Scotland and its offshore islands comprise the northernmost part of the United Kingdom.
The Scottish mainland, which occupies roughly the northern third of the island of Great Britain, is bordered on three sides by seas. To the north and west is the Atlantic Ocean; to the east is the North Sea.
Rugged uplands separate Scotland from England to the south. The territory of Scotland includes 186 nearby islands, a majority of which are contained in three groups.
These are the Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, located off the western coast; the Orkney Islands, located off the northeastern coast; and the Shetland Islands, located northeast of the Orkney Islands.
The largest of the other islands is the Island of Arran.
The total land area of Scotland, including the islands, is 78,790 sq km (30,420 sq mi).
An independent nation for much of its history, Scotland was joined to England by a series of dynastic and political unions in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Scotland retains a separate national identity, however, supported by separate legal and educational systems, a national church, a parliament with wide-ranging powers, and other national symbols and institutions.