Edinburgh

is the second-most populous city in Scotland with a little over half a million residents living in the city

What You Need to Know

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the seat of the Scottish government since the 15th century from the monarchs and now the parliament. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official home of the Scottish monarch. As the capital of the country, the city has also been the center of politics, finance, arts and education in Scotland. It hosts the second-largest financial centre in the UK and ranks as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK luring around 2 million foreign tourists every year.


Warmly nicknamed by the locals as Auld Reekie, Edinburgh is the second-most populous city in Scotland with a little over half a million residents living in the city. This means “Old Smoky” in Scottish which describes the cloudy and foggy atmosphere of the old town, which is immediately visible from a distance.


Around 79% of the population of Edinburgh is Scottish. The rest are English and Irish among others. Being an urban city which is the center of financial and commercial establishments, it attracts many young urban professionals with ages ranging between 20 and 30 years old, which makes up around 45% of the population.

The city is also fast becoming a melting pot of different ethnicities in Scotland. The city is home to several immigrants from Poland, China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. This minority plays an important role to the economy and constitution of the modern city.

In as early as 8500 BC, there are initial human settlements in Cramond. During the Bronze Age and Iron Age, primitive men had also lived in Craiglockhart Hill, Pentland Hills, Castle Rock, and Arthur's Seat.


In the 1st century AD, a Brittonic Celtic tribe called Votadini became the Gododdin kingdom during the Early Middle Ages, the first known kingdom in Scotland. One of its major districts called Eidyn particularly in Castle Rock site rose as its major bastion and center.  The Goddoddin fell some time in 638 AD.


In the early 12th century, King David I of Scotland established the royal burgh, which has been labeled as the capital of Scotland or the principal burgh of the kingdom in the 14 and 15th centuries. After recovering from the damage of the British assault in 1544, the town has since been placesd at the heart of many Scottish events including its split from Roman Catholicism with the domination of the Presbyterian Protestantism and the succeeding religious and political wars.


The kingdoms of Scotland and England momentarily united in the early 1600s under King James VI of Scotland who succeeded the English crown. However, this harmony ended when Anglican beliefs were introduced in Scotland which resulted in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. By 1650, Edinburgh was conquered by Oliver Cromwell of England.


In 1707, Scotland and England once again united through a treaty passed by their respective parliaments. They became known as the Kingdom of Great Britain. Many Scots were against a united parliament which sat at Westminster, London that engendered civil unrest. By this time, Edinburgh has become overpopulated, unsanitary and marked by strong social stratification.


An interim government ascended during the Jacobite rising of 1745 in Edinburgh, which was eventually overthrown and resulted to an episode of retaliations and local wars facilitated by conflicting clans. The local government in Edinburgh, however, endorsed its belief in the previous United Kingdom of Great Britain and wanted to mimic the progress of London.


Scottish Enlightenment occurred before the dawn of the 19th century. Edinburgh became a centre for intellectual learning. It was during this time that Scottish thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith dominated the academic world. This was also the time when the New Town in Edinburgh emerged which was the preferred residence of the professional and business classes. The Old Town of Edinburgh was left to the masses.


The deterioration of the Old Town continued during the Industrial Age. While the city had its own share of urban progress with the opening of commercial and shopping districts and establishment of the railways, the Scottish town of Glasglow has overtaken the city in terms of economic progress. This economic sluggishness was sustained during the First and Second World Wars. It was only in the 1960s to 70s that development started to become more conspicuous which was led by the transformation of the George Square and Potterrow.


By the 1990s, Edinburgh underwent fast growth and development marked by the emergence of a new financial district and the downfall of industrial and brewery buildings. Edinburgh became the second largest financial and administrative centre in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh Park was also developed as a business and technology park which further revived the city's economic progress.


 A Scottish parliament and government seated in Edinburgh would later emerge.  The Scottish government is dedicated to managing Scottish affairs except for defence, taxation, and foreign affairs which remain under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

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​E​DINBURGH

​​What you need to know.

