The Shetland Islands are 12 hours by ferry from the Scottish mainland, hundreds of miles from Edinburgh and closer to Oslo than London.

Scandinavian-style houses stand in a remote glen on the Shetland IslandsCathal McNaughton/Reuters

Many of the 23,000 inhabitants of the windswept islands have strong feelings about September's referendum on Scottish independence.

An online petition posted on the Scottish government website demands that the Shetland Islands, neighbouring Orkney and the Western Isles all hold referendums to decide whether to join an independent Scotland, stay with Great Britain or declare independence themselves.

Many Shetlanders see the referendum as an opportunity to gain control over local services and a share of revenues from the oil pumped from the North Sea.

welcome to shetland
Two women take a 'selfie' in front of a 'Welcome to Shetland' sign in the town of LerwickCathal McNaughton/Reuters
shetland flag
The flag of Shetland flies in a garden on the Shetland IslandsCathal McNaughton/Reuters
A map showing the location of the Shetland IslandsGoogle

The archipelago sees itself as closer to Scandinavia than to Britain, hosting Viking fire festivals for Hogmanay and Up Helly Aa with hundreds of Shetland Vikings holding flaming torches.

Some 29.2% of Shetland Islanders are direct descendants of Vikings, according to a study by BritainsDNA.

Photographer Cathal McNaughton travelled to the archipelago and asked Shetlanders how they will be voting in the referendum.

Sue White
Sue White, 51, walks in the garden of her croft near the village of Scalloway. White plans to vote Yes to independence, as "I am an optimist."Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Ian Tomkinson, 57, and Jo Tomkinson, 48, poses for a photograph beside their house near the village of Sandness. They both plan to vote no to independence. Ian says "We're being asked to vote for something for which we've really no idea what the outcome will be."Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Eunson family
Five-year-old Roan and 14-year old Euan play football as their father Ronnie Eunson prepares breakfast in their croft near the village of Scalloway. Eunson plans to vote yes, as a small country will be more responsible for the policies it pursues."Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
caroline miller
Former councillor Caroline Miller, 47, poses for a photograph near her home on the Island of Bressay. She plans to vote Yes in the upcoming independence vote as "I think that democracy for the people by the people and what we have in Scotland under the Tories isn't democracy."Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Abattoir worker Lauraine Manson, 47, says: "I will be voting no because there's too many questions unanswered."Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

There are about 100 Shetland islands, though only 16 of these are inhabited. There are ten times as many puffins as humans on the islands.

bridge to bressay
Cars travel over a bridge connecting mainland Shetland with west BurraCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Boys walk up a road on the small island of Bressay after taking the ferry across from Lerwick in the distance
Boys walk up a road on the small island of Bressay after taking the ferry across from Lerwick (in the distance)Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
sullom voe
Flames flare from a pipe in a gas terminal at Sullom Voe in the north of ShetlandCathal McNaughton/Reuters
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Youngsters sit outside a fish and chip shop in the town of LerwickCathal McNaughton/Reuters
lerwick houses
A woman leaves her Scandinavian-style house in the town of LerwickCathal McNaughton/Reuters