"Scottish People" is a slightly awkward title, but in the end it was the only option that couldn't mean something else. "Scots" would have done, but that can mean the Scots language. On the other hand, "Scotch", when applied to people, is a word long out of use: you get "Scotch Whisky" or "Scotch Pies" or "Scotch Eggs", but in the modern world using "Scotch" to mean "Scottish People" has a perjorative edge, and should be avoided. Having got the definitions straight, we'll use "Scots" on the rest of this page.
Who are the Scots? A number of different groups are usually seen as qualifying: anyone born in Scotland who still considers themselves to be a Scot; anyone living in Scotland who identifies more closely with Scotland than with anywhere else they might have lived or were born; and anyone living anywhere else in the world who is descended from Scots and who considers themselves to be a Scot.
At the time of the 2011 Census there were some 5.3 million people living in Scotland, of whom about 90% considered themselves to be Scots. Additionally there are some 800,000 people who regard themselves as Scots living in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Scotland's often turbulent history and its long record of large scale emigration means there are far more people who consider themselves Scots outwith Scotland than within it. In the 2000 Census, 4.8 million US residents considered themselves Scots by ancestry. And another 4.3 million US residents considered themselves to be Scots-Irish, i.e. descended from Scots who settled in Ulster, perhaps for generations, before emigrating to the United States. This makes a total of around 9 million Scots in the United States: and some estimates suggest that a further 38 million US Citizens could consider themselves to be Scots or Scots-Irish, but don't (and so don't count as Scots under the definition set out above).
Meanwhile, 4.1 million Canadians reported Scottish ancestors in the 2001 Census. Scottish communities exist in France, Italy, Holland and Poland, and it has been estimated that up to 250,000 Russians are of Scottish descent. Further afield, 20% of the European settlers in New Zealand were from Scotland, as were many who went to Australia. And there are significant numbers of people descended from Scottish settlers living in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Overall there are probably around five times as many Scots living outside Scotland than within it.
Historically, the people who ended up living in Scotland were a pretty mixed bunch. If you take a snapshot in about AD 700, a fairly large part of the country was occupied by the Picts, while what is today Argyll was occupied by the Scots of Dalriada, probably immigrants from Ireland. Meanwhile the Angles of Northumbria, previously of Germanic origin, regularly made their presence felt in south east Scotland, and the south west of the country was in the possession of the Britons of the Kingdom of Strathclyde.
And if this were not a rich enough mix, the Vikings increasingly had a presence in north and west Scotland from about 800, first as raiders, then as settlers, then as an assimilated part of the native population. The final great wave came with the arrival of Norman-English who took influential roles in society from the 1100s onwards. In more recent centuries, settlers from a wide variety of backgrounds have settled in Scotland and become Scots. These include people from Ireland, France, England, Italy, Poland, India, Pakistan and many other places.
Linguistically, the Picts who drove the Romans from Hadrian's wall seemingly spoke a distinct Pictish language, possibly distantly related to Welsh. The Scots who settled in the west, and eventually came to dominate the Picts, spoke a form of Gaelic. The Angles of the south east spoke Northumbrian Old English which later became the Middle English known as Early Scots. The Britons of Strathclyde spoke Cumbric, also related to Welsh; while people in the Viking dominated areas spoke Norn, or Old Norse.
Over the 500 years until 1500, the Norse influence was largely displaced by the Gaelic-speaking Scots. Meanwhile, The Early Scots language slowly expanded its influence to become the most common language spoken in the Borders, the Central Lowlands, the coastal fringe of Aberdeenshire, Caithness and the Northern Isles. Everywhere else, including a large part of Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, spoke Scottish Gaelic. Over the 500 years since 1500, Scots has remained a commonly spoken language, but largely displaced by Scottish English, much more closely related to English, for the written word and by many in speech as well. Increasing use of Scots and Scottish English across Scotland forced Scottish Gaelic to steadily retreat west: sometimes as a result of deliberate Government policy, to the point that fewer and fewer people could speak it. In recent increasing efforts have been made to halt the decline in Gaelic, though in 2011 the figure for those who could speak it stood at 1.1% of the population, the lowest ever recorded, and down from 1.2% ten years earlier.
The last Gaelic-only speakers in Scotland were recorded in 1971, which means that as a visitor if you can speak English you'll have no problem being understood. But because Scots (the language) remains in spoken use by many Scots (the people), visitors can find that understanding what is said to them can be less straightforward than being understood: it can take a little time to "tune in" to what really does amount to a different, though related, language. An additional complication is that there are at least four different dialects of Scots in use in different parts of Scotland. One of them, "North East Scots" is sufficiently distinct for it to carry a separate name, "Doric".
The divide between Scots-speaking and Gaelic-speaking areas for a time also coincided with a much deeper divide, between the Highlands and the Lowlands. Traditionally, Lowland Scotland, especially after the Union of the Crowns in 1603, measured itself against the relative economic success of the English. At the same time it tended to upon Highlanders as, at best, second class citizens. The Jacobite uprisings of 1689 to 1746 made this tendency much worse. It was not until the early 1800s that symbols of the Highlands like tartan, kilts and bagpipes, some actually made illegal after 1746, were suddenly embraced by Lowland Scots as "Scottish". The concept of Highlands and Lowlands as being fundamentally different in culture and outlook has since ceased to be relevant: though be warned that if you hear a Scot living in the Central Belt talking about "The North" he or she could mean anywhere beyond Stirling.
And, finally, are Scots anti-English? The collective answer is a simple, straightforward, "no". Some individual Scots may be, but far more Scots are anti-Celtic or anti-Rangers than are anti-English. It is worth remembering that England and Scotland are siblings who spent 1,000 years of adolescence unable to get to get out of each other's company and fighting one another, literally, politically, economically and culturally. Many Scots have still to get over an instinctive tendency to support England's opponents in any international sporting fixture, but that's about as far as it goes. And the years since devolution have seen a corner turned, with a growing degree of confidence and maturity emerging across Scotland which means that for the first time in over a thousand years we tend not to feel ourselves to be anyone's poor neighbour. This was reflected in the closeness of the the result of the independence Referendum held in Scotland in September 2014.