Places to See and Visit

As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is the centre of art of Scotland. It has multiple museums to see and visit such as the following.

​National Museum of Scotland

​This is one of the biggest museums in Scotland which came into existence through the merger of the new Museum of Scotland and Royal Scottish Museum. It has an extensive collection about the history and culture of Scotland. It also has a special national war museum which features exhibitions about 400 years of Scotland at war.

​Our Dynamic Earth

This is an earth science museum to help visitors better understand scientific theories such as Big Bang, plate tectonics and glaciation.

Museum of Edinburgh

Located in Huntly House on the Canongate, this is the place to go for people interested in learning about the history of Edinburgh.

Writers' Museum

​Located in Lady Stair’s House at the Lawnmarket, this museum is dedicated to three important Scottish writers namely-

Scottish National Zoological Park

​This is a foremost tourist attraction located on Corstorphine Hill. It provides visitors a glimpse of the different wildlife animals and

Surgeons' Hall Museum

One of the oldest museums in Scotland, this museum holds unique artefacts including collections from Charles Bell,

Shopping Places

​Edinburgh is also a popular destination for shopaholics. Among the shopping malls and stores, that can be found in the city included Louis Vuitton,

​E​DINBURGH

​​What you need to know.

Tourist Attractions

Edinburgh attracts millions of tourists from around the world annually. It is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland such as the following:

Edinburgh Castle

​This is the famous landmark of Scotland. Among its major features included the One O'clock Salute from Half Moon Battery, the Scottish National War Memorial, the Royal Palace’s Crown Jewels, and the Stone of Scone.

Calton Hill.

​Located on top of a hill, it will give visitors a picturesque view of the entire city. Visitors will also see the Nelson Monument, the National Monument, and the ‘Edinburgh’s disgrace acropolis.

​This is a popular place to go when you want to take a stroll in Edinburgh particularly along Stockbridge and Dean Village where you will be greeted with beautiful trees and multi-colored boats. There are also many original bars and restaurants to stay where you can eat and enjoy people.

The Great Gallery.

​This is a museum that will give you portraits of both fabled and real Scottish royalty. It will give you a glimpse of the luxury enjoyed by Scottish nobilities who shaped the history of Scotland.

Duddingston

​Take a nostalgic trip to this quaint old village to see a great perspective of the loch or eat and drink in the oldest Scottish pub still existing, The Sheep Heid Inn.

​The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

​This is the official Edinburgh residence of the Queen and the previous apartment of Mary Queen of Scots.

The Royal Mile

​Located between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, this is one of the most popular places to stroll in Edinburgh to see delightful townhouses, antique churches, and other historic landmarks.

​E​DINBURGH

​​What you need to know.

Festivities and Cultural Norms

Edinburgh is host to many cultural festivals that are annually celebrated and visited by many tourists across the world. Joining these festivities is one of the best ways to learn and understand the cultural norms of the Scots.

​​Known as the Fringe for short, this is the biggest and most famous arts festival in the world. It is a month-long celebration that features more than 50,000 performances. This made Edinburgh at the forefront when it comes to arts festivities.

​This is a casual street party in the Old Town's High Street which originated from Norse and Gaelic customs held every last day of the year before the New Year celebrations. This is the time to give gifts, dance, and party all night long in the streets.

​This is a yearly series of performances of music or display by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth, and international military bands. It is held at the Castle Esplanade for three weeks every August.

​Inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival, this is a spring fertility celebration in Carlton Hill which featured traditional rituals of the Scots to display their cultural spirit. Among them included the creation of need-fire from torches, white Women march, burning Phoenix and fire-twirling sprite, bonfire and the Reds.

​This book festival held in Charlotte Square every year is the largest in the world. It hosts a concerted burst of cultural and governmental symposia and discussions, as well as well-founded events program for children.

