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Shetland

(Shetland Islands)

The northernmost local authority of the British Isles, Shetland comprises over 100 islands and rocky skerries of which only 16 are inhabited. The total population extends to 21,988 (2001) and 23,167 (2011). They were acquired by Scotland in 1468 as part of the marriage settlement between a Danish princess and the future King James III and every year the midwinter festival of Up Helly-Aa is a reminder of their Scandinavian past. After decades of decline the population of Shetland rose sharply in the 1970s and 1980s as a direct result of oil related activity in the North Sea, but apart from a dependence on oil, agriculture and fishing, its fiddle music and knitwear are known throughout the world. The council is headquartered in Lerwick, the largest town, and because of its isolation has managed to escape the successive reorganisations which have occurred elsewhere in Scotland. Shetland and its southern neighbour Orkney share representation in the British Parliament, but it returns its own member to the Scottish Parliament.

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