United Kingdom: Fife

Fife (/faɪf/; Scottish Gaelic: Fìobha) is a council area and historic county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire. By custom it is widely held to have been one of the major Pictish kingdoms, known as Fib, and is still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife within Scotland. Fife is one of the six local authorities part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region.

It is a lieutenancy area, and was a county of Scotland until 1975. It was very occasionally known by the anglicisation Fifeshire in old documents and maps compiled by English cartographers and authors. A person from Fife is known as a Fifer.

Fife was a local government region divided into three districts: Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-East Fife. Since 1996 the functions of the district councils have been exercised by the unitary Fife Council.

Fife is Scotland's third largest local authority area by population. It has a resident population of just under 367,000, over a third of whom live in the three principal towns of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.

The historic town of St Andrews is located on the northeast coast of Fife. It is well known for the University of St Andrews, one of the most ancient universities in the world and is renowned as the home of golf.

Fife became a centre of heavy industry in the 19th century. Coal had been mined in the area since at least the 12th century, but the number of pits increased ten-fold as demand for coal grew in the Victorian period. Previously rural villages such as Cowdenbeath rapidly swelled into towns as thousands moved to Fife to find work in its mines. The opening of the Forth and Tay rail bridges linked Fife with Dundee and Edinburgh and allowed the rapid transport of goods. Modern ports were constructed at Methil, Burntisland and Rosyth. Kirkcaldy became the world centre for the production of linoleum. Postwar Fife saw the development of Scotland's second new town, Glenrothes. Originally to be based around a coal mine, the town eventually attracted a high number of modern Silicon Glen companies to the region. Fife Council and Fife Constabulary also centre their operations in Glenrothes.

There are numerous notable historical buildings in Fife, some of which are managed by the National Trust for Scotland or Historic Scotland. They include Dunfermline Abbey (the last resting place of Scottish royalty), the palace in Culross, Ravenscraig Castle in Kirkcaldy, Dysart Harbour area, Balgonie Castle near Coaltown of Balgonie, Falkland Palace (hunting palace of the Scottish Kings), Kellie Castle near Pittenweem, Hill of Tarvit (a historical house), St. Andrews Castle, St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Rule's Tower.

North of the Lomond Hills can be found villages and small towns in a primarily agricultural landscape. The areas in the south and west of Fife, including the towns of Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and the Levenmouth region are lightly industrial and more densely populated. The only areas which could claim to be heavily industrial are Rosyth, around the naval dockyard and perhaps the Mossmorran Natural Gas Liquids fractionation plant on the outskirts of Cowdenbeath.

The east corner of Fife, generally that east of a line between Leven and St Andrews is recognised throughout Scotland as the East Neuk (or corner) of Fife, small settlements around sheltered harbours, with distinctive vernacular "Dutch" or corbie (crow) stepped gabled and stone-built architecture – an area much sought after as second homes of the Edinburgh professional classes since the Forth Road Bridge was built . The fishing industry on which the East Neuk settlements were built has declined in recent years with the main fishing fleet now operating from Pittenweem and the harbour in Anstruther being used as a marina for pleasure craft.

St Andrews in Fife is the home of golf, being the town in which the sport was invented , and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club still has responsibility for overseeing the rules of the game today.

Fife has four senior football clubs: Cowdenbeath, Raith Rovers, Dunfermline Athletic and East Fife.

Fife Flyers are the UK's oldest ice hockey club and play in Britain's top flight, the Elite Ice Hockey League.

Fife is also home to eight rugby union clubs. Dunfermline RFC, Fife Southern RFC based in Rosyth, Glenrothes RFC, Howe of Fife RFC based in Cupar, Kirkcaldy RFC, Madras RFC, Waid Academy RFC and University of St Andrews RFC - the oldest rugby club in Fife. Fife Lions are the sole rugby league club.

Kingdom Kangaroos are Fife's only Australian Rules Football team, with training held in Rosyth and Kirkcaldy.

Aberdour Shinty Club have two men's teams, two women's teams and multiple youth squads.

The climate of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable. As it is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, it has much milder winters (but cooler, wetter summers) than areas on similar latitudes, such as Labrador, southern Scandinavia, the Moscow region in Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite side of Eurasia. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on 11 February 1895. Winter maxima average 6 °C (43 °F) in the Lowlands, with summer maxima averaging 18 °C (64 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9 °C (91.2 °F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003.

The west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the influence of Atlantic ocean currents and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest places in the country: it had more than 300 hours of sunshine in May 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest, with annual rainfall in a few places exceeding 3,000 mm (120 in). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 in) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar has an average of 59 snow days per year, while many coastal areas average fewer than 10 days of lying snow per year.

The head of state of the United Kingdom is the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). The regnal numbering ("Elizabeth II") caused controversy around the time of her coronation because there had never been an Elizabeth I in Scotland. The British government stated in April 1953 that future British monarchs would be numbered according to either their English or their Scottish predecessors, whichever number would be higher. For instance, any future King James would be styled James VIII—since the last Scottish King James was James VII (also James II of England, etc.)—while the next King Henry would be King Henry IX throughout the UK even though there have been no Scottish kings of that name. A legal action, MacCormick v Lord Advocate (1953 SC 396), was brought in Scotland to contest the right of the Queen to entitle herself "Elizabeth II" within Scotland, but the Crown won the case.

During the G8 Summit in 2005, then First Minister Jack McConnell welcomed each head of government of the G8 nations to the countries Glasgow Prestwick Airport on behalf of then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the same time, McConnell and the then Scottish Executive pioneered the way forward to launch what would become the Scotland Malawi Partnership which co-ordinates Scottish activities to strengthen existing links with Malawi. During McConnell's time as First Minister, several relations with Scotland, including Scottish and Russian relations strengthened following a visit by President of Russia Vladimir Putin to Edinburgh. McConnell, speaking at the end, highlighted that the visit by Putin was a "post-devolution" step towards "Scotland regaining it's international identity".

Under the Salmond administration, Scotland's trade and investment deals with countries such as China and Canada, where Salmond established the Canada Plan 2010–2015 which aimed to strengthen "the important historical, cultural and economic links" between both Canada and Scotland. To promote Scotland's interests and Scottish businesses in North America, there is a Scottish Affairs Office located in Washington, D.C. with the aim to promoting Scotland in both the United States and Canada.

During a 2017 visit to the United States, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with Jerry Brown, Governor of California, where both signed an agreement committing both the Government of California and the Scottish Government to work together to tackle climate change, as well as Sturgeon signing a £6.3 million deal for Scottish investment from American businesses and firms promoting trade, tourism and innovation. During an official visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2016, Sturgeon claimed that is it "important for Ireland and Scotland and the whole of the British Isles that Ireland has a strong ally in Scotland". During the same engagement, Sturgeon became the first head of government to address the Seanad Éireann, the Upper House of the Irish Parliament.

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