Scotland

POPULATION

The current population of Scotland is 5.295 million.

LOCAL TIME

During the winter months, England is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 10 hours behind Sydney.

From late March until late October, the clocks go forward one hour to British Summer Time (BST).

To check the correct time, contact the Speaking Clock service by dialling 123

LANGUAGE

English is the main language, though you’ll hear Scots spoken in many places too. Gaelic (pronounced gah-lick) is also spoken in some parts of Scotland, particularly in the Outer Hebrides where it is used by roughly 60 percent of the population.

RELIGION

Christian 59.4%, Non-religious 24.7%, Islam 5%, Other 7.2%

VISA REQUIREMENTS

You may require a holiday visa to visit Scotland; this will depend on your nationality and why you are visiting.

If you are from outside of the EU, you might need a visa. It depends on how long you are planning to stay and why you are visiting. You can find out more on https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/tourist-short-stay-visas.

The same rules apply to citizens of most, but not all, South American and Caribbean countries as well as Japan.

European Union citizens, non-EU member states of the EEA (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), Switzerland, and members of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) are exempt from needing a visa to enter the UK.

Please note that visa rules change regularly. To check if you require a visa, please visit the official UK government website https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.

CURRENCY

Scotland’s currency is the pound sterling (£), which is divided into 100 pence (p).

Scotland has its own pound sterling notes. These represent the same value as an English note and can be used elsewhere in Britain, although it is usually with reluctance. The Scottish £1 note is not accepted outside Scotland.

There are lots of bureaux de change in the U.K. – often located inside banks, travel agents or Post Offices, as well as at airports and major train stations. It's worth shopping around to get the best deal and remember to ask how much commission is charged.

ELECTRICAL CURRENT

Scotland enjoys a constant electricity supply throughout the country (including the Highlands and Islands). Power cuts are rare and are usually fixed very quickly.

Visitors from abroad will need a "Type G" electrical adapter for appliances that have been brought from home, such as portable computers, hairdryers and phone chargers.

WEATHER

All Scotland’s seasons offer something different:

Spring (March, April, May) – seeing leaves and plants bursting into life, watching newborn animals playing, sitting by a tranquil river bed at the start of the fishing season, celebrating Whisky Month, Tartan Day and Easter.

Summer (June, July, August) – strolling in the sunshine, enjoying a luxurious ice cream, having a blast at a festival or a traditional Highland games, cycling through a leafy forest or along the glittering coastline.

Autumn (September, October, November) – walking on carpets of golden leaves, seeing migrating birds flying overhead, celebrating St Andrews Day, waking up to a shimmering frost.

Winter (December, January, February) – lounging by cozy fires, taking winter walks, playing in the snow, shopping at Christmas fairs, celebrating Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

Winter temperatures in Scotland average from about 2 °C to 6 °C, rising to peak in the summer months of July and August, at around 12 °C to 19 °C. On the whole Scotland boasts a largely temperate, if changeable(!), climate that is rarely extreme on either end on the spectrum. But that’s not to say you won’t enjoy colder days in the winter, when the mercury dips to freezing and the countryside turns into a winter wonderland, or brilliant days in the summer, when the sun bathes the countryside in light and warmth.

GETTING TO England

Since England is on an island, it is not possible to drive directly into England from outside Great Britain. Motorists have two choices to enter England from outside Great Britain, by various car ferry routes, or the Channel Tunnel.

GETTING AROUND BY PLANE

Scotland has various airports. However, the two main points of entry are Edinburgh and Glasgow.

SHOPPING

What is VAT?

VAT is a 20% sales tax charged on most goods and services sold in Britain – exceptions are food, books and children’s clothes.

How does tax-free shopping work?

When shopping, ask the retailer for a VAT 407 form. It’s important to note not all shops will participate in the scheme and some may have a minimum purchase price (often around £75). They may ask for proof you are eligible so bring a passport or national identity card.

To get your money back, show the VAT form, the goods and your receipts to customs at the point when you depart. Customs will approve your form if everything is in order. You then take the approved form to get paid.

What cards can I use in the Scotland?

Credit cards, debit cards and contactless payment types are widely used throughout Britain. Visa and Mastercard are the most common type of cards, while American Express and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted.

Does everywhere accept credit cards?

Some small shops, guesthouses, markets and cafés may not accept cards or may have a minimum spend (usually around £5), so always check in advance of your purchase. Cards that are accepted are usually displayed in the windows.

Britain uses the “chip and pin” system more often than a signature. For purchases under £20 contactless forms of payment may be accepted.

Can I get cash out with my credit or debit card?

A credit or debit card allows you to obtain cash advances up to your credit limit at any bank and cash dispenser displaying the appropriate card sign. You will probably also incur a currency exchange fee.

Opening Hours

Most shops are open from 9am - 5pm, but some may stay open later and there are many that open at the weekend too.

Most bars and pubs stay open till midnight while nightclubs will be open longer.

On public holidays, banks, offices and some shops, restaurants and attractions close, and transport networks may run a limited number of services.

Tipping

Although there isn’t a big tipping culture in Scotland, it is quite common to tip in restaurants or taxis when you receive good service.

10 percent is a good rule of thumb though most people will be delighted with any amount of tip.

TELEPHONE

Your mobile should switch onto a UK network while you’re here, though charges for calls and data vary. Check with your own provider before your holiday.

You may need to inform your network operator in advance of your trip, so that the “roaming” facility can be enabled. When abroad, you will be charged for the calls you receive, as well as for the calls you make; in addition, you have to pay a substantial premium for the international leg of the call.

It is easier and cheaper to purchase a SIM card locally and top it up with credit. This will allow you to use the local mobile-phone networks, though you can only do this if your handset is not locked to a specific network.

Alternatively, you could buy a brand new phone and top up with a pay-as-you-go card. Make sure the phone you buy can accept international calls. Check that your insurance policy covers you in case your phone gets stolen, and keep your network operator’s helpline number handy for emergencies.

Calling North America: Dial 001 and your 10 digit number

Emergency numbers in Scotland: 999

Weights & Measures

Scotland is officially metric, in line with the rest of Europe. However, imperial measures are still in use, especially for road distances, which are measured in miles. Imperial pints and gallons are 20 per cent larger than US measures.

Imperial to Metric

1 inch = 2.5 centimetres
1 foot = 30 centimetres
1 mile = 1.6 kilometres
1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 454 grams
1 pint = 0.6 litres
1 gallon = 4.6 litres

Metric to Imperial

1 millimetre = 0.04 inch
1 centimetre = 0.4 inch
1 metre = 3 feet 3 inches
1 kilometre = 0.6 mile
1 gram = 0.04 ounce
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

THE NAME scotland

The name "Scotland" derives from the same Celtic root as the name Albion, which properly designates the entire island of Great Britain but, by implication as used by foreigners, sometimes the country of England, Scotland's southern neighbor which covers the largest portion of the island of Britain. The term arguably derives from an early Indo-European word meaning 'white', generally held to refer to the cliffs of white chalk around the English town of Dover, ironically located at the furthest end of Great Britain from Scotland itself. Others take it to come from the same root as "the Alps", possibly being an ancient word for mountain and therefore related to the north end of Britain.

Information courtesy of Visit Scotland.

For more information: www.visitscotland.com

 

 

 

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