The Lowlands (Scots: the Lallans or the Lawlands; Scottish Gaelic: a'
Ghalldachd, "the place of the foreigner") are a cultural and historic
region of Scotland.
The Lowlands is not an official geographical or administrative area of
the country. There are two main topographic regions: the Midland
Valley (or Central Lowlands) and the Southern Uplands. The term
"Lowlands" mainly refers to the Midland Valley. However, in normal
usage it refers to those parts of
Scotland not in the Highlands (or
Gàidhealtachd). The boundary is usually considered to be a line
Helensburgh (on the Firth of Clyde). The
Lowlands lie south and east of the line. Note that some parts of the
Lowlands (such as the Southern Uplands) are not physically "low,"
Merrick for example reaching 2,766 feet, while some areas indisputably
in the Highlands (such as Islay) are low-lying.
In geological terms, the dividing line between Lowlands and Highlands
is the Highland Boundary Fault. There was also a legally defined
Highland Line in the post-Culloden years, part of the measures taken
to suppress Gaelic culture.
For other purposes, the boundary varies; but if the Boundary Fault is
used, then the traditional Scottish counties entirely in the Lowlands
are: Ayrshire, Berwickshire, Clackmannanshire, Dumfriesshire, East
Lothian, Fife, Kinross-shire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Lanarkshire,
Mid-Lothian, Peeblesshire, Renfrewshire, Roxburghshire,
Selkirkshire, West Lothian and Wigtownshire.
Traditional Scottish counties which straddle the Boundary fault
include Angus, Dunbartonshire, Stirlingshire, Perthshire,
Banffshire and Moray.
Scotland is divided into three distinct areas: the
Highlands, the Central plain (Central Belt), and the Southern Uplands.
The Lowlands cover roughly the latter two. The northeast plain is also
"low-land," both geographically and culturally, but in some contexts
may be grouped together with the Highlands.
The term Lowlands is sometimes used in a more restricted sense to
refer specifically to the Midland Valley. Much of this area, which has
a characteristic structure of sedimentary rocks with coal deposits,
lies within the basins of the Rivers Forth and Clyde. Historically,
this valley has been the most agriculturally productive region of
Scotland. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, coal deposits
promoted concentrated industrial activity and urbanization in the
Midland Valley, where 80 percent of the population of
live. While coal mining and other heavy industry have declined in the
region, it remains at the centre of the Scottish economy, with
electronics and computer manufacture and service sectors such as
telecommunications, computer software, and finance.
The southernmost counties of Scotland, nearest the border with
England, are also known as the Borders. They are sometimes considered
separately from the rest of the Lowlands. Many ancestors of the
Scotch-Irish, as they are known in the United States, or Ulster-Scots,
originated from the lowlands and borders region before migrating to
Ulster Plantation in the 17th century and later the American
frontier, many prior to the American Revolution.
Scottish Lowlands is used with reference to the Scots
language in contrast to the
Scottish Gaelic spoken in the Highlands,
Scottish history and the
Scottish clan system, as well as in family
history and genealogy.
East Lothian was known as Haddingtonshire until 1921.
Mid-Lothian was known as Edinburghshire until 1921.
West Lothian was known as Linlithgowshire until 1921.
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