Scottish diaspora

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Scottish diaspora
Total population
c. 28–40 million worldwideA[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Scotland   4,446,000 (2011)
(Scottish descent only)[2]
 United StatesB 6,006,955 & 5,393,554[3][4]
 CanadaC 4,719,850[5]
 Australia 1,792,600[6]
 EnglandD 795,000
 Argentina 100,000
 Chile 80,000
 France 45,000
 Poland 15,000
 New ZealandF 12,792[7]
 Isle of Man 2,403[8]
 Hong KongG 1,459[9][10][11]
Scottish English • Scottish Gaelic • Scots
Presbyterianism • Roman Catholicism • Episcopalianism • deists • atheists.

A These figures are estimates based on official
 census data of populations and official surveys of
B Scottish Americans and Scotch-Irish Americans.
C Scottish Canadians.
D Scottish born people in England only
E Ulster-Scots
F missing
G Number of people born in Scotland.

The Scottish diaspora consists of Scottish people who emigrated from Scotland and their descendants. The diaspora is concentrated in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and to a lesser extent Argentina, Chile and Brazil.



A Scottish Argentine population has existed at least since 1825.[16] There are an estimated 100,000 Argentines of Scottish ancestry, the most of any country outside the English-speaking world.[17] Scottish Argentines have been incorrectly referred to as English.[18]



James Naismith, the inventor of the sport of basketball

Scottish people have a long history in Canada, dating back several centuries. Many towns, rivers and mountains have been named in honour of Scottish explorers and traders such as Mackenzie Bay and Calgary is named after a Scottish beach. Most notably, the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. Once Scots formed the vanguard of the movement of Europeans across the continent; in more modern times, emigrants from Scotland have played a leading role in the social, political and economic history of Canada, being prominent in banking, labour unions, and politics.[19]

The first documented Scottish settlement in the Americas was of Nova Scotia (New Scotland) in 1629, on 29 September 1621, the charter for the foundation of a colony was granted by James VI of Scotland to Sir William Alexander.[20] Between 1622 and 1628, Sir William launched four attempts to send colonists to Nova Scotia; all failed for various reasons. A successful occupation of Nova Scotia was finally achieved in 1629, the colony's charter, in law, made Nova Scotia (defined as all land between Newfoundland and New England) a part of mainland Scotland; this was later used to get around the English navigation acts. The Scots have influenced the cultural mix of Nova Scotia for centuries and constitute the largest ethnic group in the province, at 29.3% of its population. Many Scottish immigrants were monoglot Scottish Gaelic speakers from the Gàidhealtachd (Scottish Highlands). Canadian Gaelic was spoken as the first language in much of "Anglophone" Canada, such as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Glengarry County in Ontario. Gaelic was the third most commonly spoken language in Canada.[21]

As the third-largest ethnic group in Canada and amongst the first Europeans to settle in the country, Scottish people have made a large impact on Canadian culture since colonial times. According to the 2011 Census of Canada, the number of Canadians claiming full or partial Scottish descent is 4,714,970,[22] or 15.10% of the nation's total population.


A large proportion of Scottish Chileans are sheep farmers in the Magallanes region of the far south of the country, and the city of Punta Arenas has a large Scottish foundation dating back to the 18th century. A famous Scot, Thomas, Lord Cochrane (later 10th Earl of Dundonald) formed the Chilean Navy to help liberate Chile from Spain in the independence period. Chile developed a strong diplomatic relationship with Great Britain and invited more British settlers to the country in the 19th century.

The Chilean government land deals invited settlement from Scotland and Wales in its southern provinces in the 1840s and 1850s, the number of Scottish Chileans is still higher in Patagonia and Magallanes regions. The Mackay School, in Viña del Mar is an example of a school set up by Scottish Chileans. The Scottish and other British Chileans are primarily found in higher education as well in economic management and the country's cultural life.

