Edinburgh facts

City of Edinburgh
City and council area
Clockwise from top-left: View from Calton Hill, Old College, Old Town from Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street from Calton Hill
Clockwise from top-left: View from Calton Hill, Old College, Old Town from Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street from Calton Hill
Flag of City of Edinburgh
Flag
Coat of arms of City of Edinburgh
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "Auld Reekie", "Edina", "Athens of the North"
Location within Scotland
Location within Scotland
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Country  Scotland
Council area City of Edinburgh
Lieutenancy area Edinburgh
Founded Prior to 7th century AD
Burgh Charter 1125
City status 1889
Government
 • Governing body City of Edinburgh Council
 • Lord Provost Donald Wilson
 • MSPs
 • MPs
Area
 • City and council area 264 km2 (102 sq mi)
Elevation 47 m (154 ft)
Population (2014)
 • City and council area 464,990 - Urban Area 492,680 - Local Authority Area
 • Density 1,828/km2 (4,730/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,339,380 - Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region:
 • Language(s) Scots, English
Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcode areas EH1-17, EH28-30
Area code(s) 0131
ISO 3166-2 GB-EDH
ONS code 00QP
OS grid reference NT275735
NUTS 3 UKM25
Primary Airport Edinburgh Airport
GDP US$ 32.5 billion
GDP per capita US$ 58,437
Website www.edinburgh.gov.uk
Old and New Towns of Edinburgh *
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 728
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1995 (19th Session)

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 local government council areas. Located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore, it is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. The 2014 official population estimates are 464,990 for the city of Edinburgh, 492,680 for the local authority area, and 1,339,380 for the city region as of 2014 (Edinburgh lies at the heart of the proposed Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region). Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament and the seat of the monarchy in Scotland. The city is also the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and home to national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. It is the largest financial centre in the UK after London.

Historically part of Midlothian, the city has long been a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, literature, the sciences and engineering. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of four in the city, was placed 17th in the QS World University Rankings in 2013 and 2014. The city is also famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the latter being the world's largest annual international arts festival. The city's historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom's second most popular tourist destination after London, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Historic sites in Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriars and the Canongate, and the extensive Georgian New Town, built in the 18th century. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been managed by Edinburgh World Heritage since 1999.

Etymology

"Edin", the root of the city's name, is most likely of Brittonic Celtic origin, from the Cumbric language or a variation of it that would have been spoken by the earliest known people of the area, an Iron Age tribe known to the Romans as the Votadini, and latterly in sub-Roman history as the Gododdin. It appears to derive from the place name Eidyn mentioned in the Old Welsh epic poem Y Gododdin.

The poem names Din Eidyn as a hill fort (Din meaning "dun") in the territory of the Gododdin. The change in nomenclature, from Din Eidyn to Edinburgh, reflects changes in the local language from Cumbric to Old English, the Germanic language of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia that permeated the area from the mid-7th century and is regarded as the ancestor of modern Scots. The Celtic element din was dropped and replaced by the Old English burh. The first documentary evidence of the medieval burgh is a royal charter, c.1124–1127, by King David I granting a toft in "burgo meo de Edenesburg" to the Priory of Dunfermline.

In modern Gaelic, the city is called Dùn Èideann (often rendered Dunedin by English-speakers).

History

Early history

Arthurs seat edinburgh
Edinburgh, showing Arthur's Seat, one of the earliest known sites of human habitation in the area

The earliest known human habitation in the Edinburgh area was at Cramond, where evidence was found of a Mesolithic camp site dated to c. 8500 BC. Traces of later Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements have been found on Castle Rock, Arthur's Seat, Craiglockhart Hill and the Pentland Hills.

When the Romans arrived in Lothian at the end of the 1st century AD, they discovered a Celtic Brittonic tribe whose name they recorded as the Votadini. At some point before the 7th century AD, the Gododdin, who were presumably descendants of the Votadini, built the hill fort of Din Eidyn or Etin. Although its location has not been identified, it seems likely they would have chosen a commanding position like the Castle Rock, Arthur's Seat, or Calton Hill.

In 638, the Gododdin stronghold was besieged by forces loyal to King Oswald of Northumbria, and around this time control of Lothian passed to the Angles. Their influence continued for the next three centuries until around 950, when, during the reign of Indulf, son of Constantine II, the "burh" (fortress), named in the 10th century Pictish Chronicle as oppidum Eden, fell to the Scots. It thenceforth remained under their jurisdiction.

The royal burgh was founded by King David I in the early 12th century on land belonging to the Crown, though the precise date is unknown. By the middle of the 14th century, the French chronicler Jean Froissart was describing it as the capital of Scotland (c. 1365), and James III (1451–88) referred to it in the 15th century as "the principal burgh of our kingdom". Despite the destruction caused by an English assault in 1544, the town slowly recovered, and was at the centre of events in the 16th century Scottish Reformation and 17th century Wars of the Covenant.

17th century

Edinburgh in the 17thC (detail) by Wenceslas Hollar (1670)
Edinburgh in the 17th century

In 1603, King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne, uniting the crowns of Scotland and England in a personal union known as the Union of the Crowns, though Scotland remained, in all other respects, a separate kingdom. In 1638, King Charles I's attempt to introduce Anglican church forms in Scotland encountered stiff Presbyterian opposition culminating in the conflicts of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Subsequent Scottish support for Charles Stuart's restoration to the throne of England resulted in Edinburgh's occupation by Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth of England forces – the New Model Army – in 1650.

