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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Issues relating to the geography and politics of the United Kingdom and nearby territories can be surprisingly complex and controversial, and the subjects raised in this FAQ regarding the Scotland article are best understood in this context. We aim to be enyclopaedic and neutral. We also recognise that reconciling diverse views can be hard work as common phrases are sometimes interpreted in different ways in different cultures. We ask that editors new to this page read the following with an open mind. Where necessary, please research the facts rather than simply jumping to conclusions based on what you "know to be true".

Lead section

Q1: Is Scotland a "country"?

A1: Numerous reliable sources support the view that Scotland is a country—see for example the article entitled Countries of the United Kingdom, and a table of references at Talk:Countries of the United Kingdom/refs. This view is shared with other reputable encyclopedias. There has been a long-standing consensus to describe Scotland in this way.

This is one of the most frequent questions raised by visitors to this talk page. However, in the absence of a formal British constitution, and owing to a convoluted history of the formation of the United Kingdom, a variety of terms exist which are used to refer to Scotland[1], England, Northern Ireland, Wales and the UK itself. Reliable and official sources support use of the word "countries", and this term has broadly won preference amongst the editing community. Note however, that a country is not the same as a "sovereign state", and that "constituent country" is also used in other parts of Wikipedia. The community endeavours to achieve an atmosphere of neutrality, compromise, and camaraderie on this issue.

Q2: Why don't we refer to Scotland as a "nation"?

A2: Widespread confusion surrounds the use of the word "nation". In standard British English, and in academic language, a nation is defined as a social group and not a division of land. This is also the approach taken in the article entitled nation, across Wikipedia and in other major encyclopedias (for example, the Scottish people and the Québécois are described as "nations"). The term Home Nations is generally used only in sporting contexts. It is not used in major reputable sources outside of sport.

Infobox-related issues

Q3: Why are two flags used?

A3: There have been extremely complex discussion about these matters. The Royal Standard of Scotland (commonly referred to as the "Lion Rampant") was used by the King of Scots until 1603. Today, its correct use is restricted to official representatives of The Monarch.[2] The blue and white Saltire is the flag of Scotland and is widely used by national and local government offices and in numerous other less official capacities. As with other issues described here this outcome is to some extent a compromise solution that seems to suit all parties in that it identifies symbols of Scotland as an entity in its own right, whilst also emphasising the importance of the relationship with the United Kingdom.

Q4: Isn't Flower of Scotland the national anthem?

A4: There is no official Scottish national anthem. Although there is no doubt that Flower of Scotland is currently amongst the most popular unofficial national anthems in Scotland, it is not the only one, nor even the longest established.

Q5: What is the reference to the "Scots language" about?

A5: Scots is spoken by 30% of the Scottish population (approximately 1.5 million individuals) according to the 1996 estimate of the General Register Office for Scotland.[3] It is recognised by the European Union's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[4] By contrast, Scottish English is a variation of standard British English. Whilst the distinction is by no means clear cut, Wikipedia policy permits the use of Scottish English words and phrases where appropriate. Scots, on the other hand, has its own site: see the Scots Wikipedia.

Q6: Isn't the present monarch the first Queen Elizabeth to reign over Scotland?

A6: Yes, but "Elizabeth II" is her legal title, as resolved in Scots law in the legal action entitled MacCormick v. Lord Advocate.

Related issues

Q7: What is the difference between "Great Britain" and the "United Kingdom"?

A7: See the article entitled "Terminology of the British Isles". Great Britain is the name of the largest island that the UK encompasses, and is not generally used in source material as the name of the sovereign state.

Q8: Isn't Northern Ireland a province, and Wales a principality?

A8: This view is supported by some sources, but the current consensus amongst the editing community is aligned to a greater body of work which describes both Northern Ireland and Wales as countries. However, the terms are not all mutually exclusive: a country can also be a principality or a province, and these terms are mentioned throughout Wikipedia as alternative names in afternotes.


