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Scotland is a small country in the northern part of the British Isles. Along with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its geography is characterised by mountains, islands, and lochs, and its history has long been tied up with its larger neighbour to the south, England. The Scottish king James VI, became king of England in 1603, ruling as James I. The two countries' parliaments united in 1707. Scotland's capital is Edinburgh. As well as English, the Scots dialect and the native Gaelic language can also be heard here.
Scottish politics have been dominated in recent years by the workings of the Scottish parliament, although the Westminster government is still very important. Scottish art and literature reflects its long history, as does its language and culture. Sport in Scotland centres around football (soccer), but it is also the home of golf and other sports.
Scotland's official flag is a white St Andrew's cross, or saltire, on a blue background. Unofficially, a flag with a red lion rampant on a yellow background is often used. This was formerly the banner of the Scottish king, and is still part of the Queen's royal coat of arms. The saltire is combined with England's St George's cross and Northern Ireland's red saltire on white, associated with St Patrick, to give the distinctive Union flag of the United Kingdom, commonly known as the Union Jack.
Scotland's cities are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling, and Inverness. Off the west coast lie many islands known as the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The Shetlands and Orkney Isles stretch to the north. Scotland's lochs include the famous Loch Ness, home to the Loch Ness Monster, and the beautiful Loch Lomond, inspiration to authors and songwriters.
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Scottish government and politics
Scottish art and literature
Scottish Universities and Colleges