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Papa is one of the three Shetland islands refering to the parpar the early iro-celtic monks who settled in these islands. The other two are Papa Stour and Papa Little off the north coast of West Mainland.
In 1901 there was a population of 36 but the island was abandoned in the early 1930s. The remains of the farmstead above and to the south east of the shore of North Voe are still visible.
What once had been one island is almost completely split into two islands due to coastal erosion with The Voes separating the north western part around the West Head of Papa as a tidal island from the rest at high water spring tides. Within the nearer "geological future" the same will happen to the eastern part of Papa with the rising sea cutting into the land following a depression along a zone of structural weakness between North Voe and South Voe.