  1. ^ Scottish Parliament. "Your Scotland questions; Is Scotland a country?". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2008-08-01. As the UK has no written constitution in the usual sense, constitutional terminology is fraught with difficulties of interpretation and it is common usage nowadays to describe the four constituent parts of the UK (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) as 'countries'. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ The "Lion Rampant" Flag The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved on 10 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Scotland's Languages" University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 December 2008. The proportion is said to rise to 90% in the North East.
  4. ^ Both Scots and Scottish Gaelic are officially recognised as autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. See "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" Scottish Government. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
Former good articleScotland was one of the Geography and places good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
April 14, 2006Good article nomineeListed
August 12, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
December 29, 2006Good article reassessmentKept
May 12, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
October 2, 2007Good article reassessmentKept
January 25, 2008Peer reviewReviewed
January 13, 2009Good article reassessmentKept
January 9, 2019Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article

GA reassessment[edit]


Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · WatchWatch article reassessment page • GAN review not found
Result: Delist Givin the size, scope and number of issues outstanding I feel the best way forward is to delist and allow interested editors to address the concerns without the added pressure of a reassessment. I will add a few comments in this close regarding the identified issues and how they relate to the GA criteria. I would say page numbers in books are required for verifiable. Reviewers and readers should be given all the information they need to find where the information comes from and having a short statement sourced to a large book does not usually meet the spirit of criteria 2. I would also say that going over 78 KB prose is not a reason to cut information in an article this broad. The other points hold and there are a number of outstanding maintenance tags on the article that will need to be dealt with before renominating. AIRcorn (talk) 08:27, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Delist: This is a poorly maintained GA article that no longer meets the criteria. Many statements lack an inline citation, which might be acceptable if there was a "General References" section where readers could verify the information. There isn't, so it fails WP:V. In addition, a partial search of the references identified the following issues (see talk page):
  • Potentially unreliable sources:
  • a WP:SPS. See this RSN discussion. Refs 2–5. Removed
  • looks like a WP:SPS. Ref 44 Removed
  • Kinneil Estate: a wordpress blog. Ref 45 Removed
  • Rampant Scotland: looks like a WP:SPS. Refs 176 and 352.
  • Partial citation without enough information to identify the source: 43 (Bryson), 121 (Evans), 122 (Sereny) Fixed this
  • Many of the book citations are missing page numbers. This isn't necessarily an issue with the GA criteria, but in some cases these references are supporting direct quotes or controversial information, such as "the one internationally recognised Scottish landmark". How are readers supposed to verify that without a page number?
  • Some citations do not support the content that they purport to, for example the citation in "Scottish Music" supports very little of the content in that section; the paragraph beginning with "Scotland's universities are complemented" is not supported by the ref.
  • There is overcite in some cases, see cleanup tags on the article.
  • The coverage in some areas is inadequate: for example, the section on Scottish literature does not mention any Gaelic writers, such as Nobel Prize nominee Sorley MacLean.
  • Also, some areas are too detailed for WP:SUMMARY: an entire paragraph (!) about what titles British monarchs are allowed to use in Scotland. Fixed this, at least.
  • "Other currently less popular candidates for the National Anthem of Scotland include Scotland the Brave, Highland Cathedral, Scots Wha Hae and A Man's A Man for A' That"—potentially controversial information without a citation. This has been fixed

I have sourced those "candidates" to a couple of newspaper articles and rewritten that sentence. Jmorrison230582 (talk) 15:18, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

  • Direct quote with no source or citation: "largest electrified rail network outside London"
  • Some of the prose is not NPOV: for example, "unrivalled anywhere in Britain", "Thoughtful Scots pondered their declension, as the main social indicators such as poor health, bad housing, and long-term mass unemployment, pointed to terminal social and economic stagnation at best, or even a downward spiral. Service abroad on behalf of the Empire lost its allure to ambitious young people, who left Scotland permanently."
  • Another POV issue is the paragraph beginning: "During the Second World War", which omits the fact that German bombers targeted England more because it was closer and therefore easier to get to.