In the 17th century, Edinburgh's boundaries were still defined by the city's defensive town walls. As a result, the city's growing population was accommodated by increasing the height of the houses. Buildings of 11 storeys or more were common, and have been described as forerunners of the modern-day skyscraper. Most of these old structures were replaced by the predominantly Victorian buildings seen in today's Old Town.

18th century

In 1706, the Parliaments of England and Scotland passed the Acts of Union, uniting the two kingdoms in the Kingdom of Great Britain. As a consequence, the Parliament of Scotland merged with the Parliament of England to form the Parliament of Great Britain, which sat at Westminster in London. The Union was opposed by many Scots, resulting in riots in the city.

By the first half of the 18th century, despite rising prosperity evidenced by its growing importance as a banking centre, Edinburgh was described as one of Europe's most densely populated, overcrowded and unsanitary towns. Visitors were struck by the fact that the various social classes shared the same urban space, even inhabiting the same tenement buildings; although here a form of social segregation did prevail, whereby shopkeepers and tradesmen tended to occupy the cheaper-to-rent cellars and garrets, while the more well-to-do professional classes occupied the more expensive middle storeys.

The Parliament Close and Public Characters Fifty Years Since
A painting showing Edinburgh characters (based on John Kay's caricatures) behind St Giles' Cathedral in the late 18th century

During the Jacobite rising of 1745, Edinburgh was briefly occupied by the Jacobite "Highland Army" before its march into England. After its eventual defeat at Culloden, there followed a period of reprisals and pacification, largely directed at the rebellious clans. In Edinburgh, the Town Council, keen to emulate London by initiating city improvements and expansion to the north of the castle, reaffirmed its belief in the Union and loyalty to the Hanoverian monarch George III by its choice of names for the streets of the New Town: for example, Rose Street and Thistle Street; and for the royal family, George Street, Queen Street, Hanover Street, Frederick Street and Princes Street (in honour of George's two sons).

In the second half of the century, the city was at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment, when thinkers like David Hume, Adam Smith, James Hutton and Joseph Black were familiar figures in its streets. Edinburgh became a major intellectual centre, earning it the nickname "Athens of the North" because of its many neo-classical buildings and reputation for learning, recalling ancient Athens. In the 18th century novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett one character describes Edinburgh as a "hotbed of genius". Edinburgh was also a major centre for the Scottish book trade. The highly successful London bookseller Andrew Millar was apprenticed there to James McEuen.

From the 1770s onwards, the professional and business classes gradually deserted the Old Town in favour of the more elegant "one-family" residences of the New Town, a migration that changed the city's social character. According to the foremost historian of this development, "Unity of social feeling was one of the most valuable heritages of old Edinburgh, and its disappearance was widely and properly lamented."

19th and 20th centuries

Edinburgh Castle from Grass Market
Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket, photographed by George Washington Wilson in 1865

Although Edinburgh's traditional industries of printing, brewing and distilling continued to grow in the 19th century, and were joined by new rubber works and engineering works, there was little industrialisation compared with other cities in Britain. By 1821, Edinburgh had been overtaken by Glasgow as Scotland's largest city. The city centre between Princes Street and George Street became a major commercial and shopping district, a development partly stimulated by the arrival of railways in the 1840s. The Old Town became an increasingly dilapidated, overcrowded slum with high mortality rates. Improvements carried out under Lord Provost William Chambers in the 1860s began the transformation of the area into the predominantly Victorian Old Town seen today. More improvements followed in the early 20th century as a result of the work of Patrick Geddes, but relative economic stagnation during the two world wars and beyond saw the Old Town deteriorate further before major slum clearance in the 1960s and 1970s began to reverse the process. University building developments which transformed the George Square and Potterrow areas proved highly controversial.

Standard Life Building, Lothian Road Edinburgh
Standard Life Building in the Edinburgh Financial District

Since the 1990s a new "financial district", including a new Edinburgh International Conference Centre, has grown mainly on demolished railway property to the west of the castle, stretching into Fountainbridge, a run-down 19th-century industrial suburb which has undergone radical change since the 1980s with the demise of industrial and brewery premises. This ongoing development has enabled Edinburgh to maintain its place as the United Kingdom's second largest financial and administrative centre after London. Financial services now account for a third of all commercial office space in the city. The development of Edinburgh Park, a new business and technology park covering 38 acres (15 ha), 4 mi (6 km) west of the city centre, has also contributed to the District Council's strategy for the city's major economic regeneration.

In 1998, the Scotland Act, which came into force the following year, established a devolved Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive (renamed the Scottish Government since September 2007). Both based in Edinburgh, they are responsible for governing Scotland while reserved matters such as defence, taxation and foreign affairs remain the responsibility of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

Geography

Cityscape

Situated in Scotland's Central Belt, Edinburgh lies on the Firth of Forth's southern shore. The city centre is 2 12 miles (4.0 km) southwest of the shoreline of Leith and 26 miles (42 km) inland, as the crow flies, from the east coast of Scotland and the North Sea at Dunbar. While the early burgh grew up near the prominent Castle Rock, the modern city is often said to be built on seven hills, namely Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur's Seat and the Castle Rock, giving rise to allusions to the seven hills of Rome.

