Scotland

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Rivers and Lakes

Scotland is characterized by an abundance of streams and lakes (lochs). Notable among the lakes, which are especially numerous in the central and northern regions, are Loch Lomond (the largest), Loch Ness, Loch Tay, and Loch Katrine. Many of the rivers of Scotland, in particular the rivers in the west, are short, torrential streams, generally of little commercial importance. The longest river of Scotland is the Tay; the Clyde, however, is the principal navigational stream, site of the port of Glasgow. Other chief rivers include the Forth, Tweed, Dee, and Spay.

Climate

Like the climate of the rest of Great Britain, that of Scotland is subject to the moderating influences of the surrounding seas. As a result of these influences, extreme seasonal variations are rare, and temperate winters and cool summers are the outstanding climatic features. Low temperatures, however, are common during the winter season in the mountainous districts of the interior. In the western coastal region, which is subject to the moderating effects of the Gulf Stream, conditions are somewhat milder than in the east. The average January temperature of the eastern coastal region is 3.9 C (39 F), and the average January temperature of the western coastal region is 3.њ C (37.5 F); corresponding July averages are 13.8 C (56.8 F) and 15 C (59 F). The average January and July temperatures for the city of Edinburgh are 3.5 C (38 F) and 14.5 C (58 F), respectively. Precipitation, which is marked by regional variations, ranges from about 3810 mm (about 150 in) annually in the western Highlands to about 635 mm (about 25 in) annually in certain eastern areas.

Plant and Animal Life

The most common species of trees indigenous to Scotland are oak and conifers—chiefly fir, pine, and larch. Large forested areas, however, are rare, and the only important woodlands are in the southern and eastern Highlands. Except in these wooded areas, vegetation in the elevated regions consists largely of heather, ferns, mosses, and grasses. Saxifrage, mountain willow, and other types of alpine and arctic flora occur at elevations above 610 m (2000 ft). Practically all of the cultivated plants of Scotland were imported from America and the European continent. The only large indigenous mammal in Scotland is the deer. Both the red deer and the roe deer are found, but the red deer, whose habitat is the Highlands, is by far the more abundant of the two species. Other indigenous mammals are the hare, rabbit, otter, ermine, pine marten, and wildcat. Game birds include grouse, blackcock, ptarmigan, and waterfowl. The few predatory birds include the kite, osprey, and golden eagle. Scotland is famous for the salmon and trout that abound in its streams and lakes. Many species of fish, including cod, haddock, herring, and various types of shellfish, are found in the coastal waters.

Natural Resources

Scotland, like the rest of the island of Great Britain, has significant reserves of coal. It also possesses large deposits of zinc, chiefly in the south. The soil is generally rocky and infertile, except for that of the Central Lowlands. Northern Scotland has great hydroelectric power potential and contains Great Britain's largest hydroelectric generating stations. Beginning in the late 1970s, offshore oil deposits in the North Sea became an important part of the Scottish economy.

Population

The people of Scotland, like those of Great Britain in general, are descendants of various racial stocks, including the Picts, Celts, Scandinavians, and Romans. Scotland is a mixed rural-industrial society. Scots divide themselves into Highlanders, who consider themselves of purer Celtic blood and retain a stronger feeling of the clan, and Lowlanders, who are largely of Teutonic blood.

Population Characteristics

The population of Scotland was (1991 preliminary) 4,957,289. The population density was about 64 persons per sq km (167 per sq mi). The highest density is in the Central Lowlands, where nearly three-quarters of the Scots live, and the lowest is in the Highlands. About two-thirds of the populations are urban dwellers.

Principal Cities

The most populous city in Scotland (654,542) is Glasgow. The conurbation of Clydeside, which includes the cities of Glasgow and Clydebank, is the largest shipbuilding and marine engineering center in Great Britain. Other important industrial cities are Dundee (165,548) and Aberdeen (201,099).

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