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largest and most northerly of Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands, lying 24 miles (39 km) from the west coast of the Scottish mainland and separated from it by the Minch channel. Although the island forms one continuous unit, it is usually referred to as two separate islands. The larger and more northerly portion is Lewis; Harris is in the south. Lewis is part of the historic county of Ross-shire in the historic region of Ross and Cromarty, while Harris belongs to the historic county of Inverness-shire. Both Lewis and Harris lie within the Western Isles council area.