Occupying a narrow gap between the Firth of Forth to the north and the Pentland Hills and their outrunners to the south, the city sprawls over a landscape which is the product of early volcanic activity and later periods of intensive glaciation.

Igneous activity between 350 and 400 million years ago, coupled with faulting, led to the creation of tough basalt volcanic plugs, which predominate over much of the area. One such example is the Castle Rock which forced the advancing icesheet to divide, sheltering the softer rock and forming a 1-mile-long (1.6 km) tail of material to the east, thus creating a distinctive crag and tail formation. Glacial erosion on the north side of the crag gouged a deep valley later filled by the now drained Nor Loch. These features, along with another hollow on the rock's south side, formed an ideal natural strongpoint upon which Edinburgh Castle was built. Similarly, Arthur's Seat is the remains of a volcano dating from the Carboniferous period, which was eroded by a glacier moving west to east during the ice age. Erosive action such as plucking and abrasion exposed the rocky crags to the west before leaving a tail of deposited glacial material swept to the east. This process formed the distinctive Salisbury Crags, a series of teschenite cliffs between Arthur's Seat and the location of the early burgh. The residential areas of Marchmont and Bruntsfield are built along a series of drumlin ridges south of the city centre, which were deposited as the glacier receded.

Other prominent landforms such as Calton Hill and Corstorphine Hill are also products of glacial erosion. The Braid Hills and Blackford Hill are a series of small summits to the city's south west that command expansive views looking northwards over the urban area to the Forth.

View of Edinburgh from Blackford Hill 2
View of Edinburgh from Blackford Hill

Edinburgh is drained by the river named the Water of Leith, which rises at the Colzium Springs in the Pentland Hills and runs for 29 kilometres (18 mi) through the south and west of the city, emptying into the Firth of Forth at Leith. The nearest the river gets to the city centre is at Dean Village on the north-western edge of the New Town, where a deep gorge is spanned by Thomas Telford's Dean Bridge, built in 1832 for the road to Queensferry. The Water of Leith Walkway is a mixed use trail that follows the course of the river for 19.6 kilometres (12.2 mi) from Balerno to Leith.

Excepting the shoreline of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh is encircled by a green belt, designated in 1957, which stretches from Dalmeny in the west to Prestongrange in the east. With an average width of 3.2 kilometres (2 mi) the principal objectives of the green belt were to contain the outward expansion of the city and to prevent the agglomeration of urban areas. Expansion affecting the green belt is strictly controlled but developments such as Edinburgh Airport and the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston lie within the zone. Similarly, suburbs such as Juniper Green and Balerno are situated on green belt land. One feature of the Edinburgh green belt is the inclusion of parcels of land within the city which are designated green belt, even though they do not connect with the peripheral ring. Examples of these independent wedges of green belt include Holyrood Park and Corstorphine Hill.

Edinburgh Old Town Skyline
Edinburgh Old Town Skyline Panorama

Areas

Edinburgh comprises distinct areas that retain much of their original character as settlements in existence before they were absorbed into the sprawling city of the nineteenth century. Many areas, such as Dalry contain residences that are multi-occupancy buildings known as tenements, although the more southern and western parts of the city have traditionally been more affluent with a greater number of detached and semi-detached villas.

Edinburgh map
Map showing the areas of central Edinburgh

The historic centre of Edinburgh is divided in two by the broad green swathe of Princes Street Gardens. To the south the view is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, built high on the castle rock, and the long sweep of the Old Town descending towards Holyrood Palace. To the north lie Princes Street and the New Town.

The West End includes the financial district, with insurance and banking offices as well as the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Edinburgh's Old and New Towns were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the unique character of the Old Town with its medieval street layout and the planned Georgian New Town, including the adjoining Dean Village and Calton Hill areas. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city, a higher proportion relative to area than any other city in the United Kingdom.

The Old Town runs downhill and terminates at Holyrood Palace. Minor streets (called closes or wynds) lie on either side of the main spine forming a herringbone pattern. The street has several fine public buildings such as the church of St Giles, the City Chambers and the Law Courts. Other places of historical interest nearby are Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Grassmarket. The street layout is typical of the old quarters of many northern European cities.

The castle perches on top of a rocky crag (the remnant of an extinct volcano) and the Royal Mile runs down the crest of a ridge from it. Due to space restrictions imposed by the narrowness of this landform, the Old Town became home to some of the earliest "high rise" residential buildings. Multi-storey dwellings known as lands were the norm from the 16th century onwards with ten and eleven storeys being typical and one even reaching fourteen or fifteen storeys.

Numerous vaults below street level were inhabited to accommodate the influx of incomers, particularly Irish immigrants, during the Industrial Revolution.