United States[edit]

Scottish ancestry in the United States, 1700–2013
Year Ethnic group Population  % of pop. R
1700 est Scottish 7,526 3.0% [23][24]
1755 est Scottish & Scots-Irish 4.0% & 7.0% (11.0%) [23]
1775 est Scottish & Scots-Irish 6.6% & 7.8% (14.4%) [25]
1790 est Scottish & Scots-Irish 6.6% & 4.8% (11.4%) [26][27]
1980 Scottish & Scots-Irish 10,048,816 & 16,418 4.44% & 0.007% (4.447%) [28]
1990 Scottish & Scots-Irish 5,393,581 & 5,617,773 2.2% & 2.3% (4.5%) [29]
2000 Scottish & Scots-Irish 4,890,581 & 4,319,232 1.7% & 1.5% (3.2%) [30]
2010 (ACS) Scottish & Scots-Irish 5,460,679 & 3,257,161 1.9% & 3.1% [31]
2013 (ACS) Scottish & Scots-Irish 5,310,285 & 2,976,878 ?% [32]

In the 2013 American Community Survey 5,310,285 identified as Scottish & 2,976,878 Scots-Irish descent.[33] Large scale emigration from Scotland to America began in the 1700s after the Battle of Culloden where the Clan structures were broken up. Anti-Catholic persecution[34][35] and the Highland Clearances also obliged many Scottish Gaels to emigrate. The Scots went in search of a better life and settled in the thirteen colonies, mainly around South Carolina and Virginia.

The number of Americans of Scottish descent today is estimated to be 20 to 25 million[36][37][38][39] (up to 8.3% of the total US population), and Scotch-Irish, 27 to 30 million[40][41] (up to 10% of the total US population), the subgroups overlapping and not always distinguishable because of their shared ancestral surnames.

The majority of Scotch-Irish originally came from Lowland Scotland and the Scottish Borders before migrating to the province of Ulster in Ireland (see Plantation of Ulster) and thence, beginning about five generations later, to North America in large numbers during the eighteenth century.

The table shows the ethnic Scottish population in the United States from 1700 to 2013; in 1700 the total population of the American colonies was 250,888 of which 223,071 (89%) were white and 3.0% were ethnically Scottish.[23][24] In the 2000 census, 4.8 million Americans self-reported Scottish ancestry, 1.7% of the total US population. Another 4.3 million self-reported Scotch-Irish ancestry, for a total of 9.2 million Americans self-reporting some kind of Scottish descent.

MHPB New York.jpg
Highland Pipe Band at the Tartan Day Parade, New York City
David Dunbar Buick.jpg

Self-reported numbers are regarded by demographers as massive under-counts, because Scottish ancestry is known to be disproportionately under-reported among the majority of mixed ancestry,[42] and because areas where people reported "American" ancestry were the places where, historically, Scottish and Scotch-Irish Protestants settled in America (that is: along the North American coast, Appalachia, and the Southeastern United States).

Scottish Americans descended from nineteenth-century Scottish immigrants tend to be concentrated in the West, while others in New England are the descendants of immigrants from the Maritime Provinces of Canada, especially in the 1920s.

Americans of Scottish descent outnumber the population of Scotland, where 4,459,071 or 88.09% of people identified as ethnic Scottish in the 2001 Census.[43][44] There are many clan societies and other heritage organizations, such as An Comunn Gàidhealach America and Slighe nan Gàidheal.



Scottish ancestry in Australia, 1986–2011 (Census)
Year Population Percent of pop. Ref
1986 740,522 4.7% [45]
2001 540,046 2.9% [45]
2006 1,501,200 7.6% [46][47]
2011 1,792,622 8.3% [47][48]

A steady rate of Scottish immigration continued into the 20th century, with substantial numbers of Scots continued to arrive after 1945,[49] from 1900 until the 1950s, Scots favoured New South Wales, as well as Western Australia and Southern Australia.[citation needed] A strong cultural Scottish presence is evident in the Highland games, dance, Tartan day celebrations, Clan and Gaelic speaking societies found throughout modern Australia.

