Stretching back many centuries, the shared history and heritage between Scotland and the United States leaves an enduring legacy that is tough to beat.
Millions of Americans share an affinity with Scotland, its people, history and landscape, and today there are hundreds of Scottish associations and clubs in America. In the most recent US Census, more than 5 million Americans claimed Scottish ancestry.
Scotland and USA across key sectors
The USA is both Scotland's top international export destination and our largest inward investor. Annual exports have been worth up to £6bn in recent years, with the engineering and advanced manufacturing, food and drink, financial and business services; technology, digital and media; and the energy sectors all performing strongly.
In total, US companies account for around 25% of the total of foreign inward investment in Scotland. More than 650 US-owned businesses employ around 115,000 people across the country.
We don’t just exchange goods – we also exchange ideas. The US is Scotland’s top global collaborator when it comes to research. Sixteen of our Higher Education institutions share 82 unique links with US counterparts – from staff and student exchanges to thousands of joint publications. Last year, we welcomed more than 6,300 US students to our universities, laying the foundation for lifelong links of friendship with the country – and more than 250 students from the US have been supported by our Saltire Scholarships.
There is a strong cultural affinity between Scotland and the USA. Every year thousands of Americans celebrate this heritage on Tartan Day, and the celebrations culminate in the New York City Tartan Day Parade which is led each year, often by a famous Scot, as the honorary Grand Marshal.
Every year we welcome performers to the Edinburgh Festivals and the World Pipe Band Championships, as well as US military personnel who take part in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Scots also make their own mark in America – with organisations like Scottish Ballet touring the country, and innovative partnerships between the National Theatre of Scotland and NYC’s The Joyce Theater. Even our Baby Box has been on tour, featured as part of the Designing Motherhood exhibition.
Both our culture and our heritage inspire many Americans to visit Scotland – every year we welcome more than 630,000 US visitors. Similarly, more than 350,000 Scots visit the USA every year. Passengers at Scottish airports can take direct flights to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Rhode Island, Boston and Connecticut.
Ancestry and Heritage
Did you know, that of the 46 men who have served as US President, an astonishing 35 have been of either Scottish or Ulster-Scots descent? This includes George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. According to genealogists, even Barack Obama's ancestry can be traced back to William the Lion who ruled Scotland from 1165 to 1214.
Throughout history Scotland has welcomed some impressive American figures. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass visited Edinburgh in 1845, and chose his surname from the hero of the famous Scottish poem, ‘The Lady of the Lake’. Across the water, Scots were also making their mark on American history. Alexander Hamilton’s father, James Hamilton, was a Scotsman from Ayrshire. Alexander Hamilton went on to establish the First Bank of the United States and helped write the American Constitution. Frances Wright, a Scotswoman from Dundee, became an American citizen in 1825 and was among the first recognised female public speakers in the USA.
Today there are hundreds of Scottish associations and clubs in America and more than 5 million Americans claim Scottish ancestry.
If you have Scottish ancestry (or want to find out if you do) visit our ancestry page to discover how you can trace your roots in Scotland.