The New Town was an 18th-century solution to the problem of an increasingly crowded city which had been confined to the ridge sloping down from the castle. In 1766 a competition to design a "New Town" was won by James Craig, a 27-year-old architect. The plan was a rigid, ordered grid, which fitted in well with Enlightenment ideas of rationality. The principal street is George Street, running along the natural ridge to the north of what became known as the "Old Town". To either side of it are two other main streets: Princes Street and Queen Street. Princes Street has become Edinburgh's main shopping street and now has few of its original Georgian buildings. The three main streets are connected by a series of streets running perpendicular to them. The east and west ends of George Street are terminated by St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square respectively. The latter, designed by Robert Adam, influenced the architectural style of the New Town into the early 19th century. Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, is on the north side of Charlotte Square.

The hollow between the Old and New Towns was formerly the Nor Loch, which was created for the town's defence but came to be used by the inhabitants for dumping their sewage. It was drained by the 1820s as part of the city's northward expansion. Craig's original plan included an ornamental canal on the site of the loch, but this idea was abandoned. Soil excavated while laying the foundations of buildings in the New Town was dumped on the site of the loch to create the slope connecting the Old and New Towns known as The Mound.

In the middle of the 19th century the National Gallery of Scotland and Royal Scottish Academy Building were built on The Mound, and tunnels for the railway line between Haymarket and Waverley stations were driven through it.

The Southside is a popular residential part of the city, which includes the districts of St Leonards, Marchmont, Newington, Sciennes, the Grange and Blackford. The Southside is broadly analogous to the area covered formerly by the Burgh Muir, and grew in popularity as a residential area after the opening of the South Bridge in the 1780s. The Southside is particularly popular with families (many state and private schools are here), young professionals and students (the central University of Edinburgh campus is based around George Square just north of Marchmont and the Meadows), and Napier University (with major campuses around Merchiston and Morningside). The area is also well provided with hotel and "bed and breakfast" accommodation for visiting festival-goers. These districts often feature in works of fiction. For example, Church Hill in Morningside, was the home of Muriel Spark's Miss Jean Brodie,

and Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus lives in Marchmont and works in St Leonards.

The Shore, Leith
The Shore, Leith

Leith was historically the port of Edinburgh, an arrangement of unknown date that was reconfirmed by the royal charter Robert the Bruce granted to the city in 1329. The port developed a separate identity from Edinburgh, which to some extent it still retains, and it was a matter of great resentment when the two burghs merged in 1920 into the City of Edinburgh. Even today the parliamentary seat is known as "Edinburgh North and Leith". The loss of traditional industries and commerce (the last shipyard closed in 1983) resulted in economic decline. The Edinburgh Waterfront development has transformed old dockland areas from Leith to Granton into residential areas with shopping and leisure facilities and helped rejuvenate the area. With the redevelopment, Edinburgh has gained the business of cruise liner companies which now provide cruises to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The coastal suburb of Portobello is characterised by Georgian villas, Victorian tenements, a popular beach and promenade and cafes, bars, restaurants and independent shops. There are rowing and sailing clubs and a restored Victorian swimming pool, including Turkish baths.

The urban area of Edinburgh is almost entirely within the City of Edinburgh Council boundary, merging with Musselburgh in East Lothian. Towns within easy reach of the city boundary include Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg, Loanhead, Newtongrange, Prestonpans, Tranent, Penicuik, Haddington, Livingston, Broxburn and Dunfermline. Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City region with a population in 2014 of 1,339,380.

Climate

Like most of Scotland, Edinburgh has a temperate, maritime climate which is relatively mild despite its northerly latitude. Winter daytime temperatures rarely fall below freezing and are milder than places such as Moscow and Newfoundland which lie at similar latitudes. Summer temperatures are normally moderate, rarely exceeding 22 °C (72 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 31.4 °C (88.5 °F) on 4 August 1975 at Turnhouse Airport. The lowest temperature recorded in recent years was −14.6 °C (5.7 °F) during December 2010 at Gogarbank.

The city's proximity to the sea mitigates any large variations in temperature or extremes of climate. Given Edinburgh's position between the coast and hills, it is renowned as "the windy city", with the prevailing wind direction coming from the south west, which is often associated with warm, unstable air from the North Atlantic Current that can give rise to rainfall – although considerably less than cities to the west, such as Glasgow. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. Winds from an easterly direction are usually drier but considerably colder, and may be accompanied by haar, a persistent coastal fog. Vigorous Atlantic depressions, known as European windstorms, can affect the city between October and May.

There is also a weather station in Gogarbank on the city's outskirts. This slightly inland station has a slightly wider temperature span between seasons, is cloudier and somewhat wetter, but differences are minor.