According to the 2011 Australian census 130,204 Australian residents were born in Scotland,[50] while 1,792,600 claimed Scottish ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry.[6] This is the fourth most commonly nominated ancestry and represents over 8.9% of the total population of Australia.

New Zealand[edit]

The settlement of English in the North Island and northern South Island and Scottish in the Deep South is reflected in the dominance of Anglicanism and Presbyterianism in the respective regions.

Scottish migration to New Zealand dates back to the earliest period of European colonisation, with a large proportion of Pākehā New Zealanders being of Scottish descent.[51] However, identification as "British" or "European" New Zealanders can sometimes obscure their origin. Many Scottish New Zealanders also have Māori or other non-European ancestry.

The majority of Scottish immigrants settled in the South Island. All over New Zealand, the Scots developed different means to bridge the old homeland and the new. Many Caledonian societies were formed, well over 100 by the early twentieth century, who helped maintain Scottish culture and traditions, from the 1860s, these societies organised annual Caledonian Games throughout New Zealand. The Games were sports meets that brought together Scottish settlers and the wider New Zealand public; in so doing, the Games gave Scots a path to cultural integration as Scottish New Zealanders.[52]

The Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland founded Dunedin at the head of Otago Harbour in 1848 as the principal town of its Scottish settlement. The name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.[53] Charles Kettle the city's surveyor, instructed to emulate the characteristics of Edinburgh, produced a striking, 'Romantic' design.[54] The result was both grand and quirky streets as the builders struggled and sometimes failed to construct his bold vision across the challenging landscape. Captain William Cargill, a veteran of the war against Napoleon, was the secular leader, the Reverend Thomas Burns, a nephew of the poet Robert Burns, was the spiritual guide.


Northern Ireland[edit]

The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots: Ulstèr-Scotch), commonly known as Scots-Irish outside of Ireland, are an ethnic group in Ireland, found mostly in the Ulster region and to a lesser extent in the rest of Ireland. Their ancestors were mostly Protestant Lowland Scottish migrants, the largest numbers coming from the Border Reivers culture of the Scottish Borders, from Galloway and Ayrshire, although some came from further north in the Scottish Lowlands and also to a lesser extent from the Highlands.

These Scots migrated to Ireland in large numbers both as a result of the government-sanctioned Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonisation which took place under the auspices of James VI of Scotland and I of England on land confiscated from members of the Gaelic nobility of Ireland who fled Ulster and as part of a larger migration or unplanned wave of settlement.

