Historically, Scotland has often been culturally divided by the Celtic culture of the "Highlands and Islands" and the more Anglo-influenced culture of the "Lowlands," which borders England. Until somewhat recently (historically-speaking) the Highlanders and the islands primarily spoke in Scottish Gaelic, and it is still in use in some areas of Scotland. The Lowlanders on the other hand mainly spoke Scots, a language that evolved from Old English.
In modern times, while the vast majority of Scots today primarily converse in English, the country does have three official languages: English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic. Scotland is also considered one of the six modern Celtic nations (along with Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man). It is interesting to note that 8th-century Norse (Viking) invaders also left their mark on Scottish culture, particularly on the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands. In both island chains, many residents still celebrate their Scandinavian cultural traditions, which is no surprise as some – like those on the Shetlands Islands – are actually closer in distance to Norway than to Edinburgh.
Scotland has given the world some of its best thinkers, philosophers, writers, musicians, artists and actors. Its universities are some of the oldest in the world, like the University of Edinburgh, which was founded in 1583. The Scots gave us Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Wealth of Nations, Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter – just to name a few. Scottish artists like the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists made important contributions to 19th and 20th century art. Literary giants that hail from Scotland include Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, J.K. Rowling, George MacDonald, Sir James M. Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Scotland has also produced world-renown actors like Sean Connery, Deborah Kerr, Ewan McGregor, Billy Connolly, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, Ian McDiarmid, Gerard Butler, Alan Cumming and Kevin McKidd – and musical acts like Franz Ferdinand, Shirley Manson, Annie Lennox and Susan Boyle. Despite the existence of many genres of music in present-day Scotland, the country's rich tradition of folk music is still going strong. Scottish folk music, which features the use of instruments like the bagpipes, harp, tin whistle, guitar, fiddle and accordion, has been spread throughout the world by Scotland's emigrating population.
If you are interested in hearing unforgettable music while on vacation in Scotland, consider attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, which takes place annually during the month of August. It is one of many incredible festivals that Edinburgh hosts throughout the year. Others to check out include the Jazz & Blues Festival, the Edinburgh Art Festival, the International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scotland's beautiful capital city is also home to many impressive museums, castles and art galleries.
Interesting cultural attractions: the National Gallery of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, Culzean Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse