What is Scotland?

According to Wikipedia: “Scotland… is a country that is part of the United Kingdom”.

Again, according to Wikipedia: “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland… is a sovereign state off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country is part of an archipelago that includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands.”

These two descriptions seem contradictory to me. How can the country of Scotland be part of another country (the United Kingdom)? Europe is a conglomeration of countries, but doesn’t considered itself a country. So if Scotland is rightfully a country, how can it be part of another country.

“Country” is an ill-defined term, which is why people resort to more precise terms such as “sovereign state” when discussing the UK. Scotland certainly is a country by various reasonable measures, not least among them the feeling of the people who live there that it is a separate country. There are other reasons to consider Scotloand a country in its own right - its separate legal system, its parliament, its culture, its history, and so on. But it is not a sovereign state. In terms of sovereignty, its status is more like that of, say, Texas compared to the United States.

A non-American might just as well ask how a state can be part of a country. Like so many other things in life, the definition of “country” or “state” is just messy.

Don’t get so hung up on the English language. It’s full of confusion; this is a good thing.

The USA is a sovereign state. It’s also made up of 50 states. The UK is a sovereign country. It’s also made up of 4 countries.

Only true Scotsmen know the answer to this question.

Might this help?

The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained

Do languages other than English also have this lack of preciseness? Can we blame Latin for this confusion? I still don’t see how confusion can be a good thing…

That video is good explanation. Sort of.

Do you go through Customs when traveling from Wales to England to Scotland to Northern Ireland? Does an Englander need a passport to go to Wales? or Scotland?

I don’t think so, because the OP does understand the difference between the UK and its constituent countries. Also, there are several inaccuracies in that video.

No, you don’t. It seems that the UK is a confederation of former states…

“Englander”? Only Nazis in cheesy war films say that. “Englander schweinhund! Achtung!”

Um, anyway, no you don’t need a passport to travel around the UK.

I can’t say much about other languages, but Latin is definitely not the problem. English is a very versatile language though. New things and concepts are constantly arising, and in English new words arise faster than other languages.

But the problem with State and Country is that there is no specific definition for either since their inhabitants (or non-inhabitants) decide what constitutes a State or Country without consulting the dictionary.

Confusion is a good thing politically, it allows two opposing sides to think they are both right.

I don’t know. I’m not a linguist.

But English - irrespective of other languages - is full of a marvelous and beautiful array of dialects and different meanings. I love them! I love how a Scotsman and a Texan can share a common language yet straddle such a wide gulf linguistically speaking. I enjoy meeting Americans with turns of phrase that are entirely new to me. It’s a feature, not a bug.

Although, despite my above post - “Englander” is not a good choice of word unless you wish to emulate a WWII nazi.

I still remember decades ago in a foreign relations class I was taught that a state is a sovereign geographic region that has widespread external and internal legitimacy. I specifically remember the instructor saying that we should forget entirely the “fifty states” and instead view the United States itself as a state, and France as a state, Canada as a state etc. Essentially state was the “proper” term for “country” which was considered more vague and less well defined.

I don’t think my instructor would recognize Scotland as a sovereign state because it doesn’t have external legitimacy, meaning other sovereign states do not treat with Scotland as its own entity but instead deal with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Statesmanship and diplomacy sometimes has need of categories that don’t fit neatly in a hierarchical listing. Thus the rather complex status of some of the UK dependencies and Channel Islands, the federalism of the US, or the tightening confederation of the EU. Country may merely indicate a geographic area, while the word nation implies that sovereignty is recognized by other nations.

I think you’re right that “country” suggests a geographical area, but I would say that “nation” means something more like “ethnicity” rather than “sovereign state”. Etymologically, it comes from the same root as other Latin words related to birth, and it means something more like “tribe”. There are many non-sovereign-state examples, such as the Cherokee Nation, or the Six Nations.

Scotland is referred to as a “country” to be diplomatic. It isn’t one by the usual definition, but the definition is stretched so that the Scots feel a bit better about their real situation. Their real situation is that they are part of the UK, the governance of which is dominated by England. However, best to throw the Scots a bone lest they go all Braveheart about it.

But they have their own money and their own parliament and they are constantly seeking more independence. Scotland and England do have the same Head of State - but I forget what she’s called.

I don’t see a trend toward less independence for Scotland - only more. We arrogantly assume that because something has been some way for 50 or 100 years it’s ridiculous to think that things will ever change. England and Scotland and Wales go way, way back… like way back to before you were even born.

Scotland doesn’t have its own money. There are Scottish bank notes, true, but they are tokens of the same currency that is used in the rest of the UK.