The Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago that lies northeast of the island of Great Britain and forms part of Scotland, United Kingdom. Shetland has located around 160 km (100 miles) north of the Scottish mainland. They form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east.
The largest island, known as the “Mainland”, has an area of 967 km2 (373 sq mi), making it the third-largest Scottish island and the fifth-largest of the British Isles. There are an additional 15 inhabited islands.
Only 16 of about 100 islands are inhabited. The main island of the group is known as Mainland. The next largest are Yell, Unst, and Fetlar, which lie to the north, and Bressay and Whalsay, which lies to the east. The other inhabited islands are Foula 28 kilometers (17 mi) west of Walls, Fair Isle 38 kilometers (24 mi) southwest of Sumburgh Head, and the Out Skerries to the east.
Shetland has been inhabited since prehistoric times, it has only been part of Scotland since 1472 when it was mortgaged by King Christian I of Norway in lieu of the dowry for his daughter Margaret and later annexed by James III of Scotland.
History of Shetland Islands
During World War II the Shetland Bus was established by the Norwegian Navy and was used as a means of administration along with the Norwegian coast. Based first at Lunna, then Scalloway, the Shetland Bus made 200 trips across the sea under the command of Leif Larsen.
Late into the 20th-century oil reserves were discovered both east and west of Shetland providing a new source of income for the islands.
The North Sea oil business, as well as cattle and sheep raising, are the major contributors to the economy. The islands are famous for indigenous Shetland Ponies, hand-knitted wool sweaters, world-class fishing venues and copious wildlife – especially birds and seals.
The island are well-served by regional airports and ferries. Note that the islands are actually closer to the coast of Norway than mainland Scotland.