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Its people are feisty, opinionated and fiercely loyal. The country is wild, untamed and beautiful. The bad climate adds an edge to both. Buoyed by the continued irritant of England on its doorstep, Scotland has survived encroachment, brass-monkey weather and the annual influx of stand-up comedians arriving for the Edinburgh Festival. But its people have a rock-solid identity and sense of self. On top of that, the Scots haven't eaten their waterways and forests bare. Scotland's lamb, beef, venison, trout and salmon are highly prized, and game birds such as grouse and pheasant abound. Wash all this down with a shot or two of the world's best whisky and you'll be warming very quickly to the Scottish way of life.


Area: 78,772 sq km (30,414 sq mi)
Population: 5.1 million
Capital city: Edinburgh (pop 453,000)
People: Celts, Anglo-Saxons
Language: English, Gaelic
Religion: Presbyterian Church of Scotland, other Presbyterian churches, Anglicans, Catholics
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister: Tony Blair
First Minister: Jack McConnell

GDP: US$90 billion
GDP per head: US$18,000
Annual growth: 3%
Inflation: 3%
Major industries: Banking and finance, steel, transport equipment, oil and gas, whisky, tourism
Major trading partners: EU & USA
Member of EU: yes
Euro zone participant: no


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