The history of Scotland begins around 10,001 years ago, when humans first began to inhabit Scotland after the end of the Devensian glaciation, the last ice age. Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilization that existed in the country, many antiquities remain, but few if any written records were left behind.
The written history of Scotland largely begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. To the north was territory not governed by the Romans — Caledonia, by name. Its people were the Picts. From a classical historical viewpoint Scotland seemed a peripheral country, slow to gain advances filtering out from the Mediterranean fount of civilisation, but as knowledge of the past increases it has become apparent that some developments were earlier and more advanced than previously thought, and that the seaways were very important to Scottish history.
Because of the geographical orientation of Scotland and its strong reliance on trade routes by sea, the nation held close links in the south and east with the Baltic countries, and through Ireland with France and the continent of Europe. Following the Act of Union and the subsequent Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute, but in recent decades the country has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fuelled in part by a resurgent financial services sector, the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas, and latterly a devolved parliament.