Ah Scotland, home of Outlander, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, golf, and so much more. There are several fascinating facts about Scotland. For example, the national flower is the thistle and the country is home to hundreds of castles. In fact, Edinburgh Castle is even built on top of the remains of a volcano. Poor yourself a dram of whisky (not whiskey) and enjoy these fun facts about Scotland.
Facts about Scotland:
- College is free in Scotland. Scotland abolished tuition fees in 2001 but it did include a post-graduation fee to the Scottish government. This applied for those earning at least £10,000 per year. In 2008, the Scottish government got rid of the post-graduation fee. Sadly, this only applies if you’re a student from Scotland (or from the EU). And you must have started in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier).
- Scotland is #1 cocaine consuming country in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 3.9 percent of Scottish residents aged between 16 and 64 used the cocaine in the last year. Researchers also found that in Glasgow, cocaine can be delivered “more quickly than a pizza”.
- The curling stones used in the Olympic Winter Games all come from Scotland. Olympic curling stones are made of a rare type of granite that can be found on a little island called Ailsa Craig off the coast Scotland. Founded in 1851, Kays of Scotland has the exclusive rights to the Ailsa Craig granite and therefore is the sole supplier of curling stones used in competition by the World Curling Federation. Every curling stone ever used in the Olympic Winter Games has come from Scotland with the exception 2022 games in Salt Lake City.
- Golf as we know it was developed in Scotland. There is much debate among historians as to the origins of golf, as stick and ball games had already been around for centuries. However, the modern version of golf (played over 18 holes) no doubt originated in 15th century Scotland. The Scots ushered golf into its present form by developing it over the decades. In 1744, the first-known rules of golf were put down in writing in Edinburgh.
- The Bank of Scotland is the oldest surviving bank in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1695, it was also the first bank in Europe to print its own bank notes.
- The first municipal fire brigade in the world was established in Scotland. The Edinburgh Fire Engine Establishment was formed in 1824. That year was also the year of The Great Fire of Edinburgh. The fire raged for five days and was one of the most destructive fires in the history of the city.
- Traditional Scottish haggis is banned in the United States. Since 1971, it has been illegal to import haggis into the US from the UK when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) enacted a ban on food containing sheep lung – which constitutes 10–15% of the traditional recipe.
- Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink in virtually every country in the world except for Scotland. While a Coca-Cola-owned drink is the number one soft drink just about everywhere in the world, the top spot in Scotland belongs to a local brew called Irn-Bru. The drink is so loved it has been called “Scotland’s other national drink” – after whisky. Twenty cans of Irn-Bru are sold in Scotland every second.
- There is a village in Scotland named Dull which has a sister city named Boring, Oregon. Since 2012, the town of Dull in Scotland has been twinned with the town of Boring, Oregon in the United States. In 2013 Australia added Bland Shire in what has become known as the ‘Trinity of Tedium’.
- Scotland once had a national elephant polo team. Elephant polo is a variant of polo played while riding elephants. The sport was even co-founded by a Scot, James Manclark a Scottish landowner and former Olympic toboggan racer. The world championships had been staged annually in the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The Scots fielded a team almost every year and even won the championships in 2001 and 2004. Thanks in no small part to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, elephant polo has been banned worldwide since 2018.
- Scotland is not an independent country. Scotland is not a sovereign state. It is actually the second largest country in the United Kingdom. In 2014, Scotland held a referendum on independence with the vote to remain part of the United Kingdom, with 55% voting against the proposal for Scottish independence.
- London has a larger population than Scotland. As of 2021, the population of Scotland is estimated to be 5.5 million. London’s population at the same time was 9,425,622.
- Scotland played in the first ever international football match. FIFA recognizes the 1872 association football match between the national teams of Scotland and England is the first official, international game of football. It took place at Hamilton Crescent, the West of Scotland Cricket Club’s ground in Partick, Glasgow. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.
- The Raincoat was invented in Scotland. Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh invented waterproof fabric in 1823. The word mackintosh (or mac) has become a general term for any type of waterproof outercoat or raincoat.
- Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn. Evidence of the unicorn’s connection to Scotland dates back to the 12th century when it was first used on a Scottish coat of arms. The coat of arms was supported by two unicorns until King James VI of Scotland, succeeded Queen Elizabeth 1st of England to become King James the 1st of England in 1603. At this time, the English lion was incorporated side by side with the Scottish unicorn. Today, the UK’s coat of arms showcases the lion on the left side of the shield and a unicorn on the right side. However, Scotland’s royal coat of arms features a unicorn on the left and a lion on the right.