EdinburghEdinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the second largest city in the country. Located in the south-east of Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast of the Central Belt, along the Firth of Forth, near the North Sea.
With a population of 495,360 in 2011 (up 1.9% from 2010), it is the largest settlement in Lothian and lies at the centre of a larger urban zone of approximately 850,000 people. While the town originally formed on the ridge descending from the castle rock, the modern city is often said to be built on seven hills.
From its prehistoric roots as a hillfort, following periods of Celtic and Germanic influence, Edinburgh became part of the Kingdom of Scotland during the 10th century. With burgh charters granted by David I and Robert the Bruce, Edinburgh grew through the Middle Ages as Scotland’s biggest merchant town. By the time of the European Renaissance and the reign of James IV it was well established as Scotland's capital. The 16th century Scottish Reformation and 18th century Scottish Enlightenment were formative periods in the history of the city, with Edinburgh playing a central role in both. While political power shifted to London following the Treaty of Union in 1707, with devolution in 1997 the city has seen the return of a Scottish parliament.
Edinburgh has a high proportion of independent schools, one college and four universities. The University of Edinburgh (which now includes Edinburgh College of Art) is the biggest university in Scotland and ranked 21st in the world. These institutions help provide a highly educated population and a dynamic economy. Edinburgh has the UK's strongest economy outside London and was named European Best Large City of the Future for Foreign Direct Investment by fDi Magazine in 2012/13.
Each August the city hosts the biggest annual international arts festival in the world. This includes the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Other festivals are held throughout the year, such as the Science Festival, Film Festival and Jazz and Blues Festival. Other annual events include the Hogmanay street party and Beltane. Edinburgh is the world's first UNESCO City of Literature and the city's Old Town and New Town are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world and regularly polls as one of the best places to live, having won more than 12 UK Best City Awards in 8 years to 2013.
Attracting over one million overseas visitors a year, Edinburgh is the second most popular tourist destination in the UK and was voted European Destination of the Year at the World Travel Awards 2012.