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Shetland is a group of islands in the northern North Sea, some 150 miles from the north-east tip of the Scottish mainland. Once annexed by the Vikings and subsequently part of the kingdom of Norway, Shetland (together with Orkney) became part of Scotland in 1469. It is a county of Scotland and has remained a unitary local administrative authority. More than Orkney, Shetland has asserted its cultural separateness from Scotland, most notably by the annual ‘Viking’ midwinter festival of Up-Helly-A. North Sea oil has had a significant effect on the economy: one of the main terminals for landing oil from pipelines is at Sullom Voe, and the local authority negotiated with the oil companies a deal which generated considerable revenue for the islands, which were able to cut local taxes and build up a development fund for the future.
Charlotte M. Lythe
Shetland Islands Group of c.100 islands ne of the Orkneys, 210km (130mi) off the n coast of Scotland, constituting an administrative region. The principal islands are Mainland (which has the main town of Lerwick), Yell, Unst, Whalsay, and Bressay. Settled by Norse invaders in the 9th century, Scotland sezied the islands in 1472. Fishing and livestock are important, and the islands are famous for Shetland ponies. The region is also noted for its woollen clothing. More recently, oil and tourism have become major industries. Area: 1433sq km (553sq mi) Pop. (2000) 22,440.