WITH its crystal clear rivers, snow-capped mountain peaks and world-beating beaches, it is little wonder Scotland attracts millions of visitors every year.
But now a major study has revealed that Scotland is the best country in the UK in which to live - and the population's welcoming attitude has been credited with clinching the accolade.
The findings have been revealed in a quality of life study by the European Commission based on 50 indicators including murder rates, tolerance attitudes, employment rates, personal rights and health history.
It lays bare the strengths and weaknesses of 272 European regions ranking each by their "social progress" and it forms "roadmap" for leaders and members of the public on which aspects need to be improved.
The report - dubbed the Social Progress Index - found that Scots exhibit high levels of tolerance towards minorities, homosexuals and disabled people.
It is the latest title to be bestowed upon Scotland and comes after Orkney and Shetland were named as best UK regions to raise children.
Edinburgh's Stockbridge has previously been rated as the top place to live north of the Border.
Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, which spearheaded the research, praised Scotland's overall performance but warned that Brexit threatens to inhibit social progress.
"It is very interesting that Scotland scores particularly well and Scotland is very strong in those ‘softer’ aspects, the tolerance and inclusion and freedom of speech," he said.
“You have to say that Brexit does pose a threat [to social progress] in a number of ways.
“One is the impact in and around public services and then changes in public attitudes that are less positive towards inclusion could cause a decline in social progress.”
But he said Prime ministers, presidents and member of the public should pay heed to rankings on the chart.
“For citizens you can ask ‘are we getting what we want’ and asking politicians ‘are you doing what we want?’”
Scotland lagged behind some of its UK rivals when it came to broadband speeds and was the worst performing region for looking after their personal safety.
In Eastern Scotland, pregnancy and youth unemployment were deemed to be weaknesses while environmental care was rated strongly.
The countries comprising the European some of the top ten in terms of social progress include: Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, with the lowest performing regions in either Romania or Bulgaria.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The findings of this study come as no surprise.
"While there remains more to do, since 2007 we know that recorded crime has fallen to a 42 year low, young people are more likely to be in learning, training or work, people are living longer and remaining healthier for longer, and we’re living in a more equal society with the proportion of individuals living in relative poverty having fallen, and the gender pay gap has decreased considerably.”
The EC Regional and Urban Policy Directorate, Orkestra, and the Social Progress Imperative report "confirms Scotland’s place as a fantastic place to live and work", said a Scottish Conservatives spokesman, who added: "However, there are a couple of aspects where we lag, such as access to broadband and personal safety, and that has to be a focus for the Scottish Government.”
This artivle was taken from the Glasgow Herald 11th October 2016