Orkney - At a glance

Orkney at a glance

Location Eight miles north of Caithness in northern Scotland (58.98°N 2.96°W)
Size Land and sea cover an area 49 miles north–south by 38 miles east–west.
Land area 381.8 square miles
Islands 70 officially named, 19 inhabited
Heights Sea level to 1,570ft (479m)
Climate January 6°C; summer 15°C
Population 21,670
Density 56.76 people per square mile
Capital Kirkwall
Status Unitary authority answering to both the Scottish Parliament and Westminster, part of both Scotland and the United Kingdom
Language English, Orcadian
Religion Predominantly Church of Scotland; very small proportion of Roman Catholic (1–8% depending on island)
Currency Pound sterling
International telephone code +44
Time GMT (winter); GMT+1 (summer)
Electrical voltage 230V
Weights and measures Road signs in miles; elsewhere both metric and imperial widely used
Public holidays Same as mainland Scotland: 1 Jan; 2 Jan; Good Friday; early May Bank Holiday (1st Monday of month); Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday of month); Summer Bank Holiday (1st Monday of August); St Andrew’s Day (30 Nov); Christmas Day; Boxing Day

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Orkney articles

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Where isolation is the norm: exploring the world’s remotest islands

Want to get really off grid? Check out our favourite remarkable remote islands from around the world. 


The best places to see puffins

These endearing creatures are everyone's favourite North Atlantic bird.


Island life: Orkney’s cultural treasures

One of the most striking things about Orkney is the strong sense of culture that you encounter everywhere. 


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