1. The unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. In Celtic mythology, the horse with the horn symbolises innocence, purity, healing powers, joy and even life itself. It first made its way on to the Scottish coat of arms after William I used it in the 12th century.
2. The Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides has the world’s only beach airport for scheduled flights. First licensed as a runway in 1936, its flight schedule drawn up to accommodate high tide (which submerges its three runways).
3. The shortest scheduled flight in the world takes off from Westray and lands in Papa Westray in the Orkney island of Scotland. It takes 74 seconds to cover the one-and-a-half mile route.
4. The Scottish city of Edinburgh had the world’s first municipal fire service set up in 1824 by James Braidwood, the ‘Father of Firefighting’. Braidwood later went on to be the first director of what was to become the London Fire Brigade.
5. The modern-day raincoat was created by a Glasgow-born chemist, Charles Macintosh, in 1824. In the UK, it is still called the mackintosh, or mac, after its inventor.
6. The game of golf, as we know it, is said to have emerged out of Scotland. The earliest reference to golf is found in the context of King James II’s diktat banning the game, as it distracted archers from their practice. Most golfers consider the Old Course at St Andrews to be the home of the game.
7. Several Scottish inventions continue to impact our lives even today. Imagine the world without the TV (John Logie Baird, 1925), the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell, 1876) and penicillin (Alexander Fleming, 1928).
8. Though Brazil is, today, regarded as the spiritual home of football, it was Scotland that played host to the first ever official international soccer match, playing against England at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in 1872.