I have rewritten the sentence regarding the Blitz. Jmorrison230582 (talk) 09:22, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

  • Some parts of the article do not meet MOS:IMAGELOC: sandwiching in the "Demographics" section
I could go on. There's been a little bit of progress in the last week towards resolving these issues, but not nearly enough to bring it up to GA quality. buidhe (formerly Catrìona) 17:38, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
The copyvio report found some close paraphrasing that needs to be fixed. buidhe (formerly Catrìona) 20:52, 9 January 2019 (UTC) Removed copyvio. buidhe 21:27, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • We've made some progress, but there are still no sections for art or architecture. At 78k prose after significant cuts, the article will have to be trimmed to make room for the additions. I suggest that the history and government sections could be cut somewhat. buidhe 21:15, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • The verifiability problems are extensive. I just checked more than a dozen references and found that a majority did not support the content. Furthermore, the excessive use of official sources is evident; a close look proves that they are used to support opinion-based statements such as "The MOU lays emphasis on the principles of good communication, consultation and co-operation". This article is very far from passing the verifiability criterion of the Good Article criteria. buidhe 01:35, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

UK Prime Minister[edit]

Has anyone thought about adding the British Prime Minister to the Infobox below Parliament of the UK? I just find it strange that it’s not there already! The office is the head of the central government of a sovereign state that Scotland is currently part of, so why not add it? What’s everyone views on this? (talk) 23:03, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

Would you note it at Clackmannanshire? Mutt Lunker (talk) 23:44, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

Clackmannshire is a county. (talk) 23:48, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

To paraphrase you "The office is the head of the central government of a sovereign state that Clackmannanshire is currently part of, so why not add it?" Mutt Lunker (talk) 00:39, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
I wouldn't add it. Just like I wouldn't add the Canadian prime minister to the infobox of Ontario. -- GoodDay (talk) 23:57, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
Why wouldn't you, the monarch is listed and they are monarch as Scotland is part of the larger sovereign state, by that principle the UK Prime Minister should be listed as well. Finchley59 (talk) 20:28, 22 April 2021
Good point, though on the contrary it's a good argument for removing Betty from the box as well. Mutt Lunker (talk) 19:48, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
Interesting point - has Betty got the option/used royal prerogative powers to interfere with bills passed by the Scottish Parliament, in the same way she has with the UK Parliament (to stop many things including investigations of her private wealth, check if any valuables in Royal ownership were thieved, ensure her family doesn't pay all taxes etc.)? If so then in a way she is involved in the Scottish democratic process, by acting as an unelected and unaccountable screen on anything passed by Scotland's democratic body that she doesn't like. SFC9394 (talk) 23:03, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
To quote from our article, Royal assent, Royal assent is the final stage in the legislative process for acts of the Scottish Parliament. The process is governed by sections 28, 32, and 33 of the Scotland Act 1998.[29] After a bill has been passed, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament submits it to the monarch for royal assent after a four-week period, during which the Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Advocate, the Attorney General or the Secretary of State for Scotland[30] may refer the bill to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (prior to 1 October 2009, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) for review of its legality. Royal assent is signified by letters patent under the Great Seal of Scotland as set out in The Scottish Parliament (Letters Patent and Proclamations) Order 1999 (SI 1999/737) and of which notice is published in the London, Edinburgh, and Belfast Gazettes. So it is obvious that the Queen has no power to interfere with Scottish legislation but must approve it after the legal officers have signed it off. --Bill Reid | (talk) 10:53, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
Stepping aside from the arguments above - what would a reader who knows little about Scotland want to know? Remembering that most who consult Wikipedia do not read the whole article, the info box is particularly important. The fact that Scotland is a constitutional monarchy begs the question: "who is the monarch". Not including this in the information box rather devalues the article for a reader. Similarly, one has to make a detailed reading of the article to discover (by inference?) that the Prime Minister of one of the two parliaments that governs Scotland is Boris Johnson. (If you look at (for instance) [1] you see that "Scotland has two governments....".) The info box gives a confusing mention of a Secretary of State at Westminster - there is no mention of a UK Prime Minister. Again, this is something that short-changes the reader who is looking for information. At the very least, the section "Politics and government" should say who the Prime Minister is. ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 12:50, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
As I said before, noting the UK prime minister is no more pertinent here than it would be at the Clackmannanshire article or, for that matter Tillicoultry. They are the prime minister of an entity that includes Scotland and includes Clackmannanshire and Tillicoultry but they do not hold a post particular to Scotland or Clackmannanshire or Tillicoultry. Mutt Lunker (talk) 14:42, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
The Clackmannanshire article illustrates quite well the point I am trying to make. What information would the encyclopaedia reader expect to find out easily from the article? In the info box we find out that Clackmannanshire is in the United Kingdom, and in Scotland. We find out the name of the local council and that there is no overall political control of that council. Then we learn who represents it as (1) an MP and (2) and MSP. This summary of the political information does not swerve away from the fact that Clackmannanshire is in the UK, nor does it avoid mentioning the fact that it is represented in Westminster. This is a quite reasonable summary of the facts - and what a reasonable reader would expect to learn. Mutt Lunker's reductio ad absurdum argument does not conceal the whole purpose of Wikipedia - to be a good encyclopaedia. In meeting this standard, surely the reader would expect, in this article, to see some mention of who leads the parliament to which it elects 59 MPs - and it seems reasonable to include that in the info box. I hesitate to make the accusation (because I may have misunderstood other editors' reasons for their views), but I worry that a bit of nationalist fervour may be degrading the reasonable expectations of information content for this article. ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 18:22, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
I note you haven't advocated noting the UK prime minister in the Clackmannanshire infobox: would that make a good or a baffling encyclopedia? And it is not a reductio ad absurdum, it's a comparable circumstance; they're both political subdivisions of the UK. The very first sentence states that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, so anybody wanting to find out about the latter's government need only click. It's not being hidden. It's perfectly pertinent to mention the Secretary of State for Scotland because their brief is, well, Scotland, the subject of the article. The Scotland infobox also mentions the Westminster MPs, thought not all by name like the Clackmannanshire one for obvious reasons, so that is no illustrative point of difference. Baseless attributions of political motivation only show the deficiencies of your case and I've also been called out as a quisling and a lackey of the unionist state in the past, so maybe your effort evens things up and I'm getting the balance right. Hesitating, to think, would have been your better course. If you want to take matters away from Scotland and the UK, do you think the North Rhine-Westphalia article is impoverished by having no mention of the federal chancellor or president? No doubt due to rampant North Rhine-Westphalian nationalist editors. Mutt Lunker (talk) 19:24, 23 April 2021 (UTC)


