Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland is situated on Scotland's East Coast on the south side of the Firth Of Forth. Home of the Scottish parliament, Edinburgh is enriched with culture, fine architecture and hosts of one of the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom, The University of Edinburgh. The most well known attractions are Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, the Holyrood Palace and The National Gallery of Scotland. With a population of 435,790 in 2005, Edinburgh is Scotland's second largest city after Glasgow.
The historical centre of Edinburgh is divided into two parts by the Gardens of Princes Street. These gardens were originally marshlands, and can still be seen as such on earlier paintings of the city. To the south of these gardens is the old city, dominated by the world famous Edinburgh castle, situated on an extinct volcano. The castle looks down on the shopping district of the city, Princes Street, the beginning of the Royal Mile. To the north of the gardens is the New city where you will find modern architecture such as the Scottish parliament buildings and The National Gallery of Scotland. To the west of the castle is the financial district, where the banks and insurance companies fuel the hub of Edinburgh's economy. The West of the city is also home to Edinburgh Zoo.
Each summer, the city comes alive with one of the world's largest festivals, the Edinburgh Festival. The three week long event held in August is enjoyed by nearly a million people each year and boasts of wealth of cultural delights including art, theatre, opera, music and dance as well as the traditional Military Tattoo. The cities streets are filled again for the world famous street party, Hogmanay. These New Year's celebrations in Edinburgh take place from December 31 until January 2.
Tourism is a major industry in Edinburgh. The cities popularity grows each year and is now the most popular destination of tourists visiting Scotland and second only to London of tourists visiting the United Kingdom. The city has always been prosperous but its popularity and status has increased since the Scottish Parliament was established in the city in 1999. Edinburgh an important commercial centre and has improved its financial status through decentralisation, which has increased the number of government services in the city and attracted businesses to Edinburgh. The key industries are tourism, financial services, education and high-tech research. Modern industries such as information technology will also impact positively on its future growth. The city is a centre of the law and learning and only 3.4% of the 450,000 inhabitants are unemployed.
Edinburgh has three museums of great importance. The National Gallery of Scotland houses impressive sculptures and European paintings containing the works of artists such as Gauguin, CÚzanne, Monet and Velazquez. The modern Museum of Scotland is devoted to the history, the people and the culture of Scotland. The Royal Museum of Scotland specialises in geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology and art. The museum holds particular interest to those fascinated by genetics, as it is the home if the sheep 'Dolly', the first mammal clone in the world.
The city is home to the National Library of Scotland, and is not only one of the most important libraries in Scotland, but one of largest in the United Kingdom.
Two football clubs play in the highest Scottish league, the rivaling Hibernian FC and Hearts Of Midlothian. Edinburgh is also home to the Murrayfield stadium, the national Rugby stadium of Scotland.