Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (comprising England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). Great Britain refers to the island of Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales. Scotland has an area of 78,000sq km, including around 800 islands, 130 of which are inhabited. The coastline is rugged and its length is estimated to be almost 10,000km.
Scotland is about half the size of England and around two thirds of the country is mountain and moorland. Although the Highlands account for more than half the total area of Scotland, only 10% of the population lives there. Scotland has a declining population of around 5 million, the majority of whom live in the Central Lowlands in the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee and Perth.
The country can be broadly divided into three distinct geographical areas:
The Southern Uplands
Comprise the area south of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is a gently undulating, predominantly rural landscape with the hills of Galloway in the west and the Cheviots in the east, bordering England.
The Central Lowlands
Comprise a triangular shaped area from Glasgow in the west, Edinburgh in the east and Stonehaven in the northeast. The bulk of the population lives in this area.
The Highlands and Islands
The Highland Boundary Fault runs from Helensburgh in the southwest to Stonehaven in the northeast. Everything north of this fault line is considered to be in the Highlands. The country’s main mountain ranges lie in this region, interspersed with river valleys (glens). The most fertile land lies near the coast. The Highlands are bisected by the fault line of the Great Glen, which runs between Inverness and Fort William. A glance at a map will show that the country was very nearly split along this fault line. Today the fault line lies beneath a series of lochs (including Loch Ness) and the Caledonian Canal.
The climate of Scotland is temperate (apart from the Highlands where the weather can be extreme at any time) and tends to be changeable. Temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK. Taking the year as a whole, the eastern side of Scotland has higher average sunshine hours and lower rainfall than the west. It is not unusual to have four seasons in a day-sunshine, hail, rain and frost- within 24 hours. During the winter months, the days are very short, but this is amply compensated by long summer days with an extended twilight. It is still light at 10pm in June. There is a misconception that Scotland suffers from very high rainfall. In fact, long-term averages of rainfall show that over 6000 square kilometers of the country have less than 800 millimeters (31 inches) of rainfall annually. The average annual rainfall is 821mm, compared to 610 in London and 1064 in Cardiff. In Aberdeen, temperatures in winter can vary between +12 and -9 degrees (centigrade) and in the summer between 10 and 23 degrees with a possibility of temperatures dropping in the evening to around 3 degrees.
Whilst it can snow any time between November and March, in general snow does not tend to lie for long in the city itself and roads are kept clear. Outlying areas are a different matter, though main routes into Aberdeen are usually well gritted for early morning travelers. Winter tires are not necessary unless you choose to live somewhere rural and remote.
Aberdeen is the third biggest city of Scotland with a population of approximately 200,000 for the city of Aberdeen and roughly 230,000 for the local surrounding areas. Aberdeen is also known as Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. These names come from the grey granite constructions of the locally build houses, which will sparkle in the light of the sun. Aberdeen started off as a fisherman’s village but since the 1970's, Aberdeen is also known as the Oil Capital of Europe due to the oil discovery in the North Sea. The Oil industry remains the biggest source of employment in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen in general has a large expatriate community as there are many international oil companies with offices in the city. Nearly 6% of Aberdeen’s population was born outside the UK. Aberdeen is a great and family friendly city to live in. With many choices of primary and secondary schooling, 2 large universities, museums, theaters, lovely parks, a long and sandy coastline with many outdoor opportunities and castles to visit. Weather you would like to go for a nature walk or are into playing golf. Or would like to go skiing in the winter months or would like go seal and dolphin watching over summer. Aberdeen, Aberdeen shire and beyond have it on offer.