About Scotland  

Scotland (Alba in Gaelic) is a nation in northwest Europe and a constituent country of the United Kingdom. The country occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain, shares a land border to the south with England, and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the south-west. Apart from the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands.

The capital, Edinburgh, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Scottish waters consist of a large sector [1] of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.

The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union resulted in a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Scotland continues to constitute a separate state and jurisdiction in Public International Law. Scots law, the Scottish education system and the Church of Scotland have been three cornerstones contributing to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union.

BEN NEVIS the highest peak in the British Isles, is in Lochaber, the wettest district in the British Isles. The climate of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and as such is much warmer than areas on similar latitudes, for example Oslo, Norway. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of -27.2C (-16.96F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on February 11, 1895 and January 10, 1982 and also at Altnaharra, Highland, on December 30, 1995. Winter maximums average 6C (42.8F) in the lowlands, with summer maximums averaging 18C (64.4F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9C (91.22F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on August 9, 2003.

In general, the west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, due to the influence of the Atlantic ocean currents, and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is the sunniest place in the country: it had 300 days of sunshine in 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest place, with annual rainfall exceeding 3,000 mm (120 inches). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 inches) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar experiences an average of 59 snow days per year, while coastal areas have an average of less than 10 days.

Golf (gowf in Scots) originated in Scotland and has been played for at least five centuries in the British Isles. The oldest course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh. Golf, in essentially the form we know it today, has been played on Scotland's Musselburgh Links since 1672, and earlier versions of the game have been played in the British Isles and the low-countries of Northern Europe for several centuries before that.

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A brouhaha could be brewing between Scotland and China after release of a report that claims golf was invented in China 500 years before the Scots say they invented it. Professor Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University says he's uncovered evidence of golf being played in China as early as 945 A.D., citing references in a book of a prominent magistrate instructing his daughter to "dig goals in the ground so that he might drive a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick." The professor claims golf was exported to Europe by Mongolian travelers in the late Middle Ages. The Scots, predictably, have their kilts in a knot over the claim. A story in the UK newspaper The Herald indicates the two sides clearly can't even agree on the word "clearly." Ling: "This misunderstanding can be corrected. Golf, as we know it today, clearly originated in China." Spokesman for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club: "Stick and ball games have been around for many centuries, but golf as we know it today, played over 18 holes, clearly originated in Scotland."