First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Mr Mandela's integrity, humanity and compassion were an inspiration to countless millions around the globe, and his influence transcended ideology, race and creed.
"He was also someone who had a longstanding commitment to and friendship with Scotland, and I had the privilege of meeting him once. Those links with Scotland were underlined by his being granted the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in 1981 when he was still imprisoned - the first city in the world to do so.
"The world is a poorer place for his passing, and our thoughts are with Mr Mandela's family and the people of South Africa."
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter to say: "A light has just gone out in the world. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela."
Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: "Nelson Mandela was the greatest leader of our generation. A leader of magnanimity, fortitude, unshakeable optimism and most of all, the most courageous man I ever met.
"True courage requires not only strength of will but strength of belief. What motivated Nelson Mandela and drove him to risk his life for freedom was a burning passion that irrespective of colour, race and background, all people are created equal - and his list of historic achievements starts with a multiracial South Africa."
Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont said: "Nelson Mandela is the towering figure of my life since I became politically aware. He fought injustice when there seemed to be no chance of victory. But he fought. He endured. And he won.
"And when Nelson Mandela won he struggled as hard for peace as he had to defeat apartheid.Nelson Mandela was the best of Africa - he was the best of humanity - he was the best of us all."
Glasgow's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty last night confirmed the City Chambers flag will fly at half mast in respect of the former president's passing. The Aberdeen city council banner will also fly at half mast from the Town House until after the funeral.
Mrs Docherty paid tribute to Mr Mandela as a "political and moral icon". She said: "The world has lost a true political and moral icon. Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to bringing freedom, justice and equality to the people of South Africa.
"His beliefs cost him years of his own freedom but his vision for peace and democracy prevailed. His legacy will live on and inspire generations to come.
"Glasgow was proud to be the first city in the world to honour him with a Freedom of the City award and he will be sadly missed by a city which had the greatest of respect for him."
A book of condolence, with the Lord Provost as the first signatory, will be available to sign in the city chambers foyer.
It will sit underneath a plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary of Glasgow awarding Mandela the Freedom of the City.
Mr Mandela was also awarded the Freedom of the City of Aberdeen. Its Lord Provost George Adam said: "There are not many people who could say they changed the world, but Nelson Mandela was one of them. Faced with the fiercest oppression, he refused to give up fighting for the most basic of human rights."
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the Archbishop of Glasgow and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, said: "I will remember Nelson Mandela not only for his courage and his ideals. Rather I will remember him for the great example he gave of the power of forgiveness.
"And from his forgiveness great hope grew."
The Right Reverend Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said: "Nelson Mandela was a towering figure of the 20th century whose strength, courage and determination are only matched by his grace and ability to forgive.
"He will forever be remembered not only for the end of apartheid in South Africa but the manner in which the change was accomplished.
"Emerging from prison after 27 years in Robben Island, without bitterness or a call for revenge, he led by example believing that the only hope for his country was the reconciliation of all people regardless of their colour or creed."