South Africa the Republic of South Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation, it is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status; the remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European and multiracial ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures and religions, its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, the fourth highest number in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white South Africans.
The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, regular elections have been held for a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics; the National Party imposed apartheid in 1948. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in 1990. Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the country's liberal democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity in the wake of apartheid; the World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, a newly industrialised country.
Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, the 34th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa; however and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, maintains significant regional influence; the name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation, the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, reflecting its origin from the unification of four separate British colonies. Since 1961, the long form name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa". In Dutch, the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Since 1994, the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages. Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning "south", is a colloquial name for South Africa, while some Pan-Africanist political parties prefer the term "Azania".
South Africa contains human-fossil sites in the world. Archaeologists have recovered extensive fossil remains from a series of caves in Gauteng Province; the area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been branded "the Cradle of Humankind". The sites include one of the richest sites for hominin fossils in the world. Other sites include Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child in 1924. Further hominin remains have come from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo Province and Florisbad in the Free State Province, Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Klasies River Mouth in Eastern Cape Province and Pinnacle Point and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape Province; these finds suggest that various hominid species existed in South Africa from about three million years ago, starting with Australopithecus africanus. There followed species including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei, Homo naledi and modern humans.
Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170,000 years. Various researchers have located pebble tools within the Vaal River valley. Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were present south of the Limpopo River by the 4th or 5th century CE, they displaced and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu moved south; the earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people; the Xhosa reached the Great Fish River, in today's Eastern Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age populations
The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General and Supreme Court; the Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union.
It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, dubbed'the world's legal capital'. Netherlands means'lower countries' in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre above sea level, nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of 41,500 square kilometres —of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres —the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, intensive agriculture; the Netherlands was the third country in the world to have representative government, it has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848.
The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women's suffrage in 1917, became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development, quality of life, as well as happiness; the Netherlands' turbulent history and shifts of power resulted in exceptionally many and varying names in different languages. There is diversity within languages; this holds for English, where Dutch is the adjective form and the misnomer Holland a synonym for the country "Netherlands". Dutch comes from Theodiscus and in the past centuries, the hub of Dutch culture is found in its most populous region, home to the capital city of Amsterdam.
Referring to the Netherlands as Holland in the English language is similar to calling the United Kingdom "Britain" by people outside the UK. The term is so pervasive among potential investors and tourists, that the Dutch government's international websites for tourism and trade are "holland.com" and "hollandtradeandinvest.com". The region of Holland consists of North and South Holland, two of the nation's twelve provinces a single province, earlier still, the County of Holland, a remnant of the dissolved Frisian Kingdom. Following the decline of the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders, Holland became the most economically and politically important county in the Low Countries region; the emphasis on Holland during the formation of the Dutch Republic, the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, made Holland serve as a pars pro toto for the entire country, now considered either incorrect, informal, or, depending on context, opprobrious. Nonetheless, Holland is used in reference to the Netherlands national football team.
The region called the Low Countries and the Country of the Netherlands. Place names with Neder, Nieder and Nedre and Bas or Inferior are in use in places all over Europe, they are sometimes used in a deictic relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Oben, Superior or Haut. In the case of the Low Countries / Netherlands the geographical location of the lower region has been more or less downstream and near the sea; the geographical location of the upper region, changed tremendously over time, depending on the location of the economic and military power governing the Low Countries area. The Romans made a distinction between the Roman provinces of downstream Germania Inferior and upstream Germania Superior; the designation'Low' to refer to the region returns again in the 10th century Duchy of Lower Lorraine, that covered much of the Low Countries. But this time the corresponding Upper region is Upper Lorraine, in nowadays Northern France; the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled the Low Countries in the 15th century, used the term les pays de par deçà for the Low Countries as opposed to les pays de par delà for their original
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Wales is a country, part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Bristol Channel to the south, it had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2. Wales has over 1,680 miles of coastline and is mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit; the country has a changeable, maritime climate. Welsh national identity emerged among the Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr restored independence to Wales in the early 15th century; the whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party.
Welsh national feeling grew over the century. Established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly for Wales holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation. Two-thirds of the population live in South Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea and the nearby valleys. Now that the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, Wales' economy depends on the public sector and service industries and tourism. Although Wales shares its political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, a majority of the population in most areas speaks English as a first language, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is bilingual. Over 560,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west.
From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", in part due to the eisteddfod tradition. At many international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales has its own national teams, though at the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of a Great Britain team. Rugby union is seen as an expression of national consciousness; the English words "Wales" and "Welsh" derive from the same Germanic root, itself derived from the name of the Gaulish people known to the Romans as Volcae and which came to refer indiscriminately to all non-Germanic peoples. The Old English-speaking Anglo-Saxons came to use the term Wælisc when referring to the Britons in particular, Wēalas when referring to their lands; the modern names for some Continental European lands and peoples have a similar etymology. In Britain, the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with the Britons, including other non-Germanic territories in Britain and places in Anglo-Saxon territory associated with Britons, as well as items associated with non-Germanic Europeans, such as the walnut.
