With 787 islands belonging to the country of Scotland, it's no wonder that the Scottish isles have been categorized into four main groups. Spread all around Scotland, the islands are all quite small, with only 62 being larger than three square miles.
Also known as Long Island, the Outer Hebrides, located 40 miles off the northwest coast of the mainland, is a 130-mile-long chain of islands. The Outer Hebrides contain 119 islands, with the five most populated being Lewis and Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra. The occupants of the Outer Hebrides have managed to maintain a traditional highland way of life, with their main industries being crofting, fishing and weaving.
The Inner Hebrides are located off the western coast of Scotland, and they stretch for 150 miles. The largest islands are Skye, Mull, Jura and Islay. Mull is the most accessible of the islands and the most often frequented by tourists. The island of Rhum was acquired by the National Conservancy in 1957 and became a nature reserve dedicated to botanical and geological research.
The Orkney Islands are located off the northern tip of Scotland, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. Consisting of approximately 70 individual islands, the Orkneys cover an area of 376 square miles. The principal island is referred to as "the Mainland" and is one of the approximately 19 islands with habitants. The Orkney Islands have a great deal of well-preserved history, including houses and tombs that date back 5,000 years.
The Shetland Islands, farther north than the Orkney Islands, consist of over 100 isles, most of which are completely treeless as a result of their wind-ravaged location in the North Sea. Lerwick, the capital of the Shetlands, is basically the only inhabited area, and it is often full of tourists year-round. Moving out from Lerwick, you will be hard-pressed to find much civilization. Don't let the desolation scare you away, though. Lonely Planet named the Shetland Islands one of its "Top 10 Regions for 2011."
- Scotland Travel Expert: Scottish Islands - List of Islands of Scotland
- School of Geosciences: Scotland: Gateway to Scotland
- Lonely Planet: Outer Hebrides Travel Information and Travel Guide---Scotland
- Orkneyjar: The Heritage of the Orkney Islands
- Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet's Top 10 Regions for 2011
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Scottish Isles Cruises
Scottish Isles Cruises. With more than 700 islands, the quaint country of Scotland makes for an ideal cruise destination. Scottish Isles cruises...