Climate data for Edinburgh (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.0
(59)
15.2
(59.4)
20.0
(68)
22.8
(73)
29.0
(84.2)
27.8
(82)
30.0
(86)
31.4
(88.5)
26.7
(80.1)
24.4
(75.9)
17.3
(63.1)
15.4
(59.7)
31.4
(88.5)
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
(44.6)
7.5
(45.5)
9.5
(49.1)
11.8
(53.2)
14.7
(58.5)
17.2
(63)
19.1
(66.4)
18.9
(66)
16.5
(61.7)
13.1
(55.6)
9.6
(49.3)
7.0
(44.6)
12.66
(54.79)
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
1.5
(34.7)
2.8
(37)
4.3
(39.7)
6.8
(44.2)
9.7
(49.5)
11.5
(52.7)
11.4
(52.5)
9.4
(48.9)
6.5
(43.7)
3.7
(38.7)
1.3
(34.3)
5.86
(42.55)
Record low °C (°F) −15.5
(4.1)
−11.7
(10.9)
−11.1
(12)
−6.1
(21)
−2.4
(27.7)
1.1
(34)
4.4
(39.9)
2.2
(36)
-1.1
(30)
-3.7
(25.3)
−8.3
(17.1)
−11.5
(11.3)
−15.5
(4.1)
Precipitation mm (inches) 67.5
(2.657)
47.0
(1.85)
51.7
(2.035)
40.5
(1.594)
48.9
(1.925)
61.3
(2.413)
65.0
(2.559)
60.2
(2.37)
63.7
(2.508)
75.6
(2.976)
62.1
(2.445)
60.8
(2.394)
704.3
(27.728)
Avg. rainy days 12.5 9.4 9.9 8.8 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.7 10.2 12.4 11.2 11.4 124.2
Sunshine hours 53.5 78.5 114.8 144.6 188.4 165.9 172.2 161.5 128.8 101.2 71.0 46.2 1,426.6
Source: Met Office

Demography

Current

Edinburgh compared
UK Census 2011 Edinburgh Scotland
Total population 476,626 5,295,000
Population growth 2001–2011 6.2% 5.0%
White 91.7% 96.0%
Asian 5.5% 2.7%
Black 1.4% 0.8%
Christian 43.0% 54.0%
Muslim 2.6% 1.4%

The most recent official population estimates are 464,990 for the city of Edinburgh and 492,680 for the local authority area. Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City region with a population in 2014 of 1,339,380. This makes Edinburgh Scotland's second largest city after Glasgow and the seventh largest in Britain.

Edinburgh has a high proportion of young adults, with 19.5% of the population in their 20s (exceeded only by Aberdeen) and 15.2% in their 30s which is the highest in Scotland. The proportion of Edinburgh's population born in the UK fell from 92% to 84% between 2001 and 2011, while the proportion born in Scotland fell from 78% to 70%. Of those Edinburgh residents born in the UK, 335,000 or 83% were born in Scotland, with 58,000 or 14% being born in England.

The proportion of people born outside the UK was 15.9% comparing with 8% in 2001. Countries accounting for the largest number of Edinburgh citizens born overseas are: Poland (13,000), Republic of Ireland (8,603), China (8,076), India (6,470), Pakistan (5,858), United States (3,700), Germany (3,500), Australia (2,100), France (2,000) Spain (2,000), South Africa (1,800) and Canada (1,800). 47% of the non-UK born population in Edinburgh is of European origin, which is amongst the highest for any UK city.

Some 13,000 people or 2.7% of the city's population are Polish. 39,500 people or 8.2% of Edinburgh's population class themselves as Non-White which is an increase from 4% in 2001. Of the Non-White population, the largest group by far are Asian, totalling 26,264 people. Within the Asian population, the Chinese are now the largest sub-group, with 8,076 people, amounting to about 1.7% of the city's total population. The city's Indian population amounts to 6,470 (1.4% of the total population), while there are some 5,858 Pakistanis (1.2% of the total population). Although they account for only 1,277 people or 0.3% of the city's population, Edinburgh has the highest number and proportion of Bangladeshis in Scotland. Over 7,000 people were born in African countries (1.6% of the total population) and nearly 7,000 in the Americas. With the notable exception of Inner London, Edinburgh has a higher number of people born in the United States (over 3,700) than any other city in the UK.

Historical

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1592 8,003 —    
1751 49,000 +512.3%
1801 82,560 +68.5%
1811 102,987 +24.7%
1821 138,235 +34.2%
1831 161,909 +17.1%
1841 166,450 +2.8%
1851 193,929 +16.5%
1901 394,898 +103.6%
1911 400,806 +1.5%
1921 420,264 +4.9%
1931 439,010 +4.5%
1951 466,761 +6.3%
1991 418,748 −10.3%
2001 448,624 +7.1%
2011 476,626 +6.2%
Source:

A census by the Edinburgh presbytery in 1592 recorded a population of 8,003 adults spread equally north and south of the High Street which runs along the spine of the ridge sloping down from the Castle. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the population expanded rapidly, rising from 49,000 in 1751 to 136,000 in 1831, primarily due to migration from rural areas. As the population grew, problems of overcrowding in the Old Town, particularly in the cramped tenements that lined the present day Royal Mile and the Cowgate, were exacerbated. Poor sanitary arrangements resulted in a high incidence of disease, with outbreaks of cholera occurring in 1832, 1848 and 1866.

The construction of the New Town from 1767 onwards witnessed the migration of the professional and business classes from the difficult living conditions in the Old Town to the lower density, higher quality surroundings taking shape on land to the north.

Expansion southwards from the Old Town saw more tenements being built in the 19th century, giving rise to Victorian suburbs such as Dalry, Newington, Marchmont and Bruntsfield.

Early 20th century population growth coincided with lower-density suburban development. As the city expanded to the south and west, detached and semi-detached villas with large gardens replaced tenements as the predominant building style. Nonetheless, the 2001 census revealed that over 55% of Edinburgh's population were still living in tenements or blocks of flats, a figure in line with other Scottish cities, but much higher than other British cities, and even central London.