What is the explanation for this edit? There was no edit summary ... GPinkerton (talk) 06:33, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

"Foreign is a reserved matter", I would have thought it was obvious, your new wording was poor and added nothing of value -----Snowded TALK 06:59, 9 January 2021 (UTC)
Snowded, Oh right, I didn't notice I missed out "policy"! It was in fact my intention to remove only the extraneous words. Why do we need to say "power and ability" when either word would suffice alone? GPinkerton (talk) 07:11, 9 January 2021 (UTC)
Well the meaning is different and dropping power made the phrase a little weak, especially as I think there is a duty there as well. -----Snowded TALK 09:27, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

Infobox religion[edit]

There seems to be a considerable amount of religions listed in the infobox. Wouldn't Church of Scotland be sufficient enough as this is the countries national church? Goodreg3 (talk) 01:36, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

Of course not. It currently represents the full picture. Mutt Lunker (talk) 01:39, 14 January 2021 (UTC)
But where does it end? Other articles, such as England do not have such long lists. There are not even any percentages provided to give the section some meaningful information. Unless you can provide any. Goodreg3 (talk) 01:41, 14 January 2021 (UTC)
I have provided percentages for religion based on the 2011 census, which I feel gives more meaningful information to this section of the infobox. Goodreg3 (talk) 01:50, 14 January 2021 (UTC)
I have added the religion_year parameter to reflect the date of the census GPinkerton (talk) 09:47, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

Scotland as a nation[edit]

Is the category Scottish emigrants to England (and the reverse) a valid category (despite having only one member at present)? Philafrenzy (talk) 20:50, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 16 March 2021[edit]

The Director General and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland is Caroline Lamb. (talk) 23:42, 16 March 2021 (UTC)

 DoneBelwine (talk) 06:46, 17 March 2021 (UTC)