Scotland is having a big moment right now. First there's the looming question of the nation formally seceding from the United Kingdom. There's also TV's "Outlander" series on Starz, about an English woman who time-travels to 1700s Scotland, based on the popular books by Diana Gabaldon. Now the country is looking forward to the return of the Ryder Cup tournament, which plays the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire from Sept. 23-28.
To celebrate Scotland's moment in the spotlight, here are 10 fun facts you may not know about the beautiful, historic nation:
1. Best place to see the Northern Lights in the U.K. is undeniably Scotland — especially the northern regions, such as the Caithness Coast and the Orkneys.2. Scotland'sSt. Andrews Links is considered the"home of golf" as the sport has been played there since the 15th century.The West Sands atSt. Andrewswere used for the opening scenes of the Oscar-winning 1981 film "Chariots of Fire." Most of the runners in that scene were golf caddies from St. Andrews.3.Loch Nesscontains more water than all of the lakes and rivers in England and Wales, combined. It also has greatest volume of water of any loch in Scotland.4.Europe's oldest-living thing is the yew tree in Fortingall, Perthshire. Various estimates have put its age at between 2,000 and 5,000 years.5.Elvis Presley, ‘The King,' has Aberdeen roots. His ancestor, Andrew Presley, fromLonmay near Fraserburgh, emigrated to North Carolina in 1745. A number of Presleys lived in the Buchan area ofnortheast Aberdeenshire during the 18th & 19th centuries, around Lonmay, Old Deer and Tarves.6.Thefirst official international football matchwas played at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick in 1872.7.Theshortest scheduled flightin the world is one-and-a-half miles long from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The journey takes 1 minute 14 seconds to complete.8.Dallas, the great Texan city that spawned a soap opera of the same name, has its origins in Morayshire. In 1279, William de Ripley obtained the lands and tiny village of Dallas on the River Lossie, south of Forres. On being knighted, he changed his name to Sir William of Dallas. His descendants emigrated to America and in 1844, once of them (George Lifflin Dallas) became vice president of the USA. Dallas, in Texas, was named after him.9.Jenner’s store, inEdinburgh’s Princes Street, was established in 1838. Until taken over by House of Fraser in 2005, it was the oldest independent department store in the world.10. The swimming pool on Scotland's Isle ofIslayis heated by Bowmore Distillery’s surplus heat.