Scotland (Scots: Scotland, Scottish Gaelic: Alba [ˈal̪ˠapə] (listen)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain,mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast and the Irish Sea to the south. There are also more than 790 islands, principally in the archipelagos of the Hebrides and the Northern Isles. Most of the population, including the capital Edinburgh, is concentrated in the Central Belt – the plain between the Scottish Highlands and the Southern Uplands – in the Scottish Lowlands.
Scotland is divided into 32 administrative subdivisions or local authorities, known as council areas.Glasgow City is the largest council area in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. Limited self-governing power, covering matters such as education, social services and roads and transportation, is devolved from the Scottish Government to each subdivision. Scotland is the second largest country in the United Kingdom, and accounted for 8.3% of the population in 2012.
The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI of Scotland became king of England and Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. The union also created the Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain entered into a political union with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (in 1922, the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being officially renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927).