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Isles of Scilly

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The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets (around 140 in total) lying 28 miles off Land's End - the most southwesterly point of the British Isles. The five inhabited islands are (in order of size) St Mary's[?], Tresco[?], St Martins[?], St Agnes[?] and Bryher (island)[?]; the total population is just over 2000.

The climate is warmer than mainland Britain, and the islands rarely have frost or snow, while the exposure to the Atlantic winds means spectacular winter gales lash the islands from time to time. These contrasts in climate can be clearly seen on Tresco where the lush subtropical Abbey Gardens on the sheltered southern end of the island contrast with the low heather and bare rock sculpted by the wind on the exposed northern end.

The islands have been inhabited since Stone Age times, with people living from the land and the sea. In recent years tourism has become the major occupation, but fishing and farming still play an important role. The largest agricultural product is cut flowers, mostly daffodils.

The tourist season has been extended into October when many birders arrive. Because of its position, Scilly is the first landing for many vagrant birds, including extreme rarities from North America and Siberia.

The islands are the property of the British Crown (except for Hugh Town, on St Mary's, which was sold to the inhabitants in 1949), and are administered by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Sometimes known by variant forms such as Scilly Isles, but Isles of Scilly is the official name.

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