SHETLAND is a subarctic archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean.
Its breathtaking landscaping is the reason it has been chosen for BBC crime drama Shetland, which returns for a sixth season after a two-year hiatus.
Where is Shetland and how many people live there?
Shetland, or the Shetland Islands, is an archipelago around 170km north of the Scottish mainland.
It is made up of about 300 islands and skerries (tiny rocky islets), with 16 of them inhabited.
The largest island is known as The Mainland and in its north are the North Isles of Yell, Fetlar and Unst, which is Britain’s northernmost island.
According to the 2019 census, the population is 22,920.
Fair Isle, has a population of just over 50 while Foula to the west and Out Skerries to the east have even less.
How much daylight does Shetland get and what’s the weather like?
Because Shetland is so far north (its latitude is the same as Norway, Sweden and Finland), it experiences extremes of daylight hours.
So at the peak of summer, islanders can enjoy almost 19 hours of sunshine a day while in the depths of winter they see fewer than six hours of daylight.
Shetland’s climate is generally unsettled, with showery and comparatively cool summers – even in July and August, the average high is around 14.5C.
The long winters are dark and wild with polar winds regularly buffeting the archipelago, but are milder than similarly northerly regions.
Average temperatures in January and February, the coldest months, are around 3.5C.
If conditions are clear during the winter darkness, residents and tourists get the occasional spectacular treat of the Northern Lights, or the “Mirrie Dancers” illuminating the sky.
What are Shetland ponies?
A real tourist favourite, Shetland ponies have become synonymous with the archipelago.
Small horses have been kept on the islands since the Bronze Age, with the harshness of the climate and their heavy workload helping them to develop into very strong and hardy animals.
First used for pulling carts, ploughing farmland and carrying goods, during the industrial revolution thousands of Shetland ponies moved to the British mainland to work in coal mines.
Nowadays, the heavy-coated, short-legged animals are often ridden by children and at shows, while some miniature Shetlands have been trained as guide horses.