With almost 800 islands and archipelagos, Scotland comprises the northern one-third of the island of Great Britain, with England lying to the south. Scotland's land border with England runs for 96km (60 miles) from the Solway Firth in the west to the North Sea in the east.

The southwesterly winds off the Atlantic Ocean bring heavy rainfall and violent squalls in the winter. In summer, the winds are more westerly, but, even so, Scotland experiences cool weather and frequent rainfall.

The diverse terrain of Scotland is riddled with rivers and lakes. Lakes, known as lochs, are the most striking feature of the landscape. The largest of these is the celebrated Loch Lomond, measuring some 70 square km (27 sq. miles). Major rivers are the Spey, the Dee, the Tay, the Forth, and the Tweed. The Clyde flows into the Atlantic.

The Highlands comprise the entire northwest of Scotland, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak, climbing to 1,343m (4,406 ft.). A marked feature is a series of glens or valleys, running from the northwest to the southeast. The most famous of these is the Great Glen, or Glen More. The best-known lake in this area is Loch Ness, which annually attracts thousands of visitors hoping to get a glimpse of the famous Loch Ness Monster.

In contrast to the Highlands are the Central Lowlands. South of the Grampian Mountains, the Lowlands stretch from northeast to southwest, and are riddled with estuaries, notably the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.

The Southern Uplands make a continuous "belt," from Galloway, in the west, to Berwickshire, in the east. Reaching a height of only 842m (2,762 ft.), these mountains are much lower than the Highlands. The Tweed River basin divides the region. To the southeast lie the Cheviot Hills. Passing across the Cheviot moorland is the border between England and Scotland.

Most of Scotland's islands lie off the northern and western coast. These archipelagos are divided into three main groups, including the Hebrides (both Inner and Outer), the Shetlands, and the Orkney Islands. The most visited are in the Inner Hebrides, Skye and Mull. In all, the Hebrides contain about 500 islands, the Orkneys consisting of only 90.

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