Inner Hebrides

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{island, water, area}
{land, century, early}
{language, word, form}
{war, force, army}
{son, year, death}
{area, part, region}
{church, century, christian}
{mi², represent, 1st}

The Inner Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan a-staigh) is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides. Together these two island chains form the Hebrides, which enjoy a mild oceanic climate. There are 36 inhabited islands and a further 43 uninhabited Inner Hebrides with an area greater than 30 hectares (74 acres). The main commercial activities are tourism, crofting, fishing, and whisky distilling. In modern times the Inner Hebrides have formed part of two separate local government jurisdictions, one to the north and the other to the south. Combined, the islands have an area of approximately 415,800 hectares (1,605 sq mi), and had a population of 18,257 people in 2001.[1] The population density is therefore a little over 4 persons per km2 (11 persons per square mile).

There are various important prehistoric structures, many of which pre-date the first written references to the islands by Roman and Greek authors. In the historic period the earliest known settlers were Picts to the north and Gaels in the southern kingdom of Dalriada prior to the islands becaming part of the Suðreyjar kingdom of the Norse, who ruled for over 400 years until sovereignty was transferred to Scotland by the Treaty of Perth in 1266. Control of the islands was then held by various clan chiefs, principal of whom were the MacLeods and MacDonalds. The Highland Clearances of the 19th century had a devastating effect on many communities and it is only in recent years that population levels have ceased to decline.

Sea transport is crucial and a variety of ferry services operate between the islands and to mainland Britain. The Gaelic language remains strong in some areas, the landscapes have inspired a variety of artists, and there is a diversity of wildlife.

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