Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It has its own parliament but it is not an independent country. There is a long and complicated history behind that, but let’s not go there.
The population of Scotland is nearly 5.5 million and more people with Scots heritage live in the US than in Scotland.
I have travelled to Scotland many times and in this post, I share some fun facts about Scotland which help you to learn more about Scottish culture, food and people.
1. Some Scots lived in caves until 100 years ago
Early humans lived in caves until 10,000 years ago, but this is not the case in Scotland. Some Scots didn’t give up on living in caves until 1915 when it was outlawed. Probably it became illegal to keep coastlines free from fires during World War 1. But, some evidence shows that 55 people were still living in caves in the 1917 government census.
2. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads
Scotland has the most red-headed people in the world. 1 to 2 per cent of the world’s population has red hair, but not in Scotland.
The interesting fact about Scotland is that 13 per cent of its population is red-headed. A new study suggests that the number of Scots who carry the gene is even higher than this. This means that many people who don’t have red hair can still produce red-haired children.
3. The world’s first colour photograph was taken in Scotland
Nowadays, nothing is easier than taking photos, we don’t even need a fancy camera as long as we have our phone with us. But did you know that the first colour photograph was produced by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1861? More than 160 years ago!
The photo was a tartan ribbon.
4. Scotland has approximately 800 islands
Scotland is made up of approximately 790 islands. While the number of inhabited islands has risen up in the last decade, there are still 660 uninhabited ones.
The largest Scottish island is Lewis and Harris and the most popular one is the Isle of Skye. The best way to visit Scottish islands is to take island hopping tours.
5. The world’s UFO capital is in Scotland
Scotland is home to some of the strangest places in the world. As an example, you can find some of the most haunted sites in Edinburgh, and just one hour drive from Edinburgh, there is a small town, called Bonnybridge.
This town has become the UFO capital of the world. Around 300 sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects are reported every year in Bonnybridge. So if you believe in things from out of this world, you should definitely check this town out.
6. The first city to have its own fire brigade was in Scotland
The history of the firefighter began in ancient Rome, and there has been significant improvement since then, but the first organised municipal fire brigade in the world was formed in 1824 in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
7. The world’s commercial Shortest flight route
Loganair, a Scottish regional airline carries out the shortest commercial flight in the world.
The flight is between two islands in Orkney, north of Scotland. It takes you longer to read this article than to take this flight since it is only in the air for 1 and a half minutes and travels just 1.7 miles (2.7km).
8. Scotland’s National Animal is Unicorn
You might think that unicorns just appear in stories or fairy tales, but this fictional creature is actually the official national animal of Scotland. I know it might sound odd, but Scotland is famous for its love for myths and legends, so this should not come as a surprise to you.
The unicorn is the symbol of purity and power.
9. Scotland helped the development of the world
Some of the most significant products we are using these days have been invented in Scotland. Let’s start with the famous one: Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish scientist, who invented the first working telephone. We all need to thank him. I don’t know how the world would be without phones.
The world's first live working television and fridge were invented in Scotland too.
Scots also invented the flushing toilet. Now you can see how Scotland played an important role in the development of our modern world.
10. Football was banned in Scotland
Playing football and golf was so popular in the 15th century that many people instead of practising archery preferred to spend their time playing golf and football. As a result, King James I banned playing both games.
This was not the only time football was banned in the country. This happened quite a few times until the 20th century.
11. There is a real monster in Scotland
Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie? Yes, there are movies about this monster but it is real and lives in Loch Ness in Scotland.
Many locals and tourists have seen it, and Scientists suggest that people saw what could be just a giant eel, who knows. If you want to find out the truth, you should probably go to the lake yourself.
12. Haggis is banned in the US
Scotland’s national dish is called Haggis. The traditional haggis is made from sheep’s pluck mixed with onions, and some herbs.
But this Scottish dish has been banned in the US since 1971 when the US Department of Agriculture prohibited sheep lungs, one of the key ingredients of haggis.
13. Scotland has 3 official languages
Scotland has three officially recognised languages: Scots, English, and Scottish Gaelic. While almost everyone in Scotland speaks English, just one per cent of the Scottish population uses Scottish Gaelic.
And the fun fact is that the 2011 Scottish Census found that more than 150 languages other than English are used in Scottish homes.
14. The Scots invented golf
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that golf was banned in Scotland as it was seen as a distraction from military training, but the fact is that the modern game of golf we are familiar with originated in this country in the 15th century. Since then, golf has been a popular game in Scotland.
In summary, Scotland might not be a big country, but it has had a big impact on the world we live in now.