The Hebrides ; Old Norse: Suðreyjar) comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic, and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive influences of Celtic, Norse, and English-speaking peoples. This diversity is reflected in the names given to the islands, which are derived from the languages that have been spoken there in historic and perhaps prehistoric times.
The Hebrides are the source of much of Scottish Gaelic literature and Gaelic music. Today the economy of the islands is dependent on crofting, fishing, tourism, the oil industry, and renewable energy. The Hebrides have lower biodiversity than mainland Britain, but there is a significant presence of seals and seabirds.
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