Berneray island is scattered with ancient sacred sites, stone circles, signs of Viking inhabitation and historical buildings, some several centuries old. In common with most islands in the Outer Hebrides, the population has declined over the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the past few years has seen a gradual rise. As of 20 October 2006, the permanent resident population of Berneray stood at 130. Most people on Berneray speak Scottish Gaelic, many as a first language. Berneray is known as the birthplace of the giant Angus MacAskill and for its sandy beaches backed with sand dunes. The west beach, a three mile stretch of wide, clean and often deserted sand, is widely acclaimed. Borve and the machairThe main industries are fishing, crofting (small-scale individual farming), media/IT and tourism. Broadband internet provision became available in January 2006, giving an incentive to people wishing to relocate to Berneray and helping sustain the population and community. A key feature of Berneray is its machair. The machair is a coastal plain made up of windblown shell sand. Traditional crofting practice, which involves summer agriculture using seaweed together with dung from winter grazing animals as natural fertiliser, has, over time, bound together and stabilised the land. The machair is ploughed in rotation, giving a patchwork of crops and fallow of different ages which supports a wide range of flowers. Berneray has a particularly fine machair, a result of careful husbandry by the island’s crofters, helped by the absence of rabbits. Possibly the greatest change in modern times occurred in 1999 when the causeway opened between Berneray and Otternish on North Uist.