This post is in reaction to the news that recently Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by RoughGuides. Now let me start by saying, I am not about to bash Scotland, so if you’re a proud Scot ready to unleash some fury at this slightly provocative title, then hold back for now…
I’m writing this post because I hope I’m not alone in thinking that this result is surprising. When we think of beautiful countries, we may think of desert island paradises like Fiji or the Maldives, or rugged breathtaking landscapes like New Zealand or Canada perhaps, but Scotland? Scotland is a country literally next door to me here in England, and yes I’ve been a few times, but if it’s the most beautiful country in the world, I should definitely be going there more often…
So I decided to have a little look into why this result happened and play devil’s advocate making 3 arguments for and against. Was it just a fake click bait style article design to get shares and to shock us into being interested? Or is Scotland really a diamond in the rough we all should have much higher on our travel lists?…
Arguments for Scotland being most beautiful country
1 – It is indeed very beautiful
I have been to Scotland a few times before, however most of my experience has been around Edinburgh so I’m not best placed to assess Scotland’s landscapes and beautiful wilderness from personal experience. However, I can say Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, and is a great place to visit full of beauty, history and culture.
So I did a bit of research around some of the articles and supporting arguments for Scotland being as beautiful as this award would imply. It would seem that the reason Scotland was voted number 1 is because of its “wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles” in the Scottish highlands, that are seen as some of the world’s most beautiful spectacles. Just by dipping your toe in the water of looking at images of Scottish landscapes, you realise how beautiful it really is… If you don’t believe me, just Google it, search for some of these articles, or go on a royalty free image site and type in ‘Scotland’, as I have for all of the images on this post. Not to mention, I recently found out that there is even a rare chance to see the Northern Lights in Scotland, which being someone who has looked extensively for cheap ways of doing this, is a massive plus. They were actually visible from Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago, as repported in the article here.
2 – It’s unique in its culture, history and what it has to offer
There’s a certain romance to Scotland, it’s people, history and culture that has attracted people for years. Being English, I am not best placed to describe in detail the romance of Scotland and all it has to offer, and I would undoubtedly patronise and miss out many important points, not to mention anger a lot of Scottish people, so I won’t even try. But Scotland is a proud nation with a completely unique identity, history and culture that is famous worldwide. Ask anybody to name some things Scotland have given to the world, and they will fondly be able to.
3 – Scotland is actually already viewed by many as the most beautiful country but I’m from the UK so take it for granted
In the same vote that awarded Scotland most beautiful country in the world, England was 7th and Wales 10th, so 3 countries from the UK have made the top 10. Having recently spent a lot of money travelling to places in an attempt to get about as far away from the UK as possible, this comes as a bit of a surprise. The first thought that comes to my mind is, ‘really?!’. So therefore, I should maybe have a look at myself… Perhaps others outside of the UK aren’t shocked at this result at all and it’s only us Brits that have been taking Scotland for granted for all these years.
It is very likely that because I’m from the UK, I don’t see the beauty that others do. When you grow up somewhere and around things, you can take what is familiar for granted, and can sometimes not see what’s so great about it. For example, tourists from outside of the UK may see a beautiful and iconic red double-decker bus, as a symbol of Britain that’s highly selfie worthy. Whereas I just see a regular form of public transport that I only use when I can’t get a train. So maybe I’m just so British that I’ve been taking Scotland for granted all of these years.
Arguments against Scotland being most beautiful country
1 – Other countries have more to offer
Yes, in Scotland you have the history, castles, lochs, beautiful mountains, green hills and islands. However, the main argument against Scotland being the most beautiful, is that it may be possible to argue other countries have this stuff too. Other countries all over Europe have castles, there are bigger mountains, deeper and more impressive lakes, greener hills, better beaches, nicer climates and more impressive landscapes. If you just take the USA for example, are you really telling me that Scotland with rugged landscapes, beaches, castles and lakes, can beat the USA which offers Yosemite, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and Alaska?
The fact that in our minds if someone asked you on the spot to say what you think is the most beautiful country in the world, I don’t think Scotland would be up there for most. Our idea of what is beautiful is obviously completely unique to us, but generally doesn’t fit the bill of what Scotland has to offer. This is by no means saying that Scotland isn’t great, but if you’re going to say it is the best, it means you’re comparing it to and saying it beats the most impressive and breathtaking landscapes in the world, anywhere. And that is a hard argument to make.
2 – The weather
Now on most if not all of the articles where I’ve seen the beautiful pictures of Scotland, the weather is perfect, the lakes are calm and pristine, and yes, it’s pretty darn beautiful. However, have you heard the stereotypes about British Weather? Our summers usually consist of one week of actual sunshine and hot weather, with the rest of the time being either unpredictable and grey, or rain. Scotland gets the worst of it, it gets more wind, rain, and lower temperatures because it’s further North.
I went on the ‘visit Scotland’ website, and the description of weather in the summer is ‘June, July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with average maximum temperatures ranging from approximately 15°C to 17°C’. Another website, scotlandinfo.eu gave rain frequency as ‘Measurable rainfall occurs on over 250 days in the Highlands to 175 days per year in other parts.’ So in summary, no Scotland is not just grey and rainy all the time, in fact some parts get rain less than half of the time. However in a lot of Scotland, it will be raining a fair amount.
3 – It’s just click bait
Call me a cynic, and maybe the years have made me doubtful, but in today’s world of companies doing anything for a click and a share, this kind of award is exactly the type that would get a lot of attention. If an obvious place had won such as the runner up Canada, would anyone really care? Because obviously Canada is stunning and beautiful, it’s Canada. But Scotland, who’d have thought it. ‘Did you know the most beautiful country in the world is actually Scotland?’ people will say, and the Scots will proudly be sharing the great news that the world doesn’t just view Scotland as the home of whiskey, Braveheart and the Loch Ness Monster. Not to mention that the RoughGuides article is very thin on detail of how this voting happened: How many readers were asked? Where were they from? How did the voting work? All these issues could have huge impact on the results.
Conclusion – Is Scotland the most beautiful country in the world?
So in conclusion, in the post I have played devil’s advocate, and may have angered some Scots by questioning this result or giving inaccurate Scotland information. If so I apologise. What I’ve realised by writing this post and in looking around a bit to see why Scotland was able to achieve such a great accolade, is this:
If you look at Scotland by its individual parts, it may be blown out of the water by other places and countries, with better weather, beaches, etc. But, when you look at Scotland as a whole and a sum of all of its parts, there is a certain history and romance there, and a mystical beauty it’s hard to pin point. Even just by writing this post my eyes have been opened as to the unique things that Scotland can offer. So is Scotland the most beautiful country in the world? There’s enough to justify that it could be.
The article and award this post is based on is linked here, so if you’ve got any thoughts on the results, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Or even if I’ve made any massive Scotland blunders or you’re just furious I didn’t actually answer the question ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the conclusion…