Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, situated in Lothian on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. It is the second most populous city in Scotland and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. The population in 2012 was 482,640.
Edinburgh has been recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, but political power moved south to London after theUnion of the Crowns in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments in 1707. After nearly three centuries of unitary government, a measure of self-government returned in the shape of the devolved Scottish Parliament, which officially opened in Edinburgh in 1999.
The city is also the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and home to many national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery.
Edinburgh’s relatively buoyant economy, traditionally centred on banking and insurance but now encompassing a wide range of businesses, makes it the biggest financial centre in the UK after London. Many Scottish companies have established their head offices in the city.
Edinburgh is rich in associations with the past and has many historic buildings, including Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriars and the Canongate, and an extensive Georgian New Town built in the 18th century.
The city has long been known abroad as a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, the sciences and engineering. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583 and now one of four in the city, was placed 17th in the QS World University Rankings in 2013. The city is also famous for the Edinburgh International Festival, which, since its inception in 1947, has grown – largely as a result of the “Fringe” and other associated events – into the biggest annual international arts festival in the world. In 2004 Edinburgh became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, an accolade awarded in recognition of its literary heritage and lively literary activities in the present. The city’s historical and cultural attractions, together with an annual calendar of events aimed primarily at the tourist market, have made it the second most popular tourist destination in the United Kingdom after London, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year.