Population: 44,000 (2008)
OS grid reference: NO115235
Council Area: Perth and Kinross
Lieutenancy Area: Perth and Kinross
Sovereign State: United Kingdom
Postcode District: PH1-PH3; PH14
Dialling code: 01738
EU Parliament: Scotland
UK Parliament: Perth and North Perthshire
Scottish Parliament: Perthshire North Perthshire South and Kinross-shire
Perth is a city in central Scotland, located on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county of Perthshire. According to the preliminary 2011 census results Perth, including its immediate suburbs, has a population of 50,000. Perth has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828. During the later medieval period the city was also called St John's Toun or Saint Johnstoun by its inhabitants in reference to the main church dedicated to St John the Baptist. This name is preserved by the city's football team, St. Johnstone F.C.
The name Perth comes from a Pictish word for wood or copse. There has been a settlement at Perth since prehistoric times, on a natural mound raised slightly above the flood plain of the Tay, where the river could be crossed at low tide. The area surrounding the modern city is known to have been occupied since Mesolithic hunter-gatherers arrived more than 8000 years ago. Nearby Neolithic standing stones and circles also exist, dating from about 4000 BC, following the introduction of farming in the area.
The presence of Scone Abbey, home of the Stone of Scone where the King of Scots was crowned, enhanced the early importance of the city. Perth became known as capital of Scotland, due to the frequent residence of the royal court. Royal Burgh status was soon given to the city by King William the Lion in the early 12th century. The city became one of the richest burghs in the country, doing trade with France, the Low Countries and Baltic Countries for goods such as Spanish silk and French wine.
The Scottish Reformation also played a big role in the city with the sacking of the Houses of the Greyfriars and Blackfriars, after a sermon given by John Knox in St John's Kirk in 1559. The Act of Settlement later brought about Jacobite uprisings. The city was occupied by Jacobite supporters on three occasions (1689, 1715 and 1745). The founding of Perth Academy in 1760 helped to bring major industries, such as linen, leather, bleach and whisky, to the city. Given its location, Perth was perfectly placed to become a key transport centre with the coming of the railways, and its first station was built in 1848.
Today, Perth serves as a retail centre for the surrounding area. Following the decline of the whisky industry locally, the city's economy has now diversified to include insurance and banking. Due to its location, the city is often referred to as the 'Gateway to the Highlands'.
The name Perth derives from a Pictish word for wood or copse, and links the town to the Picts described by the Romans, who subsequently joined with the Scots to form the kingdom of Alba which later became known as Scotland. During much of the medieval period the town was known colloquially as "St. John's Toun" or "Saint Johnstoun" because the church at the centre of the parish was dedicated to St. John the Baptist.<ref>Graham-Campbell Perth: The Fair City 1994, 2</ref>
Perth's Pictish name, and some archaeological evidence, indicate that there must have been a settlement here from earlier times, probably at a point where a river crossing or crossings coincided with a slightly raised natural mound on the west bank of the Tay (which at Perth flows north-south), thus giving some protection for settlement from the frequent flooding.