MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Scotland is an administrative and political region of the United Kingdom. It is located on the northern part of the island of Great Britain and adjacent islands: the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. Its main territory is bound by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the north, and the North Sea on the east, and borders England to the south.
In ancient times Scotland was inhabited by the Picts and Gaels. Scots moved there in the late 5th-early 6th centuries (hence the name Scotland). Scots adopted Christianity and were vigorously engaged in missionary activities.
A unified Kingdom of Scotland was finally established by the 11th century. England had a decisive influence on Scotland's political life. Scottish kings were repeatedly compelled to fight for their homeland's independence. With the consolidation of the Stuart dynasty on the English throne (1603), Scotland formed a personal union with England. In 1651-1652 it became attached to England with the loss of attributes of independence. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to officially form the Kingdom of Great Britain. A struggle for independence was launched almost immediately after the formation of the union. An ardent supporter of independence, the famous poet Robert Burns shared the opinion of many of his compatriots that the Scottish signatures under the Act of the Union were bought with English gold.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) was formed in 1934 through the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party. In 1945 it won a bi-election seat in the British Parliament for the first time. Following the general election of 1974, 11 SNP nominees became MPs, but in the 1979 election only two nominees survived. In 1987-1998 the SNP occupied only a few seats in the House of Commons and was considered small.
Trying to increase support from the Scottish people, Labor came up with the notion of restoring the Scottish Parliament at the national elections in 1997. Scots voted "yes" on the referendum. The Scotland Act, adopted in 1998, gave the Scottish people the right to institute their own parliament and administration, headed by the first minister of Scotland.
After coming to power, Tony Blair's Labor Government launched devolution in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a process in which the central government at Westminster transferred many of its powers to the regions. Scotland has had its own parliament and executive government since 1999, but their responsibilities are mostly limited to education, healthcare, transport, environmental protection among other spheres. Traditionally Scotland has always had its own judiciary.
In 2007 the SNP formed a Scottish governmental coalition with the Liberal Democrats. It received the majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament in 2011. This victory allowed it to announce its intention to implement provisions of its program on holding a referendum on Scottish independence.
In October 2012 British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond signed an agreement on holding the referendum in the autumn of 2014.
On 15 January 2013 the House of Lords approved the holding of the referendum on independence following its endorsement by the House of Commons.
Scotland is one of Britain's wealthiest regions. Its receives per capita 15 percent higher expenditure higher than the national average. Out of Britain 12 regions, per capita GDP is higher only in London and adjacent Southeastern England. If Scotland receives independence it will fall between France and Germany in this indicator.
Edinburgh is Europe's fourth financial center, and Scotland even mints its own currency: the non-convertible Scottish pound.
Scotland's industry, including shipbuilding and agriculture, is dynamically developing. It has a large IT cluster that has been dubbed Europe's Silicon Valley.
It produces a third of Europe's and seven percent of the world's brand-name computers. Its electronics industry accounts for about half of its total exports.
Oil is one of Scotland's main resources. Oil revenues account for 13 percent of its GDP (and four percent inf Britain's GDP).
About 40 billion metric tons of oil was produced since 1964, when the British Government issued the first license for developing deposits in the Northern Sea. The remaining resources, which are not yet being developed, are estimated at a little more than half of this : 24 billion metric tons, which will last for about 30 or 40 years.
Production of whisky is a major contributer to the Scottish economy. In 2013 its whisky exports were worth 4.3 billion pounds.
Tourism is also an important industry. Every year it brings Scotland about 5.4 billion pounds and provides some 167,000 jobs. Over 42 million tourists visited Scotland in 2013, spending 2.9 billion pounds.