Reto Stöckli, NASA Earth Observatory

Scottish Geography

Where is Scotland?

Located in the northern part of Great Britain, Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom (UK). Scotland’s mainland shares its southern border with England, and the country is home to nearly 800 small islands. These include the Hebrides, Arran, Skye, and the northern isles of Shetland and Orkney.

Scotland is located in the western part of Europe, to the west of the North Sea and south and east of the Atlantic Ocean. The North Sea separates Scotland from other northern parts of Europe, in particular Scandinavia, and the Atlantic Ocean also borders Iceland and Greenland to the north, and Northern Ireland and Eire to the south-west.

Scotland is easily accessible from all parts of the world. Flight times between Edinburgh and Mumbai average under 11 hours. Flights between Scotland and New York average under seven hours, while flights between Scotland and Paris take just two hours. Paris is also accessible from London via the Eurostar, and trains from Edinburgh to London usually take under five hours, while flights are typically less than an hour’s flight time.

Scotland’s regions

Scotland is divided into a number of distinct regions, including:

  • Aberdeen City and Shire
  • Argyll and the Isles
  • Ayrshire and Arran
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Dundee and Angus
  • Edinburgh and the Lothians
  • Fife
  • Greater Glasgow and the Clyde Valley
  • The Highlands and Moray
  • Stirling and the Trossachs
  • Orkney and Shetland
  • Outer Hebrides
  • Perthshire
  • Scottish Borders

Click here to explore the different regions in Scotland.

Climate

Scotland’s climate varies greatly between regions, with some regions – for example, the western Highlands – home to wet and windy weather due to the winds which come in from the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast, the eastern side of the country, including Aberdeenshire, Fife and the Lothians, sees the same or less rainfall annually than many major cities around the world, including New York, Rome, Morocco and Barcelona.

The country’s high latitude means that winter days are short and summer days are long. Summer months in Scotland bring days with extended twilight, and in the far north of Scotland, days with no complete darkness. The northernmost parts of the country enjoy up to four hours more daylight than London during summer. July and August are usually Scotland’s warmest months, with temperatures averaging 20°C.

During the winter, Scotland often has more snowfall than more southern regions of the UK. On average, snow falls in Scotland on 15 to 20 days per year, though in the mountains in the Highlands this number rises to 100. Scotland’s coldest months are January and February, when maximum daytime temperatures average between 5° and 7°C.

Information on Scotland's weather and climate