The latest Isle of Skye population is 13,143. This is based on data from 2017. The population on Skye is growing, and is projected to increase to almost 15,000 over the next 20-25 years.
Skye is the fourth largest island in Scotland, after Lewis & Harris, Mainland (Shetland) and Mainland (Orkney), and is the second largest island in the Hebrides, after Lewis and Harris, and the largest island in the Inner Hebrides.
With an area of 639 square miles, Skye is the second largest island in Scotland – only Lewis and Harris is larger.
Portree is the largest town on Skye. The population of Portree is 2,460 (2016 data). Other major settlements are Broadford (population 1,110) and Kyle of Lochalsh (population 650).
Isle of Skye Population Growth
The population on Skye peaked in the 1820s – the 1821 census records a population of 23,082.
The Clearances and First World War deaths were major factors in the island’s population decline, and the population fell below 10,000 for the first time in modern history in 1931. Many years of further gradual decline followed, and by the time of the 1971 census the number of people living on Skye fell to as low as 7,183 people – less than a third of it’s peak population.
In recent years, life on the island is seen as more attractive and the population is steadily growing again, and the current population of 10,008 is the highest since 1931.
The population of Portree, the island’s largest town, is reported to have fallen as low as 300 people, although has rebounded to a be home to almost 2,500 people today.
The table below lists the Isle of Skye population at various points since 1755.
Isle of Skye Languages
The vast majority of residents of Skye spoke Gaelic as their first language in the 19th century and before. However, today, only around one in three people on the island speak Gaelic.
The 2001 census showed that 31% spoke Gaelic. The number of Gaelic speakers varies from place to place on the island, with people on the north of the island more than twice as likely (61% in Staffin) to speak Gaelic as residents in the west and east of the island (23% in Luib and 19% in Kylerhea).