Geologically unique, rich in flora and fauna, wild, remote and steeped in history, the many islands around the long and rugged coastline of Scotland are among the most unspoilt and beautiful destinations to be found anywhere on our crowded planet. Formed during massive and violent upheavals in the Earth's crust nearly three billion years ago and later eroded and shaped by the action of ice, the islands of Scotland also bear the scars of thousands of years of human occupation. From Neolithic settlements, chambered burial tombs, megalithic stone circles, and Iron Age brochs, to early Celtic Christian chapels, Viking place names, clan fortresses, deserted townships of the infamous 'clearances' and more modern relics of both world wars, the islands of Scotland are a historical treasure trove second to none. From the sand-blown machair of Tiree and the white shell-sand beaches of Barra to the towering sea-cliffs and stacks of remote St Kilda and the dramatic Cullins of Skye, the Scottish islands are famed worldwide for their beauty. Internationally recognised for their flora and fauna, the islands are also home to many important nature reserves that provide a safe haven for rare and endangered plant and bird species. The surrounding seas, rich in marine life, not only support vast colonies of seabirds but also large numbers of seal, whale, dolphin and porpoise. Exploring the Islands of Scotland is both beautiful and practical and not only provides the intrepid traveller with a fascinating insight into each island's history and flora and fauna, but also contains valuable information on how to get there, tourist information, what to see, where to stay and island walks.