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Scots Abroad

The Scots, like many small nations, have settled all over the world. It is estimated that around 50 million people around the globe claim Scottish descent but few nations have inspired in their Diaspora such a profound sense of roots and identity as Scotland has.

Perhaps this is related to the very notion of 'the Clan', a concept which dates back to the 12th Century. The Scottish clans were originally extended networks of families who had loyalties to a particular chief, but the word 'clan' is derived from the Gaelic 'clann', meaning literally children. And how far the children of Scotland have travelled.

Go north, south, east or west

In America, where the Scots have been migrating for centuries, there are eight Aberdeens, eight Edinburghs, seven Glasgows, and eight Scotlands, as well as hundreds of St. Andrews Societies and Caledonian clubs, not to mention a huge fondness for activities like golf, curling, country dancing and malt whisky!

Moving further North, into Canada, the Scots influence is, if anything, even more profound. Indeed 'Nova Scotia' means literally 'New Scotland' and it has sometimes been said that Canada is almost an extension of Scotland. John MacDonald, Canada's first prime minister, was a Scot. As was Alexander Mackenzie, the first explorer to cross from the east to west coast of the country, and yet another Scot, Forres-born Alexander Smith, built the great Canadian-Pacific railway.

The Scottish contributions to Canada and America are well known but, moving to the other side of the globe, how many people know of the Scottish side to Singapore? Sir Thomas Raffles is widely recognised as the colonial founder of the country. It is less well known that his co-founder, William Farquhar was a Scot. If you walk around Singapore today you need only look at the place names – St. Andrews Cathedral, MacRitchie Reservoir, MacDonald House, Campbell Lane – to understand the tremendous influence the Scots have had there.

And heading south, let's not forget the many thousands of Scots who emigrated to Australia and New Zealand in the early 19th century and left a lasting impression. Not least in town names such as Dunedin (Gaelic for Edinburgh) in New Zealand, or Dundee in New South Wales, Australia.

How Scottish are you?

Similar Scottish influence can be found in a surprisingly large number of countries from Japan to closer to home in Europe. Scots genes lie behind some of the most famous people in the World from Neil Armstrong to Elvis Presley.

So, how Scottish are you?

Thinking of discovering your Scottish roots?

Last updated 2 Jun 2014