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Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a nation in northwest Europe and one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shares a land border to the south with England. It 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 southwest. Apart from the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Scotland's largest city is Glasgow, which is the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation. Greater Glasgow is home to approximately 40% of Scotland's population. Scottish waters consist of a large sector 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's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and Scotland still constitutes a discrete jurisdiction in public and in private international law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have been the three cornerstones contributing to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. However, Scotland is no longer a sovereign state and does not have direct membership of either the United Nations or the European Union.
Main article: History of Scotland
 Early Scotland
Main article: Prehistoric Scotland
Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land-mass of modern Scotland, have destroyed any traces of human habitation before the mesolithic period. It is believed that the first post-glacial group(s) of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 11,000 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last ice age. Groups of settlers began building the first permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, and the first villages around 6,000 years ago.
Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement, located in the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of mainland Orkney.A site from this period is the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the Mainland of Orkney. Neolithic habitation, burial and ritual sites are particularly common and well-preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone.
The written history of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. Part of southern Scotland was briefly controlled by Rome. To the north was Caledonia, territory breifly conquered by the Romans from 79-87 A.D. The name represents that of a Pictish tribe, the Caledonii, one amongst several in the region, but perhaps the dominant tribe. Pictland became dominated by the Pictish sub-kingdom of Fortriu. The Gaels of Dál Riata, an Irish tribe called the Scots, peopled Argyll. From this people came Cináed mac Ailpín, who united the Kingdom of Scotland in 843, when he became the King of the Picts and Scots. According to legend, the Scottish Saltire was adopted by King Óengus II of Fortriu in 832 after a victory over the Northumbrians at Athelstaneford.
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Argyll & the Islands
Caithness & Sutherland
Inverness & Nairn
Moray, Badenoch & Strathspey
Ross & Cromarty
Skye & Lochalsh
the Western Isles
Dumfries and Galloway
Edinburgh and Lothian