Ulster Scots emigrated onwards from Ireland in significant numbers to what is now the United States and to all corners of the then-worldwide British Empire—what are now Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, to British India, and to a lesser extent to Argentina and Chile. Scotch-Irish (or Scots-Irish) is a traditional term for Ulster Scots who emigrated to North America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Scottish Diaspora and Diaspora Strategy: Insights and Lessons from Ireland". Scottish Government. May 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Table 2: Ethnic Groups, Scotland, 2001 and 2011
  3. ^ [1] American Community Survey 2008 by the US Census Bureau estimates 5,827,046 people claiming Scottish ancestry and 3,538,444 people claiming Scotch-Irish ancestry.
  4. ^ Who are the Scots-Irish?
  5. ^ The 2006 Canadian Census gives a total of 4,719,850 respondents stating their ethnic origin as Scottish. Many respondents may have misunderstood the question and the numerous responses for "Canadian" does not give an accurate figure for numerous groups, particularly those of British Isles origins.
  6. ^ a b "ABS Ancestry". 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Friends Of Scotland
  13. ^ The Ancestral Scotland website states the following: "Scotland is a land of 5.1 million people. A proud people, passionate about their country and her rich, noble heritage, for every single Scot in their native land, there are thought to be at least five more overseas who can claim Scottish ancestry; that's many millions spread throughout the globe."
  14. ^ History, Tradition and roots, ancestry
  15. ^ Visit
  16. ^ Clan Macrae news
  17. ^ Gilchrist, Jim (14 December 2008). "Stories of Homecoming - We're on the march with Argentina's Scots". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  18. ^ "Alejandro Watson Hutton... Este inglés, graduado en humanidades en la Universidad de Edimburgo"
  19. ^ Simon Fraser University
  20. ^ Fry, Michael (2001). The Scottish Empire. Tuckwell Press. p. 21. ISBN 1-84158-259-X. 
  21. ^ Jonathan Dembling. “Gaelic in Canada: new evidence from an old census.” In Cànan & Cultar/Language & Culture: Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 3, edited by Wilson McLeod, James Fraser and Anja Gunderloch, 203-14. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2006.
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People By Paul Boyer
  24. ^ a b Colonial America To 1763 By Thomas L. Purvis].
  25. ^ Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System By J. Harr, Kären Hess, Christine Hess Orthmann, Jonathan Kingsbury
  26. ^ Diversity in America By Vincent N. Parrillo
  27. ^ The dynamics of American ethnic, religious, and racial group life. By Philip Perlmutter
  28. ^ "Rank of States for Selected Ancestry Groups with 100,00 or more persons: 1980" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  29. ^ "1990 Census of Population Detailed Ancestry Groups for States" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 18 September 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  30. ^ "Ancestry: 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  31. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  32. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  33. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  34. ^ MacKay, Donald (1996). Scotland farewell: The people of the Hector (3, illustrated ed.). Dundurn Press Ltd. ISBN 1-896219-12-8. p. vii.
  35. ^ Campey, Lucille H (2007). After the Hector: The Scottish Pioneers of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton 1773–1852 (2nd ed.). Toronto: National Heritage Books. ISBN 978-1-55002-770-9. pp. 60–61.
  36. ^ James McCarthy and Euan Hague, 'Race, Nation, and Nature: The Cultural Politics of "Celtic" Identification in the American West', Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 94 Issue 2 (5 Nov 2004), p. 392, citing J. Hewitson, Tam Blake and Co.: The Story of the Scots in America (Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 1993).
  37. ^ Tartan Day 2007, scotlandnow, Issue 7 (March 2007). Accessed 7 September 2008.
  38. ^ "Scottish Parliament: Official Report, 11 September 2002, Col. 13525". Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  39. ^ "Scottish Parliament: European and External Relations Committee Agenda, 20th Meeting 2004 (Session 2), 30 November 2004, EU/S2/04/20/1" (PDF). 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  40. ^ James Webb, Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America (New York: Broadway Books, 2004), front flap: 'More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England's Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland.' ISBN 0-7679-1688-3
  41. ^ James Webb, Secret GOP Weapon: The Scots Irish Vote, Wall Street Journal (23 October 2004). Accessed 7 September 2008.
  42. ^ Mary C. Walters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 31-6.
  43. ^ "QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  44. ^ "Table 1.1: Scottish population by ethnic group - All People". 2006-04-04. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  45. ^ a b The Transformation of Australia's Population: 1970-2030 edited by Siew-An Khoo, Peter F. McDonald, Siew-Ean Khoo.(Page 164).
  46. ^ The People of Australia - Statistics from the 2006 Census(Page 50)
  47. ^ a b The people of Australia.The People of Australia - Statistics from the 2011 Census (Page:55)
  48. ^ 2011 Census data shows more than 300 ancestries reported in Australia.
  49. ^ The Scots in Australia (2008) M. Prentis UNSW Press.
  50. ^ "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex — Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ Tanja Bueltmann, "'No Colonists are more Imbued with their National Sympathies than Scotchmen,'" New Zealand Journal of History (2009) 43#2 pp 169–181 online
  53. ^ McLintock, A H (1949), The History of Otago; the origins and growth of a Wakefield class settlement, Dunedin, NZ: Otago Centennial Historical Publications, OCLC 154645934
  54. ^ Hocken, Thomas Moreland (1898), Contributions to the Early History of New Zealand (Settlement of Otago), London, UK: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, OCLC 3804372