From the early to mid 20th century the growth in population, together with slum clearance in the Old Town and other areas, such as Dumbiedykes, Leith, and Fountainbridge, led to the creation of new estates such as Stenhouse and Saughton, Craigmillar and Niddrie, Pilton and Muirhouse, Piershill, and Sighthill.

Religion

St. Giles, Edinburgh
The High Kirk of Edinburgh, known colloquially as St Giles' Cathedral

The Church of Scotland claims the largest membership of any single religious denomination in Edinburgh. In 2010 there were 83 congregations in the Presbytery of Edinburgh. Its most prominent church is St Giles on the Royal Mile, first dedicated in 1243 but believed to date from before the 12th century. Saint Giles is historically the patron saint of Edinburgh. St Cuthbert's, situated at the west end of Princes Street Gardens in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and St Giles' can lay claim to being the oldest Christian sites in the city, though the present St Cuthbert's, designed by Hippolyte Blanc, was dedicated in 1894.

Other Church of Scotland churches include Greyfriars Kirk, the Canongate Kirk, St Andrew's and St George's West Church and the Barclay Church. The Church of Scotland Offices are in Edinburgh, as is the Assembly Hall where the annual General Assembly is held.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh has 27 parishes across the city. The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrew's and Edinburgh has his official residence in Greenhill, and the diocesan offices are in nearby Marchmont. The Diocese of Edinburgh of the Scottish Episcopal Church has over 50 churches, half of them in the city. Its centre is the late 19th century Gothic style St Mary's Cathedral in the West End's Palmerston Place. There are several independent churches in the city, both Catholic and Protestant, including Charlotte Chapel, Carrubbers Christian Centre, Morningside Baptist Church, Bellevue Chapel and Sacred Heart. There are also churches belonging to Quakers, Christadelphians, Seventh-day Adventists, Church of Christ, Scientist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Edinburgh Central Mosque – Edinburgh's main mosque and Islamic Centre – is in Potterrow, on the city's Southside, near Bristo Square. Construction was largely financed by a gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and was completed in 1998. There are other mosques in Annandale Street Lane, off Leith Walk, and in Queensferry Road, Blackhall as well as other Islamic centres across the city. There is also an active presence of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The first recorded presence of a Jewish community in Edinburgh dates back to the late 18th century. Edinburgh's Orthodox synagogue, opened in 1932, is in Salisbury Road and can accommodate a congregation of 2000. A Liberal Jewish congregation also meets in the city. There are a Sikh gurdwara and a Hindu mandir, both in Leith, and a Brahma Kumaris centre in the Polwarth area. The Edinburgh Buddhist Centre, run by the Triratna Buddhist Community, formerly situated in Melville Terrace, now runs sessions at the Healthy Life Centre, Bread Street. Other Buddhist traditions are represented by groups which meet in the capital: the Community of Interbeing (followers of Thich Nhat Hanh), Rigpa, Samye Dzong, Theravadin, Pure Land and Shambala. There is a Sōtō Zen Priory in Portobello and a Theravadin Thai Buddhist Monastery in Slateford Road. Edinburgh is home to an active Bahá'í Community, and a Theosophical Society meets in Great King Street. Edinburgh has an active Inter-Faith Association.

Culture

Festivals and celebrations

Edinburgh festival

The city hosts the annual Edinburgh Festival, a series of events that run between the end of July and early September each year. The best known of these events are the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Edinburgh castle tattoo
Pipers emerging from Edinburgh Castle during the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The longest established of these festivals is the Edinburgh International Festival, which was first held in 1947 and consists mainly of a programme of high-profile theatre productions and classical music performances, featuring international directors, conductors, theatre companies and orchestras.

This has since been overtaken both in size and popularity by the Edinburgh Fringe which began as a programme of marginal acts alongside the "official" Festival and has become the world's largest performing arts festival. In 2006, 1867 different shows were staged in 261 venues across the city. Comedy has become one of the mainstays of the Fringe, with numerous well-known comedians getting their first 'break' here, often by being chosen to receive the Edinburgh Comedy Award. In 2008, the largest comedy venues "on the Fringe" launched the Edinburgh Comedy Festival as a festival within a festival.

Other festivals include the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival which takes place in February, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, which takes place in June, the Edinburgh Gaelic Festival, which takes place in November, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Edge Festival (formerly known as T on the Fringe), a popular music offshoot of the Fringe, began in 2000, replacing the smaller Flux and Planet Pop series of shows.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, occupies the Castle Esplanade every night, with massed pipers and military bands drawn from around the world. Performances end with a short fireworks display. As well as the various summer festivals, the Edinburgh International Science Festival is held annually in April and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Edinburgh Hogmanay Longship
A Viking longship being burnt during Edinburgh's annual Hogmanay celebrations.

The annual Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration was originally an informal street party focused on the Tron Kirk in the Old Town's High Street. Since 1993, it has been officially organised with the focus moved to Princes Street. In 1996, over 300,000 people attended, leading to ticketing of the main street party in later years up to a limit of 100,000 tickets. Hogmanay now covers four days of processions, concerts and fireworks, with the street party beginning on Hogmanay. Alternative tickets are available for entrance into the Princes Street Gardens concert and Céilidh, where well-known artists perform and ticket holders can participate in traditional Scottish céilidh dancing. The event attracts thousands of people from all over the world.

