Scotland Around the World

We may be small, but we're punching well above our weight on an international level. Scotland and its people have played a major role in helping to develop the world as we know it today.

We've been influential in the development of the USA and Canada as well as Europe and even the Far East. Scots have travelled the world and made their mark wherever they’ve landed, playing key roles in everything from banking to education to government. It really is no wonder that more than 50 million people around the globe claim Scottish ancestry!

Scotland and Europe

From the more than 20,000 students from across Europe who come to study here each year, to the 500 million bottles of whisky we export throughout the EU, Scotland has had a long history of intellectual, cultural, literary, scientific and economic contributions to Europe.

In the 2016 referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, 62% of voters in Scotland voted for the UK to remain. However, 52% of voters across the UK as a whole, voted to leave. The Scottish Government's belief is that remaining in the EU would have been the best option for the UK as a whole, and for Scotland. While accepting the UK Government's decision to leave the EU, Scotland is committed to working and maintaining close relationships with Europe and the EU.

The Scottish Government has published 'Scotland's Place in Europe', which sets out their position following the result of the EU Referendum. Read the full paper here.

Scotland's presence in Europe

The Scottish Government's European Union Office is a key part of its International Division. Established in 1999, it’s situated in the heart of the European Quarter in Brussels and is the eyes and ears of the Scottish Government in Europe. It provides support to Scottish Ministers at engagements with the key European Institutions, namely the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

The efforts of the Scottish Government in Brussels are focused on priority areas where Scotland can achieve real benefits and is complimented by a programme of policy and cultural events to showcase Scotland's areas of expertise, and to invite others to share, celebrate and enjoy our rich cultural heritage and renowned hospitality.

Contact the Brussels, Belgium office.

European Innovation and Investment Hubs

There are currently four Innovation and Investment Hubs across Europe - in Dublin, London, Brussels and Berlin. These hubs support trade, investment, innovation and inter-governmental relations with Europe.

Each hub is different based on its location, but all promote Scotland's research, innovation, social and cultural strengths and explore and pursue collaboration opportunities.

Find out more on our European hubs on

Scotland and the USA

The role of the Scottish Affairs Office in Washington DC is to promote Scotland's interests in this key market and maintain and nurture the strong links which exist between the two nations.

Scots and Scottish influence have played a key role in the United States since its foundation. From the impact of the Scottish Enlightenment through to the contribution by major figures such as Andrew Carnegie in the nation's industrialisation and economic development. Throughout its history, the US has benefitted from its strong links with Scotland. Today more than 5 million Americans claim Scottish ancestry (with nearly 3 million more as Scots-Irish) and the US remains our largest trading partner and source of inward investment.

Read more about Scotland's links with the USA

Scotland and Canada

In Toronto, the Second Secretary for Scottish Affairs works closely with the team in Washington DC to integrate activity and maximise opportunity across key markets in North America.

Scotland has deep rooted relations with Canada. 4.7 million Canadians report Scottish ancestry, and the Scottish influence is woven into the fabric of Canadian society. Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada's first Prime Minister, was born in Scotland and many of Canada's founding fathers had Scottish descent. As a major tourism and export market, with direct air links into Scotland, Canada is a key international partner.

Read about influential Scottish-Canadians who helped shape modern Canada.

Scotland and China

Scotland and China have a long history of friendship and co-operation. From academic, cultural and tourism exchanges to business and trade links, people in both Scotland and China can benefit from a partnership which fosters the exchange of knowledge and resources.

In recent years, Scotland has seen major investments from China in industries such as oil and gas, textiles and engineering, and we have been collaborating on research into fields such as renewable energy and technologies.

In Beijing, the Scottish Affairs team works to promote and represent the Scottish Government's cultural, educational and economic interests in China.

Scotland and India

Scotland has one of the most thriving Indian communities in the world, with everything from food to the arts and religious diversification meaning that Scotland has benefited enormously from links to India. The two countries have a long history of friendship and co-operation and people from India have been coming to Scotland since long before India’s independence in 1947.

From academic, cultural and tourism exchanges to business and trade links, people in both Scotland and India benefit from a partnership enabling the exchange of knowledge, ideas and resources. Each year Edinburgh and Glasgow both hold annual Mela festivals where Indian food and culture is celebrated with vibrancy and colour. In return, Scots in India are well known for welcoming all to their Burns Night celebrations each January.

Scotland and Japan

Japan and Scotland may be on opposite sides of the globe, but the links between them, particularly in the business world, are many and varied. Thomas Blake Glover, born in Fraserburgh in 1838, was affectionately known as the 'Father of Japanese industry'. His work in the 1860s led to far-reaching developments in coal mining, railway and shipbuilding.

Japan also has a thriving whisky industry today which can be traced back to Scotland. Masataka Taketsuru travelled to Scotland in 1918 to study the art of distilling whisky. While here he married a Scotswoman and together they moved back to Japan to play an instrumental role in the creation of the Yamazaki distillery. A few years later he set out on his own to found the Nikka distillery and both are today recognised as world leaders in the whisky business.

Today Links between the two countries continue to flourish, with food, drink and textile exports from Scotland to Japan playing a massive role. Scotland is also Japan’s preferred partner in life sciences, with a growing number of research collaborations and Japanese companies expanding into Scotland.

United Nations

The Scottish Government supports and co-operates with the United Nations (UN) on a broad range of issues to achieve our shared goals and principles – peace, development and human rights - which will benefit people in Scotland and worldwide.

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