The northern one-third region of the British Isles is the land of Scotland. It contains the Highlands in the northern and western portion and Lowlands in the southern and eastern section.
Gaelic traditions and language are strongest on the northwest coast, especially in the Hebridean Islands. The Northern Islands, Orkney and Shetland, with strong historical ties to Norway, are culturally distinct from the Highlands.
The Gaelic language spoken in Scotland derives from Celtic. Only a portion of the Highland Island population speaks it as a first language, although those areas have bilingual education and road signs and Gaelic newspapers.
Scottish is similar of modern English with a strong Danish influence. They had over the years a mixing from Gaelic, Norse, and Norman French which created a diverse patchwork of regional dialects, an important element in Scottish genealogy. However, extensive interactions with English and the urban mixture of regional dialects have yielded a Scots to Scottish-English range. Using the term Scots refers to cultural and political identification.
There are about 6 million people in Scotland, around sixty-five thousand who are native Gaelic speakers. People raised in Scotland will often identify as Scottish, even if they are of non-Scottish ancestry. Over the years there are many emigrates from other nations like Pakistan, China and India living in Scotland.
Cultural tensions still exist between Catholics and Protestants and Highlanders and Lowlanders within Scotland. There has been a major effort to integrating the Protestant and Catholic communities. There are ethnic tensions between the Scots and English in some areas over access to jobs and housing.
The typical Scottish diet features prepared foods and an expanded choice of fruits and vegetables. Meals such as mince and tatties (ground beef and boiled or mashed potatoes) and homemade curries are common. Scots are heavy consumers of sugar, chocolate, salt, and butter.
The clan system of Scotland is their structure of kinship and very imperative in learning Scottish genealogy. The system gives a sense of identity and shared descent to people. Each clan is located in a different geographical region. They have their own tartan patterns, some styles dating back to the 19th century. Members of a clan wear kilts, plaids, sashes, ties, scarves made of the appropriate tartan as a symbol of their membership in that clan.
The bagpipe is a musical instrument associated with the Scots, but did not originate with them. The English and Irish are also well-known for playing the bagpipes. Also, most former colonies of Great Britain use the bagpipes in parades, ceremonies and holidays.
Scottish friendliness and verbal politeness are expected in everyday life. In sports, like soccer, there can be light, humorous bantering. Two ritualized customs of politeness are the offering of tea, coffee, and sweets to house visitors and taking turns buying rounds of drinks at a pub.
The Church of Scotland has around 770,217 members, and approximately 774,550 people are members of the Catholic Church. The Episcopalians have around thirty-five thousand communicants, with a similar number distributed among smaller Protestant denominations, including many strict Sabbatarians in the Highlands, the Islands, and fishing ports of the northeast coast.