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Western Isles is the name given to the administrative region which since 1973 has been the local government area for the Outer Hebrides (Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Eriskay, and other small islands). Until 1973 Lewis was part of the county of Ross and Cromarty, and the other islands of Inverness-shire. Although the islands are diverse geologically, they are mostly rocky or peaty with sandy shores, supporting very limited agriculture, mainly in crofting townships, which provide some of the raw material for the woollen goods manufacture for which Harris is famed. Various attempts to diversify manufacturing (most notably Lord Leverhulme's establishment of Leverburgh, in Harris) have had very limited success). The isolation of the Western Isles has helped Scottish Gaelic to survive as a living language, with distinctive accents in the different islands, and the local authority fosters Gaelic, for example by bilingual road and street signs.
Charlotte M. Lythe
Western Isles or Western Islands, Scotland: see Hebrides, the.
Western Isles See Hebrides