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Real simple, is Scotland a country and why/why not?

There seem to be conflicting views all over the internet. Most of it seems to be personal views and opinions, I'm interested in facts. Most of them seem to disagree on what a country is as well which I find strange, is it that much of a grey line?

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Actually that link is wrong, it says the United Kingdom is made up of 4 sovereign countries. If Scotland was sovereign then my question would be answered but it's not. –  Ross Drew Dec 14 '13 at 11:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Scotland is a country, but not an independent country. In other words, it's not a Sovereign state.

Wikipedia defines a country as:

A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated peoples with distinct political characteristics.

It's quite possible to draw an analogy between the sub-divisions of the United Kingdom and American states - they're both sub-entities of a larger country which have the ability to run themselves within certain limits. However, because Scotland has a long history of being an independent country and the states don't, the terminology is different.

Further reading:

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That's the problem I'm having, that "country" seems to be such a flexible definition. That Wikipedia entry seems to suggest that anything that used to be a sovereign political division is a country but does that still apply if the country has become another country (Abyssinia, Ceylon) or the political boundaries have changed (Bengal, Catalonia) or indeed in Scotlands case, if it doesn't change but merges with another country. –  Ross Drew Dec 10 '13 at 18:38
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I would say anything that used to be a country is still considered a country if it retains some self-governance separate from the parent country. If it doesn't, then it's ceased to exist. –  Bobson Dec 10 '13 at 18:42
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But as the first "further reading" link says, there really isn't any universal definition, so all you have is convention. Since people call it a separate country, it is one. –  Bobson Dec 10 '13 at 18:43
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@RossDrew - Even during that time, it had it's own laws. I haven't found anything either way, but I suspect that the Parliament of Great Britain could have (and probably did) pass Scotland-specific legislation. So it remained a separate entity, even if it wasn't self governing. Whether it would be a country or not during that time really boils down to what people thought of it as. –  Bobson Dec 10 '13 at 19:05
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The Scottish legal system is distinct from the English/Welsh one, and many Scottish specific laws have been passed. –  DJClayworth Dec 10 '13 at 20:31

Yes it is a country, as is England, both of which are members of the United Kingdom due to a shared Sovereign. Indeed, the sovereign sits on the Stone of Scone, the throne of the ruler of Scotland, during the coronation. They also have their own house of parliament, have issued their own bank notes, and this past year - as a country - voted on whether to remain a part of the United Kingdom or whether to become an autonomous nation. As a nation, they decided to remain part of the UK - and that vote WAS made as a nation with an inherent right to determine that choice.

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I would try to draw parallels from Russian language.

In Russian the word for country is strana.

It has different meanings:

  • A sovereign state.
  • An area with distinguishing features such as landscape, flora, fauna, people etc.

As you may know, Russia and the former USSR had some sub-national entities called "republics". But we do not call them "countries" because they are not independent. But if they become independent, we start to call them by the word for country. For instance, Ukraine was not a country when it was part of the USSR, but now we call it a country.

This reflects the first meaning.

The second meaning of the word one can observe when we can say that "Antarctica is the country of eternal ice", "Tibet is a country of the high mountains". In these sentences we do not mean that these are independent states but merely areas with distinguished features. We also could use the word for kingdom here, figuratively, without implying they were monarchies.

Thus Scotland may be viewed as an area with distinguished features, such as landscape, mountains, folklore etc.

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I am pretty sure Ukraine and the other soviet republics were considered countries when they were part of USSR. Ukraine even had a seat at the United Nations. They were of course not independent countries. (I do not know if there is more specific vocabulary in regard to this is Russian, especially considering totalitarian regimes likes to invent vocabulary for this kind of stuff) –  Bregalad Apr 28 at 18:00
    
@Bregalad they werent considered countried in Russian language. –  Anixx Apr 28 at 18:43
    
Ok, that's surprising. Thanks for your information (I'll also delete my other comment since it's wrong) –  Bregalad Apr 28 at 19:12

Short Answer: is not country. Its a región of the United Kingdom. Like the Baltic countries, were countries then they cease to exist and became part of the soviet Union, then separated from the soviet Union and became countries again. Or like Puerto Rico, that's not a country, not even a US state. It's a U.S. territory en of the story,.

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From Wikipedia: "Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom..." As Bobson points out, there's no concrete definition of what a country is. If a country considers itself a country, it is. Puerto Rico isn't a great comparison, as it's unincorporated. –  DA. Dec 25 '14 at 19:17
    
Well the short answer is wrong Scotland is a country within the United kingdom under law it is a country. Wales use to be a province, but was declared a country by the EU a number of years ago, both have flags and have parliaments, the defining issue is the head of state, which of course is the queen. Scotland under law is defined as is Wales but not NI as countries in their own rights. –  Sid whathisname Apr 14 at 10:10

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