Unitary authority in northern Scotland, created from the region bearing the same name in 1996.
Area 26,157 sq km/10,100 sq mi (one-third of Scotland)
TownsInverness (administrative headquarters), Thurso, Wick, Fort William, Aviemore
Physical mainland Highland consists of a series of glaciated ancient plateau masses dissected by narrow glens and straths (valleys); in the northeast (Caithness), old red sandstone rocks give a softer, lower topography; Ben Nevis (1,343 m/4,406 ft), Cairngorm Mountains; Loch Ness; Cuillin Hills, Skye; includes many of the Inner Hebridean islands
Features Caledonian Canal; John O'Groats; Forth Road Bridge to Skye
Industries winter sports, timber, aluminium smelting, pulp and paper production, whisky distilling, cottage and croft industries
Agriculture salmon fishing, sheep farming, grouse and deer hunting
Population (2001) 208,900
History location of many key historical moments in Scottish history, including the ‘massacre’ of Glencoe in 1692 and the Battle of Culloden in 1745–6
Language Gaelic is spoken by 7.5% of the population.
Economy Highland is a predominantly rural area comprising of land that is agriculturally marginal, much of which is not amenable to crops or forestry. Subsistence economies in the form of crofting still characterize the least accessible parts of the area. More accessible parts are exploiting their tourist potential and the opportunities afforded by mountain sports, for example, Aviemore and Fort William. Traditional industries, such as whisky distilling and crafts, are sustained by the tourist industry.
Environment There are many Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Ramsars (wetland sites), Special Protection Areas, Biosphere Reserves, and National Scenic Areas.
Administrative history Prior to 1975, this area was part of the five counties of Caithness-shire, Sutherlandshire, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness-shire, and Nairnshire.
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