Scotland lies in the northern third of Great Britain. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the North Channel and the Irish Sea with a border to the south shared with England. The Scottish mainland and its 790 islands are part of Great Britain Great Britain is made-up of England, Wales and Scotland. To add to the confusion is that the “United Kingdom of Great Britain” includes Northern Ireland.
In 1706 the “Treaty of Union” was formed between the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England. The following year the “Acts of Union” was created and passed by both parliaments and became Great Britain. Today, self-governing Scotland is within a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II as the Queen.
Glasgow is the largest city with Edinburgh being the capital. Most of Scotland’s major cities and towns lie in what is called the “Central Belt.” 62% of the population consider themselves to be Scottish, 18% Scottish & British, 8% British only -- with the remaining percentage being foreigners.
Glaciation covered the entire area of what is now considered Scotland. This led to vague documentation of the early history of people and the area. The first known village dates back approximately to 6,000 years ago. Because of the ice age that impacted the area, growth of forests and trees was limited - most of the structures built were of stone. It was not until the middle-ages that it was named Scotland.
Trade with Colonial America rapidly grew with having some of the fastest clipper ships with major shipping routes to Virginia. Until the American Revolution, Glasgow dominated the tobacco trade in the colonies as well as throughout the world.
During World War I Scotland provided manpower, ships, machinery, food and money to the war efforts. One quarter of the over half a million men that went to war died in combat or from related diseases – with more than 150,000 seriously wounded.
Scotland’s economy hit a low in 1922, not recuperating until 1939. World War II helped to regain prosperity to the country -- despite extensive damage from bombings. The economy worsened after the war due to competition in the industrial arena. Resurgence in the economy has been achieved due to financial services and electronic manufacturing as well the gas and oil industry.
The climate is very changeable. It has mild winters due to the Atlantic Gulf Stream -- its summers are cooler and wetter. Annual rainfall varies with a few places having recorded as much as 118.1 inches. Heavy snowfall is not common especially in the low lying areas. Coastal areas often see less than 10 days of snow each year.
A little more than 54% of the population considers themselves Christian. Most of the remaining population reports not having a specific religion. The Church of Scotland (aka as “The Kirk”) has a Presbyterian system governing the church and are independent from the state. The Roman Catholic population claims 19% of the 54% of Christians. The third largest church in Scotland is the Scottish Episcopal Church.
As Scotland has a long and honored military tradition, their armed forces are now part of British Armed Forces. Today, Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde is located northwest of Glasgow.
Scotland has a long and rich heritage and is highly developed in drama, poetry and music. The traditional wind instrument, the Great Highland Bagpipe, can be heard throughout the area. Drums and bagpipes create the music of Scotland. For dancing traditional instruments are the harp, fiddle and accordion.
Scotland hosts several music festivals each year as well as events geared towards language, music and dance. There is no official national anthem,
Flowers of Scotland is often played at special events. A point-of-interest is that the unicorn is considered the national animal.
Throughout the world Scotland may be best known for Loch Ness and its monster.This notorious creature is said to inhabit the 754-foot deep lake. The legend of “Nessie” is very mysterious and manifests itself in many ways. There is no real basis and to explain the sightings – it is said that they are hoaxes. It was in 1933 that the first photograph of “Nessie” was released. Sightings go way back to the sixth century A.D. Loch Ness has more water than all the lakes in England and Wales together. Actually most of the freshwater lochs are said to have a monster(s) living in their waters. For all it is worth, no monster has been seen up close (if there is one) -- due to an high peat content in the water causing poor visibility.
Scottish cuisine has tradition all of its own. Simplicity with a lack of spices, as to import spices was rare and costly. But, European, British and international foods and recipes, as well as French cooking have had major impact.
Early on the nature of Scottish foods was that they should not soil quickly. It was tradition to carry foodstuffs in small bags; such as sheep or pig’s stomachs. Using the small bag idea may have come from invaders who traveled long distances from Scandinavia.
A favorite with the Scottish is a savory pudding containing animal organs, oatmeal, suet and spices cooked in sheep’s stomach. It is much easier to buy at specialty markets than to make yourself. But, here is a recipe for those of you who want to attempt making your own Haggis.
1 each of sheep stomach, liver, heart & tongue
½ lb. minced suet
3 medium onions, minced
3 – 3½ cups toasted dry oats (1/2 pound)
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground dry herbs
Clean stomach thoroughly by rinsing and soaking overnight in cold salted water. Rinse the liver, heart & tongue. In a large pot cook these parts over medium-heat for 2 hours – set aside some of this cooking water. Remove and mince, removing and discard any gristle or skin. In a large bowl combine all the animal meat, suet, onions and toasted oats. Add salt, pepper & dried herbs. Mix in some of the cooking water so the mixture binds. Remove stomach from cold salted water and fill 2/3 with mixture. Sew the stomach closed. With a fork pierce stomach several times to prevent the haggis from busting. In a large pot of water, gently place the haggis with care as not to splash water. Cook over high heat for 3 hours. Remove from water, cut stomach bag open. Wonderful when served with mashed potatoes.
GOOD COOKING! GOOD EATING!
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