The Highlands (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd, "the place of the Gaels"; Scots: the Hielands) are a historic region of Scotland. The region became culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.
The area is very sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. Before the 19th century the Highlands was home to a much larger population, but due to a combination of factors including the outlawing of the traditional Highland way of life following the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the infamous Highland Clearances, and mass migration to urban areas during the Industrial Revolution, the area is now one of the most sparsely populated in Europe. At 9.1 per km2 in 2012, the population density in the Highlands and Islands is less than 1/7th of Scotland's as a whole, comparable with that of Bolivia, Chad and Russia.
The Highland Council is the administrative body for much of the Highlands, with its administrative centre at Inverness. However, the Highlands also includes parts of the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Perth and Kinross, and Stirling. Although the Isle of Arran administratively belongs to North Ayrshire, its northern part is generally regarded as part of the Highlands.
The latest Census figures released by the National Register of Scotland, show that the Highlands' population has risen by 23,000 between 2001 and 2011 to 232,000.
The Scottish highlands is the only region in the UK to have the Taiga biome as it features concentrated populations of Scots pine.