​Drug Overdose

in Scotland & Edinburgh​

​Drug Overdose in Scotland & Edinburgh: Crisis Point?

Scotland is on the verge of a serious drug crisis as the number of drug-related deaths has increased by 27% since 2017. This translates to 1,187 deaths in 2018 from 934 in 2017, which is more than double the death rate around five years ago or 527 in 2013.  Scotland’s fatality rate is three times greater than the whole of Britain. The alarming figure is also the highest drug-related death rate in Europe. It even surpasses that of America, whose drug problem was previously believed to be worst. Because of this, the Scottish government describes the situation to have reached a crisis point.


​Drug-related deaths in Scotland have consistently and gradually increased over the years since 1996 when the National Records of Scotland (NRS) started recording drug-related mortality in the country. Drug-related deaths have broken records annually ever since. The latest death rate in 2018 is the highest number so far. Scotland is fast becoming the drug death capital of the world and unless the government takes drastic measures to curb drug addiction, this number is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.

Scotland’s public health minister, Joe FitzPatrick, says “These figures are truly shocking and calls for innovative and new bold approaches to save people’s lives.”  He also appealed to the UK government for the formation of safer drug consumption rooms, which can help curtail the HIV outbreak in Glasgow and support healthcare professionals to more effectively treat people suffering from addiction.


Accidental poisoning is the top underlying cause of drug-related deaths. This accounts for 85% of the deaths of 1,017. This is followed by intentional self-poisoning which accounts for 59 deaths, which suggests that the use of drugs has also become a prevalent way to commit suicide. Drug abuse which includes acute intoxication is responsible for 45 deaths while the remaining 66 deaths are undetermined. No deaths were caused by assault by drugs which imply that the use of drugs is primarily perilous and life-threatening to the user.


​Opiates such as heroin, morphine, methadone or codeine are the top killing drugs in Scotland. It is responsible for 86% of drug-related deaths. The NRS notes that most of the victims who succumbed to drugs took a combination of more than one drug.  Street benzodiazepines such as etizolam which have swamped the UK market in recent years were associated with 57% of the deaths.


Moreover, half of the cases of death involved the use of new synthetic psychoactive drugs that mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as Benzo Fury, Pep pills, Raz, 5-IAI, Spice, Happy Caps, and Magic among many other brands. These drugs have been molecularly modified to evade anti-drug laws and are often readily available in the market especially online. Other drugs considered responsible for deaths included ecstasy and amphetamine.


​Around 47 percent of the deaths also involved methadone, commonly sold under the brand name, Dolophine, which is primarily used for maintenance therapy in opioid addiction and management of chronic pain. This prompted some politicians to call for an alternative to this medicine. However, some experts claim that such a move is barking at the wrong tree.

Zoe Carre, a senior policy researcher from Release, a national drug charity organization, says, “Methadone is misrepresented to cause these deaths. This medicine has been proven to have prevented premature death.” She emphasized the fact that the drug-related deaths involved a combination of one or more opioids, which implies that some patients are not being given optimal doses of methadone. This engenders the impression among patients that they will get better with less medication. It also produces the inadvertent result of performing self-medication with other drugs.


​David Liddell, the chief executive of the Scottish Drugs Forum, is also aware of the practice of sub-optimal dosing. He suggested the creation of a very strict model that will penalize people with diminished doses and for not showing up to scheduled appointments with their healthcare providers.


Males accounted for 72% of the drug-related deaths in 2018 or 860 deaths. This is two percent higher than the four-year average from 2014 to 2018. The largest number of deaths occurred between the ages of 35-44-year-olds which accounts for 37.2% of deaths or 442. This is followed by 45-54-year-olds where 345 died of drugs and 25-34-year-olds with 217 deaths. The figures show that the majority of the victims of drug deaths or 1,004 people are adults.

