The capital of Scotland, is an ancient settlement, archaeological evidence pushing its history back over 4,000 years. A fine defensive site, the growth of the city stretched from the castle to Canongate and the abbey of Holyrood. The ‘Old Town’ by 1700 was teeming with people, its population huddled in great tenements. The building of a ‘New Town’ across the deep troughs was a consequence of further population growth. The wealthy were the first to move into a neoclassical grid‐square suburb with wide streets and magnificent Georgian houses. Linked by bridges (1772–1857), the ‘New Town’ became a major shopping area. In 2004 the city's population numbered 453,000.
Employment in the 21st cent. is increasingly dominated by the service sector. Scottish banks, investment trusts, building societies, and insurance companies provide jobs in financial services; the supreme courts of Scotland—the Court of Session (1532) and the High Court of Justiciary—are located in the Old Parliament House (1640); the universities (including Heriot‐Watt (1964) and Napier (1992), the merchant company, and private and public schools serve a wide constituency. As the capital, Edinburgh is the administrative centre of Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament has met there since 1999. Since the 1950s leisure and tourism have become major civic industries, the International Festival being a particular attraction.