A sparsely inhabited island in the Inner Hebrides, Soay lies to the west of Loch Scavaig on the west coast of the island of Skye from which it is separated by Soay Sound. It extends over an area of 1036 ha (2560 acres) and rises to 141m (462 feet) at Beinn Bhreac. The main settlement is at Mol-chlach. Formerly held by the MacLeods of Dunvegan, Soay was owned for three years from 1946 by the author Gavin Maxwell who engaged in commercial fishing for basking sharks. In 1850 there were 150 people living on the island, but this declined to 11 in 1961, 5 (1971), rising to 8 (1981) and 14 (1991) but falling once again to 7 in 2001 and only 1 (2011). The world's first solar-powered telephone exchange was established here in 1978. Soay Primary School closed in 2005.