Rousay (Old Norse: Hrólfsey meaning Rolf's Island) is a small, hilly island about 3 km (1.9 mi) north of Orkney's Mainland, off the north coast of Scotland, and has been nicknamed "the Egypt of the north", due to its archaeological diversity and importance. It is separated from mainland Orkney by the Eynhallow Sound, and, like its neighbours Egilsay and Wyre, can be reached by a ro-ro ferry (MV Eynhallow) from Tingwall, on the mainland of Orkney, which takes 20–25 minutes. This service is operated by Orkney Ferries, and can take up to 95 passengers (reduced to 50 in winter), and 10 cars. The ferry links the islands of Rousay, Egilsay, and Wyre with each other, and with the mainland of Orkney.
In the 2001 census, Rousay had a population of 212 people. Most employment opportunities are in farming, fishing or fish-farming; there are also craft businesses and some seasonal tourism-related work. There is one circular road round the island, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) long, and most arable land lies in the few hundred yards between this and the coastline. With an area of 4,860 hectares (18.8 sq mi), it is the fifth largest of the Orkney Islands.