Covering an area the size of Switzerland, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is easily the UK's largest region.
In geopolitical terms, this is normally an indication of strength. But for the most northerly and remote part of the country, its size has hindered its economic growth.
The region is sparsely populated, and the availability of labour is a constant concern for employers lured by the promise of significant public assistance. Communications are poor, made worse by mountains and lochs.
Mark Wilson, associate