Economic and cultural impact of Scots

Reasons for the success of Scottish immigrants

  • They had a very strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • They adapted well to the harsher climates.
  • They formed their own communities and helped each other.
  • Scottish farmers could use their skills and knowledge to improve their farms.
  • Those skilled tradesmen who settled had exactly the skills needed to match the economic needs of the new countries.
  • Scots who had experience in commerce, trade, banking and industry could take full advantage of the new business opportunities in the new lands.
  • Professionals (doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, accountants and architects) often found their skills were in great demand.

Cultural impact of Scots

Scottish place names were given to the areas where the Scots settled. Examples of this are Perth in Australia and Nova Scotia (New Scotland) in Canada. New Zealand place names such as Oban, Invercargill, Lumsden, Glenorchy, Gillespie's Point, Stewart Island and Lake Benmore, show Scots influence.

In every country where Scots settled they set up Caledonian Societies to celebrate their Scottish heritage. They founded pipe bands, wore Highland dress, held Highland Games and set up Burns Clubs.

Scots communities founded golf clubs such as St Andrew's Golf Club in New York in 1888.

Important events in the Scottish calendar are still commemorated in many countries where Scottish emigrants went, such as St Andrew’s Day, Burn’s Night and New Year.

Economic impact of Scots


In Australia and New Zealand, Scots were instrumental in building farmsteads and introducing sheep-farming. This led to large amounts of wool and meat being transported back to Great Britain by boat.

William Davidson was the first Scot to send frozen meat back from New Zealand in 1882.


Many Scots became involved in gold mining and worked as prospectors in the USA, Australia and South Africa. Many of these Scots lived in temporary accommodation or tents as they searched for their fortune. Others became involved in coal and silver mining.


Australia and Tasmania were used as prison colonies before 1868. They were controlled by a governor and a body of troops. This provided much needed free labour as convicts worked for the duration of their sentence.

They were either put to work by the governor or ordered to work for settlers. They would have been involved in clearing land, building roads and constructing settlements.