Places in World Most Likely to Secede Scotland

About Scotland a place in the world likely to secede from Great Britain, size, population, and history of conflict.



Size: 30,411 sq. mi. (78,765 sq. km.).

Population: 5.2 million.

Cool and hilly, Scotland occupied the northern 37% of Great Britain and includes the Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, and other islands. The Scottish Lowlands divide the southern agricultural Uplands from the granite Highlands. Glasgow, twice as large as Edinburgh, the capital, is Britain's third-largest city and biggest industrial complex.

Through centuries of internal strife and successions of warrior kingdoms, several ancient peoples became fused into a unified national identity. Original Scots came from Ireland before the 10th century; Norsemen also intruded into the domains of native Celtic and Pict tribes. Though English is the main language, traditional Gaelic is still understood by about 200,000 Scots. Revival of Lallans, the Scots' vernacular, has also faded. Almost 40% of all Scots reside in the urban industrial region of the Clyde River.

The kingdom of Scotland was established in 1018 by conquest of the immigrant Scots over other resident peoples. Scottish royal succession eventually dictated a union with the English ruling family, but the combination of monarchies by marriage proved Scotland to be the unequal partner. Subsequent wars of independence were successfully led by William Wallace in 1297 and Robert Bruce in 1314. Not until 1603 was a final union of the crowns effected in the person of James VI (son of Mary, Queen of Scots), who succeeded Queen Elizabeth as James I. Scotland has been an integral part of Great Britain ever since, achieving parliamentary representation in 1707. The secretary of state for Scotland is its official executive.

While Scots have always insisted on their own cultural identity, the growing influence of the Scottish National party, established in 1928, reflects several recent trends toward independence. Scots nationalism, offering few coherent programs of its own, has functioned mainly as a protest movement against a centralized London government that pervades all Scottish affairs, yet appears unable to cope with genuine local problems. Economic backwardness of the Highlands and overcrowded housing in the Lowland industrial area are two major problems, and Scots want more flexibility to deal with them.

Hardly more than a political fringe group for years, the SNP made significant election gains in 1967. A decade later, it was the second-strongest party in Scotland, polling only 6% less of the vote than the Labor Party. The "devolution bill," which passed the House of Commons on Nov. 16, 1977, provides Scotland with its own legislative and executive branches, but no revenueraising powers.

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