverness provides an ideal base for any trip to this part of Scotland.
Scotland is diverse and there is every conceivable attraction to enthral even the fussiest of tastes. It is a very big country and several days need to be set aside to really be able to explore it all.