The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. These words are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen"; the use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the location in the post-Roman Era of the Welsh people in modern Wales as well as in northern England and southern Scotland. It emphasised that the Welsh in modern Wales and in the Hen Ogledd were one people, different from other peoples. In particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage and language to the Welsh; the word came into use as a self-description before the 7th century. It is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan c. 633. In Welsh literature, the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples and was the more common literary term until c. 1200. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh.
Until c. 1560 the word was spelt Kymry or Cymry, regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland. The Latinised forms of these names, Cambrian and Cambria, survive as lesser-used alternative names for Wales and the Welsh people. Examples include the Cambrian Mountains, the newspaper Cambrian News, the organisations Cambrian Airways, Cambrian Railways, Cambrian Archaeological Association and the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. Outside Wales, a related form survives as the name Cumbria in North West England, once a part of Yr Hen Ogledd; the Cumbric language, thought to
Alinghi 5 is a 90 ft, 90 ft beam sloop-rigged catamaran built by Alinghi for the 33rd America's Cup. She was launched on 8 July 2009 when she was lifted from the construction shed in Villeneuve, Vaud by a Mil Mi-26 helicopter and carried to Lake Geneva, she was subsequently carried to Italy. At the end of September 2009, the boat was shipped to Ras al Khaimah, the venue selected by the defender for the 33rd America's Cup. At the end of October 2009, the New York Supreme Court ruled that the venue of Ras al Khaimah was not compliant with the Deed of Gift. After various discussions, Société Nautique de Genève agreed that the venue would be Valencia, Spain. An appeal by SNG regarding the venue was rejected and Alinghi 5 was shipped at the end of December 2009 from Ras al Khaimah to Valencia, where she arrived on 5 January 2010. Designed by Rolf Vrolijk and an Alinghi design team headed by Grant Simmer, Alinghi 5 was built in Villeneuve, Switzerland, by Alinghi-Décision and required more than 100,000 hours of work.
The mast is 62 metres tall. An engine installed at the back of the boat provides power for the winches; when sailing upwind, the boat can sail at less than 20 degrees off the apparent wind. During a training run, Alinghi 5 covered 20 nautical miles to windward and back in 2.5 hours in 8–9-knot winds, so her average velocity made good was 16 knots, about 1.9 times the wind speed. Alinghi 5 sails so fast downwind that the apparent wind she generates is only 5–6 degrees different from when she is racing upwind. An explanation of this phenomenon can be found in the article on sailing faster than the wind; the design of the yacht was influenced by that of racing catamarans developed for regattas on Lake Geneva. The first race of the 2010 America's Cup took place on 12 February 2010. Alinghi 5 lost the race to the challenger, USA 17. Alinghi 5 was ahead by 1:27 at the start, but was behind by 3:21 at the windward mark and by about 10 minutes at the finish, her official finish time was 15:28 behind the winner because Alinghi 5 had to perform a penalty turn, having failed to stay clear at the start.
Winds were 5–10 knots. Alinghi 5 reached the windward mark in 1h32, so her velocity made good was about 13 knots, or about 1.7 times wind speed. Alinghi 5 took 691⁄2 minutes to reach the downwind mark, so her velocity made good downwind was about 17 knots, or about 2.3 times wind speed. On 14 February 2010, Alinghi 5 lost the second race, thus the America's Cup, again by a considerable margin though she appeared to sail better upwind than on the first day, thanks to a fuller mainsail combined with a smaller jib. Alinghi 5 was behind by 0:24 at the start, by 0:28 at the windward mark, by 2:44 at the gybe mark, by over 2 minutes at the finish, her official finish time was 5:26 behind the winner because Alinghi 5 had to perform a penalty turn, having entered the pre-start area too soon. Winds were 7 to 8 knots. Alinghi 5 reached the windward mark in 59 minutes, so her velocity made good was about 13.2 knots, or about 1.8 times wind speed. The course was a triangle, so the velocity made good downwind was only 11.1 knots, or about 1.5 times wind speed.
Alinghi 5 averaged 25.2 knots, or about 3.4 times the wind speed, on the faster first triangular leg. Most observers stated, she could be seen on Google Maps while trialing on Lake Geneva, but disappeared with the imagery update of 2011. Using the Measurement tool in Google Maps renders her 110 feet LOA and 75 feet beam. Www.americascup.com
Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; 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, King of Scots, became King of England and King of 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 created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce