Essay on the Geography of Scotland
Number of words: 1471
Scotland is the most northerly island of Great Britain. On the south Scotland borders England. The Atlantic Ocean borders Scotland on the west and the north. The North Sea borders Scotland to the east. Large areas of Scotland experience harsh and extreme weather, which has made it not a popular alternative among many people to settle there. Scotland is not an autonomous state. However, in 1999 the Scottish parliament was established. The decision was arrived at after a series of cries for the country to be granted self-rule. The decision to allow Scotland to create its parliament was reached at in 1997 to the relief of most people. Scotland union with the United Kingdom was done in two steps. Initially in 1603 when the Queen of the United Kingdom died, she had no real heir to take up from her. King James (VI) from Scotland took over from her and ruled until 1625 when he died of repeated illnesses. King James never revisited Scotland. Scotland was united with the United Kingdom by the act of Union that was signed in 1707. However, most of the Scottish populace were not happy being joined with Great Britain (Cairney, p 217-225). The Scotts consider themselves as unique individuals with their culture of their own. In this paper, the relationship between the climate and physical terrain of Scotland and the devolutionary process is examined. Also, the history of the people of Scotland, their culture, language and proximity to the capital city of the United Kingdom will be looked into detail and how they affect the whole process of devolution.
Physical Environment and Climate
Much of Scotland’s land surface is made up of highlands, which are considered inhabitable by a significant number of people. Scotland makes approximately one-thirds of the Great Britain Island. Its predominantly dived into three regions; Northern Highlands, Midland Valley, and Central lowlands. The regions topography seems to portray an east-west inclination. In the northern area of the country, there are many highlands; in fact, some of the United Kingdom’s tallest mountains are found in the north part of Scotland. The Scottish Highlands are predominantly known for Livestock production. The Scottish lowlands are known for their extensive agricultural applications. The North Sea area of Scotland has an abundance of oil resources that are enough to cater for the Scottish population of Five million people. The presence of oil in the North Sea has a significant relationship to the devolution process of Scotland, in that the country sees its abundance of oil resources enough to sustain the Scottish population without the help from the Central government. When the Scottish parliament was established in 1999, the parliament was given power over the mineral resources by the central government. Clearly, this is one of the underlying reasons behind the Scottish people quest for self-rule. It is evident Scotland needs full control over its expansive oil resources which have the ability to cater for its total population. Again, the extensive livestock production in the northern highlands is essential in understanding the devolution process. In 1707 when the act of union was signed to unite Scotland into Great Britain, a vast population of the Scottish people resented the decision. They did not want to be united with England as they considered themselves different. During the time, Livestock products were the main exports from Scotland. Interestingly most of Scotland’s exports were towards England. The English parliament by then threatened the Scottish populace that they will ban their exports if they did not comply with the act of the union. The Scottish people took this as blackmail, and it is still one of the underlying reasons why they want to break up (Woolvin et al., p 38-46).
Scotland experiences the temperate oceanic climate. Due to Scotland’s closeness to the northern latitude in which the USA and Canadian border exit, it is not profoundly affected by cold temperatures. They are relatively mild. The soils in the northwestern area, Hebrides, and the Shetland Islands are rocky and sparse. They can hardly support cultivation. As earlier mentioned the Scotland climate is extreme making the region barely habitable. In the earlier periods, the physical features earlier mentioned divided the Scottish people into settlement villages. Consequently, these villages led to the Scottish people developing a great sense of local identity and unity among themselves. Even now, the northeastern part of the country is filled with individuals who have a strong Scottish dialect who are hell-bent on their traditions. The Shetland islanders refer to Scotland as a region of detachment. The highlands and physical terrains have also solidified the bond between the Gaelic people of the Hebrides and the Western Highlands. Apparently as shown from above, the fact that the Shetland islanders view Scotland as a region of detachment depicts one of the underlying reasons for the devolution process of the Scottish people. Besides the additional community bonds brought about by the physical terrains explains why the Scottish people have continually agitated for autonomous governance. The active community bonds motivate their desire to break away.
People and Culture
Scotland population is composed of the Celtic Scotts who occupy the Highlands and the Western Highlands, the Anglo Saxons who are found on the lowlands and the Scottish Gaelic. The primary language spoken in Scotland is English however; Scottish dialects and its variants are widely spoken. For instance, the Scottish Gaelic people are known for their heavy Scottish accents. As earlier mentioned the Scottish people are hell bent on traditions as men are usually seen donning skirts among other archaic regalia. The main reason behind this is because they often consider themselves as a different culture and people from the English. In 1999 after the Scottish parliament was established there was a surge in the number of people interested in learning the Scottish Gaelic; perhaps evidence of the people’s desire for autonomous government. However, the desire for devolution by the Scottish people can be explained by some underlying forces in history because of their victories in the war over the English people. Different clans of Scottish descent led by William Wallace and Robert Bruce experienced victories over the English people in 1297 and 1314 respectively. It is argued these forces still push the Scottish people up to date (Mackinnon, p 47-56). Again different pieces of Scottish literature point to the inherent desire of the Scottish people to have an autonomous government. For instance, notable scholars like Adam Smith and Francis Hutcheson argued that Human beings are a product of history. They went further to state that the human beings pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Clearly, from these pieces, we can argue that Scotland’s quest for devolution is underlined by the nation’s search for happiness and the nation’s history as well.
Christianity is the most practiced religion in Scotland. Hardly any religious or ethnic strife cases emanate from Scotland. The Church of Scotland attracts large membership from people in Scotland. The church has a blend of Presbyterian and evangelical doctrines. In recent years, the church membership has been on the decrease. The church is highly civilized and is governed by numerous church courts. The court officials often meet to discuss the needs of the Scottish society. Although not documented the fact that the church officials often meet to discuss the state of the Scottish society can be thought as one of the reasons explaining the devolution process. Those integrated units in the church and other bodies have a profound effect.
Scotland’s capital city is Edinburg. The distance from Edinburg to London is approximately 400 miles; which is about 7 hours drive by car, Four and half hour drive by train. Due to this distance, it is not easy to conduct business operations, which require authorization from the central government. It is clear that this vast distance has been one of the underlying reasons between the Scottish people quest for the autonomous government, as they desire a government that is close to them and will be able to address their concerns.
In conclusion we not that Scotland’s devolution process is founded on a plethora of reasons which include but not limited to physical features, Terrain, Climate, People, culture, and history. All of them work in tandem to spur Scotland’s devolutionary process. It was also observed that the Scottish people view of themselves as individuals of a different heritage and culture as the main reason behind their bid for devolution.
Cairney, Paul. “Scotland’s Future Political System.” Political Quarterly 86.2 (2015): 217-25.
MacKinnon, Danny. “Devolution, state restructuring and policy divergence in the UK.” The Geographical Journal 181.1 (2015): 47-56.
Woolvin, Mike, et al. “Divergent geographies of policy and practice? Voluntarism and devolution in England, Scotland and Wales.” The Geographical Journal 181.1 (2015): 38-46.