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Fife

Fife is a county and council area of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire. It was originally one of the Pictish kingdoms, known as Fib, and is still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife within Scotland.

It is a lieutenancy area, and was a county of Scotland until 1975. It was very occasionally known by the anglification Fifeshire in old documents and maps compiled by English cartographers and authors. A person from Fife is known as a Fifer.

Fife was a local government region divided into three districts - Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-East Fife. Since 1996 the functions of the district councils have been exercised by the unitary Fife Council.

Fife is Scotland's third largest local authority area by population. It has a resident population of just under 360,000, almost a third of whom live in the three principal towns of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. Kirkcaldy has Fife's largest population (48,108 in 2006).The historic town of St Andrews is located on the east coast of Fife. It is well known for one of the most ancient universities in Europe, and as the home of golf.

History

Legend has it that upon the death of Cruithne, the Pictish realm - known collectively as "Pictavia" - was divided into seven sub-kingdoms or provinces, one of which became Fife. The name is recorded as Fib in A.D. 1150 and Fif in 1165. It was often associated with Fothriff.Fife, bounded to the north by the Firth of Tay and to the south by the Firth of Forth, is a natural peninsula whose political boundaries have changed little over the ages.

King James VI of Scotland described Fife as a "beggar's mantle fringed with gold" - the golden fringe being the coast and its chain of little ports with their thriving fishing fleets and rich trading links with the Low Countries, ironic given the much later development of farming on some of Scotland's richest soil and the minerals, notably coal, underneath. Wool, linen, coal and salt were all traded. Salt pans heated by local coal were a feature of the Fife coast in the past. The distinctive red clay "pan tiles" seen on many old buildings in Fife arrived as ballast on trading boats and replaced the previously thatched roofs.

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