Hebrides, the


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to Hebrides, the: Inner Hebrides, Hebrides Islands

Hebrides, the

(hĕb`rĭdēz),

Western Isles,

or

Western Islands,

group of more than 50 islands, W and NW Scotland. Less than a fifth of the islands are inhabited. The Outer Hebrides (sometimes also referred to as the Long Island) are separated from the mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the straits of Minch and Little Minch and by the Sea of the Hebrides; they extend for 130 mi (209 km) from the Butt of Lewis on Lewis and HarrisLewis and Harris,
island (1985 est. pop. 23,500), 825 sq mi (2,137 sq km), largest and northernmost of the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles council area, NW Scotland, 24 mi (35 km) from the mainland across the Minch. The island is also called Lewis or the Lews.
..... Click the link for more information.
 to Barra Head island. Other islands are North UistUist, North , and South Uist,
islands, two of the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles council area, NW Scotland. North Uist (1985 est. pop.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra, the Flannan Islands (Seven Hunters), and Saint Kilda (or Hirta). The Outer Hebrides comprise the council area of Western Isles. The Inner Hebrides include the islands of SkyeSkye
, island (1991 pop. 8,868), 670 sq mi (1,735 sq km), largest and most northerly island of the Inner Hebrides, Highland, NW Scotland. It has an irregular coastline, and many of its lochs are rimmed by lofty, sheer precipices.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Raasay, Rum, Eigg, Coll, Tiree, StaffaStaffa
, uninhabited island, 3-4 mi (1.2 km) long and 1-4 mi (.4 km) wide, Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, one of the Inner Hebrides, near Mull. Famous for Fingal's Cave, Staffa has numerous other caves as well as sea cliffs that reach 135 ft (41 m).
..... Click the link for more information.
, IonaIona
[Irish Ioua=island] or Icolmkill [Irish,=island of Columba of the church], island (1985 est. pop. 267), 3.5 mi (5.6 km) long and 1.5 mi (2.4 km) wide, Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, one of the Inner Hebrides.
..... Click the link for more information.
, MullMull,
island, 351 sq mi (909 sq km), Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, largest island of the Inner Hebrides, separated from the mainland by the Sound of Mull and the Firth of Lorn. The land is mountainous, rising from the deeply indented coast line to 3,169 ft (966 m) at Ben More.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Scarba, ColonsayColonsay
, island, 17 sq mi (44 sq km), Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, one of the Inner Hebrides. Crofting and cheese making are the main occupations. Colonsay is separated from Oronsay by a narrow sound.
..... Click the link for more information.
, OronsayOronsay
, island, 3 sq mi (7.8 sq km), Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, one of the Inner Hebrides. The island contains ruins of a 14th-century priory, a sculptured cross from 1510, and many carved stones unearthed (1882) from Viking graves.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Jura, and IslayIslay
, island (1985 est. pop. 3,900), 240 sq mi (622 sq km), Argyll and Bute, W central Scotland, southernmost of the Inner Hebrides. Bowmore is the ancient capital, but Port Ellen (founded 1844) is the main town.
..... Click the link for more information.
. They are divided between the Highland and Argyll and Bute council areas. The climate is mild, the scenery is beautiful, and there are prehistoric and ancient historical remains and geological structures. Fishing, crop raising, sheep grazing, manufacturing of tweeds and other woolens, quarrying (slate), and catering to tourists are the chief means of livelihood.

The original Celtic inhabitants, converted to Christianity by St. Columba (6th cent.), were conquered by the Norwegians (starting in the 8th cent.). They held the Southern Islands, as they called them, until 1266. From that time the islands were formally held by the Scottish crown but were in fact ruled by various Scottish chieftains, with the Macdonalds asserting absolute rule after 1346 as lords of the isles. In the mid-18th cent. the Hebrides were incorporated into Scotland. The tales of Sir Walter ScottScott, Sir Walter,
1771–1832, Scottish novelist and poet, b. Edinburgh. He is considered the father of both the regional and the historical novel. Early Life and Works

After an apprenticeship in his father's law office Scott was admitted (1792) to the bar.
..... Click the link for more information.
 did much to make the islands famous. Emigration from the overpopulated islands occurred in the 20th cent., especially to Canada.