Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye,[9] or simply Skye (/sk/; Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò; Scots: Isle o Skye), is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.[Note 1] The island's peninsulas radiate from a mountainous hub dominated by the Cuillin, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country.[11][12] Although Sgitheanach has been suggested to describe a winged shape, no definitive agreement exists as to the name's origins.

Isle of Skye
Scottish Gaelic nameAn t-Eilean Sgitheanach[1]
Pronunciation[əɲ ˈtʲʰelan ˈs̪kʲi.anəx] (listen)
Scots nameIsle o Skye[2]
Old Norse nameSkíð
Meaning of nameEtymology unclear
Bank Street, Portree
Bank Street, Portree
Isle of Skye is located in Scotland
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye shown within Scotland
OS grid referenceNG452319
Coordinates57.307°N 6.230°W / 57.307; -6.230
Physical geography
Island groupSkye
Area1,656 km2 (639 sq mi)[3]
Area rank2[4][5]
Highest elevationSgùrr Alasdair, 993 m (3,258 ft)[6]
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaHighland
Population rank4[7][5]
Population density6.04/km2 (15.6/sq mi)[3][7]
Largest settlementPortree

The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and over its history has been occupied at various times by Celtic tribes including the Picts and the Gaels, Scandinavian Vikings, and most notably the powerful integrated Norse-Gaels clans of MacLeod and MacDonald. The island was considered to be under Norwegian suzerainty until the 1266 Treaty of Perth, which transferred control over to Scotland.

The 18th-century Jacobite risings led to the breaking-up of the clan system and later clearances that replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. Skye's population increased by 4% between 1991 and 2001.[13] About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001, and although their numbers are in decline, this aspect of island culture remains important.[14]

The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing, and forestry. Skye is part of the Highland Council local government area. The island's largest settlement is Portree, which is also its capital,[15] known for its picturesque harbour.[16] Links to various nearby islands by ferry are available, and since 1995, to the mainland by a road bridge. The climate is mild, wet, and windy. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, red deer, and Atlantic salmon. The local flora is dominated by heather moor, and nationally important invertebrate populations live on the surrounding sea bed. Skye has provided the locations for various novels and feature films and is celebrated in poetry and song.

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