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an archipelago, part of Great Britain, in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Scotland and comprising approximately 500 islands, of which about 100 are inhabited. Total area, 7,500 sq km.
The Outer Hebrides are separated from the Inner Hebrides by the straits of The Minch and the Little Minch and by the Sea of the Hebrides. The Inner Hebrides include the islands of Skye, Mull, Islay, Jura, and Rum. The terrain consists mainly of rugged hilly and low mountain country (200-600 m), typically of Cenozoic effusive rock. On the islands of Skye and Mull individual cone-shaped peaks rise above the volcanic plateaus—for example, in the Cuillin Hills on Skye, which reach 1,009 m. In the Outer Hebrides, which include the islands of Lewis, North Uist, South Uist, and Barra, socle lowlands predominate (100-150 m), consisting primarily of Archaean rock (mostly gneiss). In some places there are small massifs rising to a height of 799 m and often containing Paleozoic intrusions. There are many traces of the Pleistocene glaciation, such as troughs, cirques and boulder belts. The islands have a damp maritime climate with average July temperatures of 12°-14° C and average January temperatures of 4°-6° C; annual precipitation is between 1,000 and 2,000 mm. The meadow soils consist of coarse humic and peaty turf. Steep, bare slopes are the rule, but now and then birch groves and heath may be seen, and peat bogs cover the gentler slopes. The population is engaged mainly in fishing and cattle breeding. Tweed manufacture and the tourist industry are also important.
L. R. SEREBRIANNYI