The figures also demonstrate the aging population of addicts which is considered to have a major contribution to the steady increase of drug-related deaths. Older addicts are more likely to refuse or reject treatment which is one challenge that health workers and rehabilitation centers face. Only 40 percent of people suffering from drug addiction is undergoing treatment. This excludes the larger number of addicts that are not coming out in the open.


The low number of people submitting to treatment is partly attributed to long waiting times and the inappropriate emphasis on abstinence which is the central idea of the government’s strategy called “Road to Recovery”. Some critics decry that the program fails to focus on harm reduction measures and fall short in addressing the new range of drugs on the market.


Moreover, drugs do not choose the age of their victims. There are 64 people between the ages of 15-24 who died of drugs. There is even 1 victim under the age of 14 and 118 people who died are over 55 years old.


Drug-related deaths are scattered across Scotland. However, Greater Glasgow & Clyde had the highest rate with 394 deaths or 33%. This is followed by Lothian which accounts for 12.8% or 152 deaths, Lanarkshire with 130 deaths and Tayside with 109 deaths. Meanwhile, the Western Isles, Shetland, and Orkney have the least number of drug-related deaths.


​In terms of council areas, Glasgow city accounts for the highest number of drug-related deaths with 280 deaths or 23% of the total. This is followed by the capital city of Edinburgh with 90 deaths or 8% of the total count. Other councils which generated a high number of drug-related fatality included Dundee city, Fife, North and South Lanarkshire and Aberdeen City.


With Glasgow leading the death toll on drugs, the city was chosen as the site for UK’s first heroin-assisted treatment center, which will be inaugurated later this year. The center’s principal program involves prescribing heroin to drug addicts whose previous treatment from methadone and buprenorphine has failed. Proponents of the program also hope that the center will encourage aging and difficult drug users to voluntarily seek help and treatment from health professionals. Some health experts openly showed support to the center and bid for similar clinical centers to be launched in all health board areas as soon as possible.

Health minister FitzPatrick added, “The tragic number of people who have lost their lives due to drugs requires us to treat the drug problem as a public health issue.” He further said that the health ministry is ready to take new and bold steps to save the lives of those who are most at risk. 


In a discourse with the Scottish Affairs Committee,  FitzPatrick reiterated the need for the UK government to prioritize the implementation of a series of public health-focused proposals such as the introduction of supervised drug consumption facilities and the decentralization of the Scottish parliament’s power to empower local authorities to act more effectively. He wants to ensure that the newly established National Drug Deaths Taskforce will be given sufficient authority to allow the voices of those whose families have experienced the dangers of drugs be heard. “I am determined to shape our services in every walk of life to prevent harm and reduce the appalling number of deaths. Our ultimate goal is to save lives,” he explains.

At the annual conference of the Scottish National Party in Aberdeen, Scotland held last October 13, 2019, the conference delegates have also unanimously called for the decriminalization of possession and consumption of controlled drugs in an attempt to deal with the drug crisis. Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has drawn attention to the ineffectiveness of the UK drug law for Scotland. “People are dying on our streets and the risk to the general public from discarded needles and transmission of bloodborne diseases is very real,” she said.


David Liddell of the Scottish Drugs Forum has earlier expressed his support to a policy of decriminalization. He explains that the covert use of drugs has prevented its victims from seeking information and help from treatment. The criminalization of addicts also stigmatizes people which damages their sense of self and identity, which in turn leads to their marginalization and more drug use.


Andrew Horne, the director of drug and alcohol charity Addaction, also concurred with the decriminalization of drug use. “People who develop problems with drugs need compassion and support, not punishment,” he explains.


 The decriminalization of drug use and the creation of safe drug consumption rooms are just steps to reach out to people who are suffering from drug addiction to seek proper help. However, the government should also be focused on the improvement of drug treatment facilities and care services to treat drug patients to help them get back to have normal lives and become productive citizens of society once again.

​Drug Overdose

in Scotland & Edinburgh​