Understanding the differences of the various countries that make up the United Kingdom can be difficult.
Not all countries technically belong to the United Kingdom.
Two countries that seem alike but are vastly different are Ireland and Scotland.
Irish Vs. Scottish (What’s The Difference?)
They both have ties to the Celtic people that settled in the regions known as Scotland and Ireland today.
They also share a history of belonging to the United Kingdom and even in attempts to claim their own independence.
The list of similarities ends there.
Ireland and Scotland are vastly different.
Here are 7 differences to know.
The major difference in geography between Ireland and Scotland is the fact that Ireland is an island.
Scotland is only a small part of a larger landmass known as Great Britain.
Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.
That’s because it has sweeping green pastures and fields.
The overall size of Ireland is 70,273 square kilometers.
It’s broken up into two distinct regions.
Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom.
The rest of the island belongs to the Republic of Ireland.
It’s independent of the United Kingdom.
Scotland, on the other hand, is not an island.
Although the ocean borders it, Scotland sits to the north of Great Britain.
It also has three distinctive regions instead of two.
There are the lowlands that feature rich valleys, fields, and forests.
They’re primarily where farms reside.
The next region is the highlands.
This is the mountainous region of Scotland.
It’s also where the legendary Loch Ness Monster resides.
The final region involves the small islands around Scotland.
There are several of these islands.
Some of them are large while others are too small to inhabit.
Even the larger islands can be difficult to reach.
Not all of these islands have inhabitants.
Some are rocky while others feature white beaches.
In terms of geography, Scotland has more variety than Ireland.
They have fields and grasslands, but they also have towering mountains.
The size of Scotland is also different from Ireland, although not by much.
Its landmass stretches to 77,910 square kilometers.
There are distinct differences between Ireland and Scotland in terms of their politics.
Ireland needs two-fold examining because of its political split.
Northern Ireland falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.
They follow Great Britain’s laws and are subject to them.
While they do have their own representatives, they are beholden to the laws made in Great Britain.
That’s different from the rest of Ireland.
Those who live in the Republic of Ireland are independent of the United Kingdom.
Their political system is a democratic government with a parliamentary system.
They’re able to hold their own elections, enact laws, and enforce their laws according to their own constitution.
That does add a bit of friction within the country of Ireland as a whole.
Scotland has a unique political system as well.
It has tried several times in the past to claim its independence from the United Kingdom, but it hasn’t been successful yet.
However, Great Britain has allowed Scotland to write up and enforce its own domestic laws for its country.
Scotland has its own government.
They formed it in 1999 and based it on Great Britain’s parliamentary government system.
While they’re able to dictate their own national laws, when it comes to international and foreign law, they are subject to the laws of Great Britain.
Scotland has to conform to Great Britain’s laws concerning matters like national defense, the global economy, and monetary policy.
Scotland’s government handles matters pertaining to health, tourism, education, and transformation.
In this way, Scotland is not as independent politically as the Republic of Ireland.
However, it is more independent than Northern Ireland.
Both Scotland and Ireland share a history of the Celts.
The Celts sailed to Ireland and found it.
They settled there for many years.
It’s believed that they found Ireland as early as 700 BC.
They were also an intelligent group of people that heralded the Iron Age and all its technologies.
They wouldn’t remain alone in Ireland for long.
In the 1170s, the Vikings sailed to Ireland on behalf of England.
They encountered the Celts there and started to invade the country.
As the Vikings won ground, England took ownership of it.
Eventually, all of Ireland would belong to England.
Over the years, and particularly in modern years, Ireland would continue to fight for its independence.
One of the major historical events that prompted independence was the Great Potato Famine.
Britain had been exploiting Ireland’s resources and left little for the farmers of Ireland.
When a blight came and withered away potatoes, which many farmers relied on for survival, they starved.
The early 20th century saw a rise in rebellion in Ireland against England.
In 1922, Ireland successfully seceded from the United Kingdom.
Part of the treaty between the two nations was to allow the six northeastern counties to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Those six counties are now known as Northern Ireland.
Scotland shares a similar history, but one that took a different path.
The Picts were among the first people in Scotland.
They share a history of battling Romans that were intent on adding Britain to their empire.
Although some parts of Scotland fell to the Romans, they were unable to ever take hold of Scotland as a whole.
Anglo-Saxons also spread through Scotland.
They founded a region called Northumbria.
They were heavily influenced by the Romans and practiced Christianity.
The final region contained Gaelic-speaking Irish settlers.
They became known as the Celts.
The three regions often fought one another, particularly the Picts and the Celts.
When the Vikings started to invade Scotland, however, the regions allied together against them.
The Vikings were particularly successful in the northern part of Scotland.
Norse replaced Gaelic on the islands concentrated in that area.
Thanks to the presence of the Vikings, Scotland became ruled by a single person.
It was a Gaelic-speaking individual who further spread the language and customs through the rest of the country.
As a result, the Pict culture died off.
As English settlers started to settle more land in Scotland, England started to spread its influence throughout the region.
It even attempted to secure Scotland through various treaties, but Scotland refused to join forces.
At this point, Edward I of England launched an attack on Scotland to remove the ruling King John and claim Scotland for England once and for all.
It was during this war that the famous William Wallace made his entry into history.
The war was successful, and Scotland would continue as an independent country until 1707.
By that time, famine and poor noble houses looking for a way to increase their wealth decided to side with England.
