Rural Orkney – a view from the West Mainland looking towards the Loch of Stenness. (Sigurd Towrie)

Orkney is a prosperous area of Scotland, with farming and tourism playing a major role in the economy. The islands are generally very fertile and most of the land is farmland. More than 90 per cent of this is used for grazing for sheep and cattle, with cereal production utilising about four per cent.

Every year, the islands’ population swells as thousands more visitors from the UK and beyond explore Orkney’s past and present, soaking up ancient history and contemporary culture, craft and sampling the islands’ abundant locally-produced food and drink.

Visitor numbers have grown steadily over the past few decades, with more than 190,000 visits recorded in 2019. The county is also one of the country’s most popular cruise ship destinations, bringing more than a hundred ships to the islands annually.

Helping attract these visitors is the fact that the islands are home to several international festivals, including the Orkney International Science Festival in September, the Orkney Folk Festival in May, and the St Magnus International Arts Festival in June.

With renewable energy now a global force, Orkney is at the forefront and is a significant research and test centre. The European Marine Energy Test Centre is based in Orkney, helping the Islands to generate more electricity than they need, by harnessing wind, wave and tidal power. Orcadians are also big on self-employment and micro-businesses. Their productivity per head ranks in the top five local authorities in Scotland.