On the night of 30 April the Beltane Fire Festival takes place on Calton Hill, involving a procession followed by scenes inspired by pagan old spring fertility celebrations. At the beginning of October each year the Dussehra Hindu Festival is also held on Calton Hill.

Music, theatre and film

Festival Theatre
Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Outside the Festival season, Edinburgh supports several theatres and production companies. The Royal Lyceum Theatre has its own company, while the King's Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Edinburgh Playhouse stage large touring shows. The Traverse Theatre presents a more contemporary repertoire. Amateur theatre companies productions are staged at the Bedlam Theatre, Church Hill Theatre and King's Theatre among others.

The Usher Hall is Edinburgh's premier venue for classical music, as well as occasional popular music concerts. It was the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest 1972. Other halls staging music and theatre include The Hub, the Assembly Rooms and the Queen's Hall. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is based in Edinburgh.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Traverse Theatre

Edinburgh has two repertory cinemas, the Edinburgh Filmhouse and The Cameo, as well as the independent Dominion Cinema and a range of multiplexes.

Edinburgh has a healthy popular music scene. Occasionally large concerts are staged at Murrayfield and Meadowbank, while mid-sized events take place at smaller venues such as the Corn Exchange, the Liquid Rooms and the Bongo Club. In 2010, PRS for Music listed Edinburgh among the UK's top ten 'most musical' cities. Several city pubs are well known for their live performances of folk music. They include 'Sandy Bell's' in Forrest Road, 'The Captain's Bar' in South College Street, and 'Whistlebinkies' in Niddry Street.

Edinburgh is home to a flourishing group of contemporary composers such as Nigel Osborne, Peter Nelson, Lyell Cresswell, Hafliði Hallgrímsson, Edward Harper, Robert Crawford, Robert Dow and John McLeod. McLeod's music is heard regularly on BBC Radio 3 and throughout the UK.

Rockstar North, formerly DMA Design, known for creating the Grand Theft Auto series, is based in Edinburgh.

Media

The Edinburgh Evening News is based in Edinburgh and published every day except Sunday. Johnston Press owns the title and The Scotsman; their corporate headquarters are in Edinburgh and their national newspaper is the only one published in the city. The Herald newspaper, published in Glasgow, also covers Edinburgh.

The city has two commercial radio stations: Forth 1, a station which broadcasts mainstream chart music, and Forth 2 on medium wave which plays classic hits. Capital Radio Scotland and Eklipse Sports Radio also have transmitters covering Edinburgh. Along with the UK national radio stations, Radio Scotland and the Gaelic language service BBC Radio nan Gàidheal are also broadcast. DAB digital radio is broadcast over two local multiplexes. BFBS Radio broadcasts from studios on the base at Dreghorn Barracks across the city on 98.5FM as part of its UK Bases network

STV Edinburgh, a local TV channel for the city, launched on 12 January 2015. Television, along with most radio services, is broadcast to the city from the Craigkelly transmitting station situated in Fife on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth.

Museums, libraries and galleries

National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
National Gallery of Scotland

Edinburgh has many museums and libraries. These include the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, National War Museum, the Museum of Edinburgh, Surgeons' Hall Museum, the Writers' Museum, the Museum of Childhood and Our Dynamic Earth. The Museum on the Mound has exhibits on money and banking.

Edinburgh Zoo, covering 82 acres (33 ha) on Corstorphine Hill, is the second most popular paid tourist attraction in Scotland, and currently home to two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, on loan from the People's Republic of China.

Edinburgh is also home to The Royal Yacht Britannia, decommissioned in 1997 and now a five-star visitor attraction and evening events venue permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal.

Edinburgh contains Scotland's five National Galleries of Art as well as numerous smaller art galleries. The national collection is housed in the National Gallery of Scotland, located on the Mound, now linked to the Royal Scottish Academy which holds regular major exhibitions of paintings. Contemporary collections are shown in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which occupies a split site at Belford. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street focuses on portraits and photography.

The council-owned City Art Centre in Market Street mounts regular art exhibitions. Across the road, The Fruitmarket Gallery offers world class exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring work by British and international artists with both emerging and established international reputations.

There are many small private galleries, including the Ingleby Gallery. This provides a varied programme including shows by Callum Innes, Peter Liversidge, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Forster, and Sean Scully.

The city hosts several of Scotland's galleries and organisations dedicated to contemporary visual art. Significant strands of this infrastructure include: The Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh College of Art, Talbot Rice Gallery (University of Edinburgh) and the Edinburgh Annuale.

Shopping

The locale around Princes Street is the main shopping area in the city centre, with souvenir shops, chain stores such as Boots the Chemist, H&M and Jenners. George Street, north of Princes Street, is the preferred location for some upmarket shops and independent stores. The St. James Centre at the east end of Princes Street is currently being redeveloped, however the John Lewis store remains open. Multrees Walk, adjacent to the St. James Centre, is a recent addition to the central shopping district, dominated by the presence of Harvey Nichols. Shops here include Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Calvin Klein.

