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22 Feb 2018

The islands at the edge of the world

A view down a sloping green hill to a bay and the sea stretching to the horizon beyond.
St Kilda Village and coast from above
St Kilda is the UK’s only World Heritage Site listed for both its unique cultural and natural heritage.

With only 24 sites in the world holding dual status, St Kilda shares this designation with Machu Picchu in Peru and Mount Athos in Greece.

Unesco cultural and natural heritage status logos.
St Kilda holds UNESCO dual World Heritage status.

The archipelago of St Kilda is located 41 miles west of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Formed from the rim of an ancient volcano, it is the remotest part of the British Isles.

Key facts

  • In 1930 the remaining 36 islanders asked to be evacuated because their way of life was no longer sustainable.
  • St Kilda is home to over 1 million nesting seabirds – Europe’s largest colony.
  • A quarter of Britain and Ireland’s breeding Atlantic puffins are found on St Kilda.
  • Did you know? A baby puffin is called a ‘puffling’.
Puffling (a baby puffin) being held in someone's hand.
A puffling (baby puffin).
  • The numbers of black-legged kittiwakes have declined by 90% in the last 15 years.
  • St Kildan men developed large muscular feet and ankles over time due to constant rock climbing in search of eggs and birds.
A comparison between a St Kildan's more muscular foot (right) and a mainlander's foot (left).
A comparison between a St Kildan's (right) and a mainlander's feet (left).

New challenges are on the horizon

As Scotland’s largest conservation charity we’ve acted as guardians of this magical place for 60 years. Now, 86 years after the last native St Kildans left, new threats are on the horizon. It’s our mission to make sure the cultural heritage they left behind, and the outstanding natural heritage, isn’t lost too.

Seabirds and habitats are under threat

Climate change and rising ocean temperatures are challenging the precious marine environment and the millions of nesting seabirds it sustains. Damaging storms are crashing into St Kilda’s stacs and cliffs, eroding archaeological treasures that are millennia old.

See more of St Kilda

These remote islands aren’t that easy to get to, so we’ve teamed up with Google so you can explore St Kilda on a virtual trek.

You can also learn more about the challenges facing the ‘Galapagos of the North’ in this video.

St Kilda: Facing the Change

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