Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. It was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which saw Scotland become one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Scotland's largest city is Glasgow, which was once one of the world's leading industrial metropolises, and now lies at the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation which dominates the Scottish Lowlands. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.
The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent state until 1 May 1707 when it joined in a political union with the Kingdom of England to create a united Kingdom of Great Britain. This union was the result of the Treaty of Union agreed in 1706 and put into effect by the Acts of Union that were passed by the Parliaments of both countries despite widespread protest across Scotland. Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and Scotland still constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and in private law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. Although Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state, the constitutional future of Scotland continues to give rise to debate.
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