Skye, the largest island of the inner Hebrides, off the W. coast of Scotland, forming part of Inverness-shire, from the mainland of which it is separated by the narrow strait of Loch Alsh; area, 535 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 17,330. The surface is mountainous. In the centre of the island the Cuchullin or Coolin hills and other summits rise to the height of 2,000 and 3,000 ft. above the sea. The shores, especially in the north, are very bold and picturesque, and are indented by many inlets or lochs. In the northeast are basaltic columns equal to those at Staffa, and caves, some of which abound with stalactites of great beauty. Soapstone, manganese, jet, and some coal are found, but none of them are productively worked. White and variegated marble is quarried. The climate is variable; on the higher portions the snow lies long, and when it melts there are heavy rains. The soil is poor and the productions scanty. The greater part of it is in pasture, and devoted to the rearing of cattle and sheep. Large plantations of trees have lately been made. Red deer and game are abundant. The well known Skye terrier is raised here. The fisheries, especially in the sounds between the island and the mainland, furnish employment and subsistence to a large proportion of the inhabitants.
The manufacture of kelp, once extensive, is now nearly extinct; there are no other manufactures, and very little trade. The people are of Gaelic origin; they are peaceable and moral, but indolent and generally poor. The island contains many Danish antiquities. The greater part of the land belongs to Lord Macdonald and the Macleod family. Skye was the home of Flora Macdonald, who died here in 1790. The principal port is Portree, which has an excellent harbor.