Orkney is a thriving, fertile island archipelago of around 70 islands lying only 7 miles north of the Scottish mainland.
Orkney has occupied a pivotal strategic position as a departure point for the exploration of Canada, a land base for the Viking raiders, a naval harbour for the British Fleet and a graveyard for the surrendered German High Seas Fleet of the Great War. Orkney’s landscape ranges from the lush green pastures of prime farmland to the rugged rocky coasts, teeming with birdlife.
At one time owned by Norway, but sold in 1468 to Scotland, Orkney remains under the national government of the United Kingdom. English is the official language. However, native Orcadians and particular island residents have established an Orcadian dialect described as a variation and softer Scottish brogue sometimes mistaken for a Welsh accent.
Orkney’s population of 19,612 inhabitants occupy 18 of the 70 islands. The largest island is called Mainland where 85% of the people live. Stromness is Orkney’s second town and main roll-on roll-off ferry link with the Scottish mainland.
Kirkwall has been Orkney’s administrative and commercial centre since the 11th Century and is a bustling market and tourist centre with annual tourist numbers of over 120,000 visitors per year. The spectacular St Magnus Cathedral, dedicated in 1137, dominates the centre of the town.
Since 1976 the oil industry has processed North Sea oil through the Flotta Oil terminal. Up to 11 .5m tonnes were processed in 1993. The development of the Atlantic oilfields west of Orkney promises continuation for some years to come.
The farming community revolves around family farms. Tourism follows farming in importance with 120,000 visitors per annum producing a £25m spend compared to Orkney’s white fish trawler fleets £7m a year.
Opportunities exist for most sports. Orkney has a network of community facilities for basic sports, arts and leisure time provision. The Pickaquoy Centre, completed in 1999, incorporates a main arena with a capacity for all indoor court games or 10 badminton courts, has health and fitness suites, small halls, cafeteria and bar, and other general purpose rooms. It supports external facilities of a 6-lane all-weather athletics track, a full-size synthetic grass pitch plus other general recreational facilities.
last updated: 22/06/07