(The Western Isles)
|- Total||3,071 km²|
|- % Water||?|
|- Total (2006)||26,400|
|- Density||9 / km²|
|Comhairle nan Eilean Siar|
The Outer Hebrides, often called the Western Isles, make up an island chain off the west coast of Scotland. It is also a parliamentary constituency. The northern island is Lewis and Harris. South of Lewis and Harris is a series of islands, such as South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist. The Outer Herides includes a number of even smaller islands.
Formerly the dominant language of the Islands, Scottish Gaelic remains spoken even though it has now been largely supplanted by English in some parts.
The Western Isles became 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 clan chiefs.
Geology & geography
Most of the islands have a bedrock formed from ancient metamorphic rocks and the climate is mild and oceanic. The Gulf Stream runs nearby. The 15 inhabited islands have a total population of about 26,500 and there are more than 50 substantial uninhabited islands.
Flora and fauna
Much of the archipelago is a protected habitat including both the islands and the surrounding waters. There are 53 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of which the largest are Loch an Duin, North Uist at 15,100 hectares (37,000 acres) and North Harris, which is 12,700 hectares (31,000 acres) in extent.
Loch Druidibeg on South Uist is a National Nature Reserve owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. The reserve covers 1,677 hectares across the whole range of local habitats.
Images for kids
Nicolson's Leap on the east coast of South Uist. In the background are Beinn Mhòr at left, and Hecla on the right.
Lews Castle, Stornoway
Geological map of the Hebridean Terrane
Kisimul Castle, the ancient seat of Clan MacNeil, Castlebay, Barra
Sir Edward Scott Secondary School, Tarbert, Isle of Harris
Outer Hebrides Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.