Welcome to Scotland – a guide for Service personnel and their families in Scotland (updated 2022)

Provides practical information to service personnel and their families on topics such as housing, education, healthcare and employment.

Welcome to Scotland

Scotland is a progressive nation built on dynamism, creativity and the fabulous warmth of its people. We have a population of around 5.4 million mostly concentrated in the central belt. Our major cities include Edinburgh, the capital, with its iconic hill-top castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene.


Scotland’s official languages are English, Gaelic, and Scots. Around 60,000 people speak Gaelic and more than a million people speak Scots. There are six standalone Gaelic schools including in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Gaelic is taught in over 50 other schools across Scotland. More information on Gaelic and Scots culture can be found at


The Scottish Parliament deals with devolved issues. Devolution is a system of government which allows decisions to be made at a more local level. In the UK there are several examples of devolved government including the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Scottish Parliament, informally referred to as “Holyrood”, is a democratically elected body comprising 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). Members are elected for five-year terms under the mixed member proportional representation system.

The Scottish Government is led by the First Minister and is responsible for implementing laws and policy in Scotland which are not explicitly reserved to the United Kingdom Government (such as defence and foreign policy). These devolved matters include health and social care, education, justice and policing, rural affairs, economic development and transport.

Local government is organised through 32 unitary authorities designated as councils which consist of councillors elected every five years by registered voters in each of the council areas. You can find the contact details for your local authority at



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