The Shetland Islands

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The Shetland Islands Travel Guide

Although most people associate the word `Shetland’ only with the adorably tiny ponies, the islands are actually a very interesting place to visit. A part of Scotland, yet distinctive in their culture, the Shetland Isles are a group of about 100 islands, virtually treeless, which lie off the Scottish mainland. Only about a quarter of the islands are inhabited, and much of the population lives on the largest island, which is somewhat inappropriately, named Mainland; it is also the island where the main town of the Shetlands, Lerwick, is situated. Occupied for nearly six centuries by the Scandinavians, the islands were given away as dowry to Scotland, but the Norse legacy remains- in local festivals, in the dialect and in the heritage of the people.

The Shetlands have been, for centuries, an important port of call on sea routes; and even today, people from visit them across the world. Some come here for business - wool, animal husbandry and oil are the three main sources of income for the Shetlands, but an increasing number are coming to the Shetlands as tourists. And with good reason too- the islands are beautiful, their cultural heritage is very rich and different from mainland Scotland in many ways, and it’s a trip worth making.

You are sure to find a lot of Shetland ponies in the Isles- at fairs, carnivals, horse shows and in riding schools and in the meadows. A Shetland pony is gentle, good tempered and intelligent by nature. So don’t be afraid and take a ride on the short yet strong Shetland pony.

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