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Another possible early written reference to the islands is Tacitus' report in Agricola in AD 98, after describing the discovery and conquest of Orkney, that the Roman fleet had seen "Thule, too".—"the Isles of Cats", which may have been the pre-Norse inhabitants' name for the islands.

The Cat tribe also occupied parts of the northern Scottish mainland and their name can be found in Caithness, and in the Gaelic name for Sutherland ( This is also the source of the ZE postcode used for Shetland. The next largest are Yell, Unst, and Fetlar, which lie to the north, and Bressay and Whalsay, which lie to the east.

The most distinctive features are the ultrabasic Geological evidence shows that in around 6100 BC a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slides hit Shetland, as well as the rest of the east coast of Scotland, and may have created a wave of up to 25 metres (82 ft) high in the voes where modern populations are highest.

The highest point of Shetland is Ronas Hill at 450 metres (1,480 ft).

When Scotland became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, trade with northern Europe decreased.

Fishing has continued to be an important aspect of the economy up to the present day.

The discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s significantly boosted Shetland's economy, employment and public sector revenues.

The local way of life reflects the Scottish and Norse heritage of the isles, including the Up Helly Aa fire festival, and a strong musical tradition, especially the traditional fiddle style.

The early historic period was dominated by Scandinavian influences, especially from Norway, and the islands did not become part of Scotland until the 15th century.The Shetland pony and Shetland Sheepdog are two well-known Shetland animal breeds.Other local breeds include the Shetland sheep, cow, goose, and duck.The climate all year round is moderate due to the influence of the surrounding seas, with average night-time low temperatures a little above 1 °C (34 °F) in January and February and average daytime high temperatures of near 14 °C (57 °F) in July and August.In contrast, inland areas of nearby Scandinavia on similar latitudes experience significantly larger temperature differences between summer and winter, with the average highs of regular July days comparable to Lerwick's all-time record heat that is around 23 °C (73 °F), further demonstrating the moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean.

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