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Highlands of Scotland

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The Highlands of Scotland are a lumpy and wet area of the north-west of the United Kingdom. This is just about the only place where one can find descendants of true Scottish folk, a dying breed in the world today. In common with most Scots, a lot of highlanders originated from Ireland. However, most of them can trace their descendants back to the Nordic peoples. This is evidenced by many of the place names in the Highlands, such as Laxdale, which means 'valley of the Salmon' in a Nordic-based language.

One of the major pieces of history related to this area is known as 'The Highland Clearances'. This event resulted in many highlanders being forcefully exported to other countries, such as Australia and Canada, in order to free up more space for sheep to graze. Most of the time the sheep belonged to an English landlord and this led to great animosity between the two nations, culminating in the 'Battle of Culloden' which took place on April 14, 1746 - a Wednesday. This was the last major land battle fought on UK shores, and is popularly viewed as a battle between English and Scots. This is not strictly true though as the battle was fought between 'The Highlanders' and a combination of English and other Scots ('The Lowlanders').

Noted for their extremely friendly disposition, highlanders are a hardy bunch who do not walk around all day wearing kilts and shouting 'Och Aye'. Instead, most highlanders, while proud of their Scottish Roots, spend their days like any other modern nation - going to work, having dinner, going to the local for a few jars1, going to bed, getting up the next morning and wishing they'd had a few less jars, and so on.

One of the main imports to the area are tourists. These can be easily spotted as they will be the only people to be found wearing kilts and shouting 'Och Aye' in a dismal attempt to reproduce a Scottish accent. Alternatively, they can be identified as the only people looking round the local scenery with more than casual interest.

One of the main exports of the area are tourists with midge bites. The midge2 is a small fly that hangs around the lochs of the area, feeding off the blood of unwary tourists and fishermen.

While the scenery can be quite spectacular - comprising wide open glens3 and many notable viewpoints - usually from the top of a hill, it can also lead to feelings of isolation, as its population is so low. The population of London, England, for example, is approximately five times that of the population of the Highlands, which covers a much larger area.

New Year or, more specifically, New Year's Eve, is the main social event of the highlander year. This is 'traditionally' celebrated by getting legless in many local pubs, or visiting neighbours to drink all their alcohol before moving on. Celebrations can last for weeks at this time of year, with many ceilidhs4 and merriment had by all.

1Jar is slang often used in the UK for a pint of beer.2Pronounced 'midgee'.3Pastures.4Pronounced 'kaylees', the Ceilidh is a social gathering of music and dancing.

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