What Scottish independence could mean for geography nerds everywhere

A teacher, from the village school in Patrington, Yorkshire in 1930
A teacher, from the village school in Patrington, Yorkshire in 1930

Should Scotland choose to claim independence from the United Kingdom, the world will have its newest country since South Sudan broke away from its northern neighbour in 2011.

Although it will take a couple of years for the new state to be established following a Yes vote, how would an independent Scotland compare to other countries around the world, and what does it mean for the ranking of the rest of the United Kingdom (or, er, dis-United Kingdom, or Great Britain, or is it United Kingdom of England, Wales and Nor.. oh we give up)?


With a population of approximately 5.32m, an independent Scotland would rank in at a heady 117th on the world list - nestling in between Singapore (5.39m) and Turkmenistan (5.31m).

The rest of the UK would be knocked down one spot in the rankings - from its current position of 22nd (64.1m as UK), to be usurped by Italy (60.76m).


In terms of land mass, Scotland (at 78,770 km2) would be 118th in the world - just below the Czech Republic, but above Panama.

Compared to its current area, the UK would lose nearly one third of its size. From 242,900 km2 down to 164,130 km2 - a drop in global rankings from 80th to 92nd - or one place above Suriname (above).

GDP (per capita)

Recent figures from the Scottish Government suggested an independent Scotland would become the 14th richest nation in the world - according to GDP per capita ($39,642 or £24,250).

Although Better Together campaigners have questioned these figures, that GDP per capita rate would rank Scotland above economic powerhouses such as France ($36,933), Japan ($35,482), and the rest of the UK ($35,671).

Life expectancy

Scotland's life expectancy is now at its highest ever - 78.6 years - that would place it at 42nd on the global league table - above Kuwait (78.2) and the Czech Republic (78), but below the likes of Cuba (79.4) and the United Arab Emirates (79.2).

The rest of the UK is currently at 81 years - in 28th place.

Land borders

If Scotland goes independent, it will have one international land border - with the UK. It will also mean Britain and its territories will gain its fourth (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Spain which shares a border with Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory and Cyprus, which shares a border with Akrotiri and Dhekelia).

Although still some way short of the mighty Germany and Democratic Republic of Congo who have nine apiece.

Map: All the countries that have gained independence from the UK

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