They signed the 1707 Act of the Union—despite riots in Edinburgh—and became a subject of Great Britain.
Since then, Scotland has attempted to reclaim its independence.
Part of that was acquiring their own government in the 1990s to dictate laws regarding their own national interests.
Clearly, the two countries have a few major differences in terms of their history.
While both have a shared history with the Celts and opposition against England, Ireland was successful in seceding from England where Scotland was not.
The economy between Ireland and Scotland is also different.
The Great Famine was one of Ireland’s biggest blows when it comes to its economy.
Some parts of the country feel the symptoms of poverty to this day.
British rule didn’t help stimulate their economy either.
Once they gained their independence, the Republic of Ireland was quick to join the European Union.
Doing so allowed them to open their doors to new trade opportunities.
Because of their trade partners, they’ve been able to overcome their economic stagnation and establish themselves as a knowledge economy.
Part of their knowledge economy is offering financial services and technology that generates their value.
They use the euro as their currency.
Scotland didn’t have The Great Famine to stagnate its economy, but it did have its own share of smaller famines and problems.
Scotland’s economy is more diverse than Ireland’s.
They have farmers and engineering.
They also have a stake in providing financial services.
One of the newest markets that Scotland has been trying to invest in is tourism.
With beautiful hiking trails, a rich history, and plenty of delicious food to share, Scotland seeks to attract tourists from all over the world.
Through the connections of the United Kingdom, Scotland has been able to benefit from globalization.
Their currency is the same as the United Kingdom’s currency: the pound Sterling.
The problem with Scotland’s economy is the threat of Brexit.
Since they’re tied to Great Britain, they’re also forced to dissolve trade partnerships with the European Union as they stand currently.
Part of the drive behind Scottish independence in recent years has been in response to Brexit.
Many Scottish people want to be part of the European Union and believe that establishing their independence is the only way they’ll be able to return to it.
Time will tell how Brexit will impact the economy of both Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The language is also different between the two countries.
In Ireland, the primary language is English.
Gaelic, which the Irish call Erse, is also prevalent.
The Gaelic language comes from the Celts.
It’s estimated that 1.76 million people in Ireland still speak Gaelic.
This number is most prevalent in the region of Ireland known as Gaeltacht.
Scotland also has two main languages.
While the Scottish people speak English, they also use a Scottish variant of it.
The variant switches out some English words with Scottish words.
The Scottish people call this language Scottish.
Gaelic is also spoken in the country.
The northern parts of the country are where most of the people speak it.
Clearly, English and Gaelic are two languages that the countries share.
However, the prevalence of it and the slight variations between the languages showcase another difference between the two countries.
One might think that two countries with a shared history with England might follow the same religions.
The Republic of Ireland has a written clause in its constitution that they will never choose an official religion for their people.
The people are free to follow whatever religion that calls to them.
That said, the majority of people in Ireland practice Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Catholic Church is deeply rooted in Irish history.
It became a point of contention between Ireland and England.
When wars between Catholics and Protestants began, Ireland was often part of it.
Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the island, has a majority of Protestants.
In the Republic of Ireland, other religions are also gaining popularity.
Islam, the Church of Ireland, and other similar denominations are starting to take hold.
Religion is slightly different in Scotland.
The majority of people in Scotland don’t practice a religion.
Those who do practice a religion identify as being part of the Church of Scotland.
A smaller number identifies as being Roman Catholic.
Christianity is one of the oldest religions in Scotland, and it has several different dominations and churches present in the country.
7. Customs And Cultures
Ireland and Scotland share some of the same customs, but they each have their own version of it.
Ireland, in particular, has a custom for storytelling.
The people are great storytellers.
Many successful authors that have gone on to win Nobel Prizes are Irish.
Music and sports are other key features of Ireland culture.
Everyone knows Irish tavern music.
They’re also passionate about sports and their local teams.
They also use bagpipes, but their version of bagpipes is smaller than the Scottish version.
Regarding their food, Ireland produces hearty stews and delicious bread.
Everyone knows Ireland for their drinks, particularly Guinness.
Scotland also has a rich culture.
One of the cultural aspects of Scotland is its innovation.
The Scottish people have a history of being one of the most innovative peoples in the world.
World-changing inventions like MRI scanners, TVs, and penicillin all came from the Scottish.
They often bring new ideas and perspectives to the global stage.
Besides being innovative, their culture is also entrenched in food, music, and sports.
Everyone knows Scotland for its kilts and bagpipes.
Their kilts are different from Irish kilts.
Scottish kilts include a crest that contains the clan’s heraldry.
Irish crests will sometimes have a shamrock on it, but they don’t depict individual clans.
The Scottish will also wear Prince Charlie jackets with their kilts on formal occasions while the Irish will wear a Brian Boru jacket.
Some of their popular foods include Angus beef, haggis, and porridge.
They’re also known for Scotch Whisky.
Rugby and football are also important sports in Scottish culture.
Like Ireland, Scotland has a lot of national pride that reinforces its culture.
The Scottish people are proud of their heritage and enjoy sharing it with others who visit them.
The Irish and Scottish share a history with England and the Celts.
Both fought hard to achieve and maintain their independence.
Parts of Ireland were successful while Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom.
They both speak English, but they also both speak regional dialects of Gaelic.
Ireland has vast green fields while Scotland has fields, mountains, and several islands.
Clearly, there are several differences between Ireland and Scotland.
However, they are more alike than they are different.