Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000 (1 million in the city region), Edinburgh fizzes with a cosmopolitan yet uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Old volcanoes ensure a dramatic natural setting, with the imposing castle atop one. Beneath its guard, the city combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. Medieval palaces, Gothic churches and fascinating historical buildings rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, such as the Houses of Scottish Parliament and the refurbished National Museum of Scotland.Variously dubbed "Auld Reekie" or "Athens of the North", but usually just plain "Emmbruh", it hosts great restaurants, shops, pubs, wild and mild clubs, and an unrivalled programme of city festivals throughout the year. Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, kicks off the festivities; August sees the Tattoo, the International Festival and the Festival Fringe – the world's largest arts festival.
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. In 2004, Edinburgh became the first member of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was designated a City of Literature.