The Outer Hebrides are a chain of islands off the west coast of Scotland, stretching from the north of Lewis, south to Barra. Each island and each community has its own distinctive character. All are bound together by the Gaelic culture and language which continue to exert a strong influence.
The area described in Gaelic by HIE as Innse Gall, is also known as Na h-Eileanan Siar, or the Western Isles. Fifteen islands are inhabited, with Lewis and Harris being the largest and most populous.
Excluding Stornoway and its environs, the area is designated economically fragile, so the need for sustainable development opportunities, which combine economic, social, cultural and environmental attributes, is paramount.