Moray is one of the smallest region in Scotland, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up in scenery, facilities and quality of life. For residents and visitors alike, it offers all that is best in Scotland while retaining its own unique identity and one of which it is justifiably proud. With a population of just 88,000, Moray nestles between the rugged and spectacular Highlands and the flat, fertile farmlands of the north-east and although it belongs to neither, it shares the best elements of both - from the snow - capped peaks of the Cairngorms to the unspoiled coastline of the Moray Firth.
Local industry is as diverse as the landscape in which it is located and makes a major contribution to the area's buoyant economy. Moray is the heartland of the Scotch whisky industry and is home to more than 45 distilleries whose brands are savoured in just about every corner of the world.
In the spirit of celebration, music plays a vital role in the Moray community. There are major music festivals every year, including the traditional Speyfest and the Spirit of Speyside, the latter linked to the whisky industry. Venues for the performing arts thrive in the area, and each town sustains a lively artistic culture. Most recently a new art centre has been completed in Findhorn, capable of hosting important exhibitions and accommodating music and dramatic art.
Traditional industries - farming, fishing and forestry - play an important part in the area's culture whilst underpinning the economy. In addition, two internationally renowed food producers, Baxters of Speyside and Walkers of Aberlour, have put Moray firmly on the international map.
Moray's recent history has been inextricably linked with the Royal Air Force and its twin bases at Lossiemouth and nearby Kinloss. Both bases were founded in 1938 as the prospect of war with Germay loomed large and the RAF expanded to meet the mounting threat. In addition to playing a key role in the defence of the United Kingdom for over 70 years, the air stations have been important to the economy of the area and until recently provided employment for some 4,500 service and civilian personnel.
The area's biggest town and administrative capital is Elgin, which is also Moray's principal shopping centre and many leading national retailers are represented alongside long-established local outlets. Moray Council is the areas largest employer with 4,800 full-time and part-time staff. Other main towns include Forres, well-known for its successes in national floral competitions; Buckie, with its fishing and commercial harbour, and Keith, built on a once-thriving textiles industry.
Sitting midway between Aberdeen and Inverness, Moray prides itself in an environment which is welcoming, friendly and safe and where a true sense of community thrives. And while no promises can be made about the weather, it boasts one of the most equitable climates to be found anywhere in Scotland.
Moray is a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, with many designated foothpaths, cycleways and bridleways and with a fascinating array of wildlife for those interested in natural history. The area has some of the best salmon and trout rivers in Scotland while several coastal marinas have been developed in recent years to cater for the increasing number of yachts and pleasure craft using the sheltered inshore waters of the Moray Firth.
Moray can be whatever the resident or visitor wants it to be - a place of peace and tranquility or somewhere to excercise the spirit of adventure. Whichever it is, this introduction can only scratch the surface in exploring what the area has to offer and the huge range of attributes which gives it a place of its own in Scotland's rich culture and heritage.
For more information please visit www.moray.gov.uk