Islay, a Scottish island, known as "The Queen of the Hebrides" is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies in Argyll just west of Jura and around 25 miles (40 km) north of the Irish coast and Rathlin Island, which can be seen on a clear day. In Gaelic a native of Islay is called an Ileach, pronounced, and the plural is Ilich: Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about a third of the population. The island's capital is Bowmore where the distinctive round Kilarrow Parish Church and a distillery are located. Port Ellen is the next largest settlement and main port.
Islay is the fifth largest Scottish island and the sixth largest island surrounding Great Britain. It has just over three thousand inhabitants. It has a total area of almost 620 square kilometres (239 sq mi). Its main industries are malt whisky distilling, and tourism largely based on whisky and birdwatching.
The island is home to many bird species and is a popular destination throughout the year with birdwatchers, especially in autumn and winter to see the wintering population of Greenland white-fronted and barnacle geese. Resident birds include Red-billed Chough, Hen Harrier, Corncrake, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Oystercatcher, Cormorant and many wading birds. The climate on Islay is often more clement than the Scottish mainland owing to the Gulf Stream.
The island's population is mainly centred around the villages of Bowmore, Port Ellen and Port Charlotte. Other smaller villages include Portnahaven, Bridgend, Ballygrant and Port Askaig. The rest of the island is sparsely populated and mainly agricultural.