Edinburgh also has substantial retail parks outside the city centre. These include The Gyle Shopping Centre and Hermiston Gait in the west of the city, Cameron Toll Shopping Centre, Straiton Retail Park and Fort Kinnaird in the south and east, and Ocean Terminal in the north on the Leith waterfront.

Transport

Lothian Buses 833 G833GSX
Lothian Buses on Princes Street

Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest and biggest airport and the principal international gateway to the capital, handling around 11 million passengers in 2015. In anticipation of rising passenger numbers, the airport operator BAA outlined a draft masterplan in 2011 to provide for the expansion of the airfield and the terminal building. The airport has since been sold, in June 2012, to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). The possibility of building a second runway to cope with an increased number of aircraft movements has also been mooted.

Travel in Edinburgh is undertaken predominantly by bus. Lothian Buses operate the majority of city bus services within the city and to surrounding suburbs, with the most routes running via Princes Street. Services further afield operate from the Edinburgh Bus Station off St Andrew Square and Waterloo Place and are operated mainly by Stagecoach, Scottish Citylink, National Express Coaches, First Scotland East & Perryman's Buses.

Lothian Buses, as the successor company to the Edinburgh Corporation Transport Department, also operates all of the city's branded public tour buses, night bus service and airport bus link.

In 2010, Lothian Buses recorded 109 million passenger journeys – a 1.9% rise on the previous year.
334038 sits at Edinburgh Waverley, 05 April 2013
A train preparing to depart from Edinburgh Waverley Station

Edinburgh Waverley Station is the second-busiest railway station in Scotland, with only Glasgow Central handling more passengers. On the evidence of passenger entries and exits between April 2010 and March 2011, Edinburgh Waverley is the fifth-busiest station outside London; it is also the UK's second biggest station in terms of the number of platforms. Waverley is the terminus for most trains arriving from London King's Cross and the departure point for many rail services within Scotland operated by Abellio ScotRail.

To the west of the city centre lies Haymarket Station which is an important commuter stop. Opened in 2003, Edinburgh Park station serves the Gyle business park in the west of the city and the nearby Gogarburn headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The Edinburgh Crossrail route connects Edinburgh Park with Haymarket, Edinburgh Waverley and the suburban stations of Brunstane and Newcraighall in the east of the city. There are also commuter lines to South Gyle and Dalmeny, the latter serving South Queensferry by the Forth Bridges, and to Wester Hailes and Curriehill in the south west of the city.

To tackle traffic congestion, Edinburgh is now served by six park and ride sites on the periphery of the city at Sheriffhall (in Midlothian), Ingliston, Riccarton, Inverkeithing (in Fife), Newcraighall and Straiton (in Midlothian). A referendum of Edinburgh residents in February 2005 rejected a proposal to introduce congestion charging in the city.

Edinburgh trams, Shandwick Place
Edinburgh Trams in Shandwick Place

Edinburgh Trams became operational on 31 May 2014. The city had been without a tram system since Edinburgh Corporation Tramways ceased on 16 November 1956. Following parliamentary approval in 2007, construction began in early 2008. The first stage of the project was expected to be completed by July 2011 but, following delays caused by extra utility work and a long-running contractual dispute between the Council and the main contractor, Bilfinger SE, the project was rescheduled. The cost of the project rose from the original projection of £545 million to £750 million in mid-2011 and some suggest it could eventually exceed £1 billion. The completed line is 8.7 miles (14.0 km) in length, running from Edinburgh Airport, west of the city, to its current terminus at York Place in the city centre's East End. It was originally planned to continue down Leith Walk to Ocean Terminal and where it would terminate at Newhaven.

Should the original plan be taken to completion, trams will also run from Haymarket through Ravelston and Craigleith to Granton Square on the Waterfront Edinburgh. Long-term proposals envisage a line running west from the airport to Ratho and Newbridge and another connecting Granton Square to Newhaven via Lower Granton Road, thus completing the Line 1 (North Edinburgh) loop. A further line serving the south of the city has also been suggested.

Transport for Edinburgh released a statement on 7 July 2014 that average weekly tram passengers are currently in excess of 90,000 after the first week of service saw 130,000 journeys taken.

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

The City of Edinburgh has entered into 14 international twinning arrangements since 1954. Most of the arrangements are styled as 'Twin Cities' but the agreement with Kraków is designated as a 'Partner City', and the agreement with Kyoto Prefecture is officially styled as a 'Friendship Link', reflecting its status as the only region to be twinned with Edinburgh.

City Since
Germany Munich, Germany 1954
France Nice, France 1958
Italy Florence, Italy 1964
New Zealand Dunedin, New Zealand 1974
Canada Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 1977
United States San Diego, California, United States 1977
People's Republic of China Xi'an, China 1985
Template:Country data SPA Segovia, Spain 1985
Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine 1989
Denmark Aalborg, Denmark 1991
Japan Kyoto Prefecture, Japan 1994
Nepal Kathmandu, Nepal 1994
Poland Kraków, Poland 1995
Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia 1995

For a list of consulates in Edinburgh see List of diplomatic missions in Scotland.

Images


Edinburgh Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.