Scotland: Did You Know?

20 Interesting Facts About Scotland & its Sport Culture

You might know Scotland as the northernmost country in the UK, that shares a border with England. The one with spectacular scenery, a rich history, and great whiskey. But did you know, that Scotland is made up of 790 islands, 660 of which are uninhabited? Or that the first official international football match was played there? Read below for more fascinating facts about Scotland and its largest city, Glasgow - the host destination for our first International Sport Business Program this summer! 


1.    The national animal is the unicorn and the national symbol is the thistle. 


2.    Scotland has the highest percentage of natural redheads in the world (approximately 13% of the population has red hair).

3.    Scots invented major modern-day technology including the first TV (John Logie Baird, 1925) and the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell, 1876).

4.    Scotland has more than 6,000 miles of coastline and over 600 square miles of freshwater lakes including the famous Loch Ness. The tale of the Loch Ness Monster dates back to its first recorded appearance in 565AD when a "water beast" attacked a man swimming in the water. St. Columba is said to have seen and spoken to the beast telling it to go back.


5.    The national dish of Scotland is haggis. Haggis is made of sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, lungs) minced with salt, spices, onion, oatmeal and suet, and boiled inside the animal's stomach.

6.    The Britannia Panopticon, located in Glasgow, is the world’s oldest surviving music hall. The venue came to life in the 1850s and continues to host performances today.

7.    More than 2,000 castles have existed in Scotland.

8.    The Glasgow Subway is the third-oldest underground metro system in the world. 

9.    Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city – was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade.

10.  Scotland is a favorite and frequent holiday destination for the British Royal family who spend their time at their private Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside.

Balmoral Castle.jpg


1.    The first official international football (soccer) match was played in 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket ground between Scotland and England. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. 

2.    St Andrews Links is regarded as the "Home of Golf". The origin of the modern game can be traced back to Scotland in the 15th century. 

3.    Glasgow hosts the most successful football club in the world, the Rangers FC. The club has won more than 100 trophies, including a record 54 League titles.

4.    Hampden Park in Glasgow holds the European record for attendance at an international game - 149,415 (Scotland vs England in 1937).

5.    Scottish cyclist Sir Chris Andrew Hoy is one of the most successful Olympic cyclists of all time, holding six gold medals and one silver. The velodrome in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow has been named the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in his honor.

6.    Curling was invented in Scotland in the 16th century. The first written evidence of the birth of the sport appeared when, John McQuhin, a notary in Scotland, created a challenge between a monk (John Sclater) and a representative of the abbot (Gavin Hamilton). Sclater threw a stone across the ice three times to show he was ready for the contest.

7.    Inspired by the rolling hills of Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish blacksmith Kilpatrick MacMillan is credited with the invention of the world’s first pedal-driven bicycle, made of wood, in 1839.


8.    Tennis in Scotland dates back to 1539 when King James V had tennis courts built at his residence, Falkland Palace. The Royal Court took two years to complete and are the oldest tennis courts still in use today. 

9.    Shinty, a sport that dates back to the 6th century, originated in Scotland and was used to train medieval warriors for war. Shinty is a fast and very physical team game using camans (curved wooden sticks) and a small leather ball. 

10.  Other competitive sports in Scotland, some that might catch you by surprise, include: munro-bagging, stone skimming (the World Stone Skimming Championships are held on Easdale Island in Scotland), the Ba’ game, Highland dancing, caber toss, Tug O'War, porridge making (yes, it’s very competitive, and Scotland hosts the annual World Porridge Making Championships!) and haggis hurling. 


Eager to experience the country and sport culture yourself? Apply now to join our team in Glasgow, Scotland this June! Check out the full program details here.