The mainland of Scotland is surrounded by a lot of islands: Orkney and Shetland to the north-east and the Hebrides to the west. The east coast of this fascinating country is agricultural, while the spectacular west coast attracts many tourist because of the beauty of the landscape and the islands.
The two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, are only a short distance away from each other - about 50 minutes by train - but Edinburgh is on the east coast while Glasgow is on the west coast.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, but Glasgow, which stands on the River Clyde and has a population of about 615.000, is the biggest city in Scotland.
Edinburgh is a beautiful, open city with lots of green spaces. It is a vibrant, dynamic city which attracts a lot of young people and it is famous for its castle and arts festival in August.
In the 19th century Glasgow was one of Europe's leading industrial cities. The main industry was shipbuilding. In the 20th century this industry declined because modern city offering many cultural events. Other important cities are Dundee and Aberdeen on the east coast.
The north is known as the Highlands. This area is mountainous, inhabited mainly by wildlife. If you are lucky you might see a stag and you will certainly see lots of sheep and some Highland cows. The highest mountain in Great Britain is in the Grampian Mountains near Fort William. It is called Ben Nevis (1,334 m high)
A geological fault cuts the Highlands in two. This area is known as the Great Glen and it contains four lochs one of which is the famous Loch Ness.
These lochs are joined by the Caledonian Canal making it possible to sail from Winter on the east coast to Fort William on the west coast. Nowadays the canal, which is 100 km long, is used mainly for tourism.
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