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Summary Article: Shetland Islands from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Islands and unitary authority off the north coast of Scotland, 80 km/50 mi northeast of the Orkney Islands, an important centre of the North Sea oil industry, and the most northerly part of the UK.

Area 1,452 sq km/560 sq mi

TownsLerwick (administrative headquarters), on Mainland, largest of 12 inhabited islands

Physical the 100 islands are mostly bleak, hilly, and clad in moorland. The climate is moist, cool, and windy; in summer there is almost perpetual daylight, whilst winter days are very short. On clear winter nights, the aurora borealis (‘northern lights’) can frequently be seen in the sky

Industries processed fish, handknits from Fair Isle and Unst, herring fishing, salmon farming, cattle and sheep farming; large oil and gas fields west of Shetland; Europe's largest oil port is Sullom Voe, Mainland; production at Foinaven oilfield, the first to be developed in Atlantic waters; tourism

Population (2001) 22,000

History dialect derived from Norse, the islands having been a Norse dependency from the 9th century until 1472 when they were annexed by Scotland

Economy A buoyant mixed economy which had prospered with the development of the North Sea oil industry. Traditional sectors still play an important part in the economy.

Archaeology Shetland is rich in archaeological sites, the best known of which are Jarlshof, Mousa, and Clickhimin Broch. Clickhimin Broch forms an island at the end of a causeway near Lerwick and was inhabited from c. 6 BC to AD 5. At Mousa, the Picts successfully sought refuge from Roman slave hunters. The settlement site at Jarlshof dates from the Bronze Age.

Environment In 1993 the Braer ran aground on Shetland spilling 85,000 tonnes of oil. By February 1994, 50,000 birds, mostly guillemots and other fish-eating species, were washed up around the Islands. They appeared to have starved to death. There are 78 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves, nine Special Protection Areas, and one National Scenic Area.

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Shetland Islands

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