See also the Isle of Mam. For the Isle of Man Cat, see Manx
The Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin in Manx), a British crown dependency, lies in the Irish Sea almost equidistant from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It has an area of 572 km² (221 square miles) and a population of around 76,315 (2001 Census). It arguably has the "oldest continuous parliament in the world" (a claim made by several other countries) - the Tynwald - supposedly founded in 979. Although the Manx people celebrated the millennium of Tynwald in 1979, the establishment of Tynwald may have actually pre-dated 979.
Main article: History of the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man became a Viking outpost/kingdom from circa AD 700 to AD 900, and was part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century when it came under the control of the Scottish crown. The Island came under English control in the 14th century and to the British crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the once almost-extinct Manx language, and the recent significant immigration of non-Manx people to serve the financial sector. These immigrants are mainly involved in setting up off-shore entities for tax avoidance purposes.
The Isle of Man has for centuries used the ancient symbol known as the Triskelion: three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh. The Triskelion does not appear to have an official definition - Government publications, currency, flags, the tourist authority and others all use different variants. Most, but not all, preserve rotational symmetry. Some run clockwise, others counter-clockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12:00, others at 11:30 or 10:00, etc. Some have the knee bent at 90 degrees, some at 60 degrees, some at closer to 120 degrees. Also the degree of ornamentation of the legwear and spur varies considerably.
The three legs relate directly to the Island's motto - Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, which translates to Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand. Interpretations of the motto often stress stability and robustness in the Manx character. Many schools on the Island have adapted the motto to promote perserverence and hard work.
Main article: Politics of the Isle of Man
A common misconception exists that Man forms part of the United Kingdom; under British law it does not, although the United Kingdom takes care of its external and defence affairs. Due to this autonomy and the conservative nature of a primarily rural society, the Isle of Man has had several run-ins with the European Court of Human Rights because it was late to change its laws concerning birching (corporal punishment for juvenile male offenders) and sodomy (consensual sexual relations between adult men).
Man is a British Crown dependency. Mec Vannin, a political party, advocates the establishment of Man as a sovereign republic. A Manx Labour Party also exists, unaffiliated to the UK Labour Party. The Island formerly had a Manx National Party and a Manx Communist party. There are Manx members in the Celtic League, a political pressure group that advocates greater cooperation between and political autonomy for the Celtic "Nations". The main political issues include the island's relationship with the finance sector, housing prices and shortages, and the Manx language. The vast majority of the members of the House of Keys are non-partisan (19), with two representatives from the Manx Labour Party and three from the Alliance for Progressive Government. The next scheduled elections are in 2006.
The Isle of Man holds neither membership nor associate membership of the European Union, but forms part of the customs territory of the Union, allowing it to trade freely with EU members. Citizens of the Isle of Man (Manxmen) are defined as also being European Union Citizens, however Protocol Three in the treaty of accession of the United Kingdom stipulates that "Manx people shall not benefit from provisions relating to the free movement of persons and services". This means that a special endorsement is placed in their passports preventing them from freely living or working in other EU states. Travel to the Isle of Man is regulated by the local government laws. Visitors from countries who require a UK visa may also require a special Man visa, obtainable from a British Embassy. All non-Manx, including UK citizens, are required to obtain a work permit to take up employment on the Island.
Main article: Geography of the Isle of Man
The mountain Snaefell (621m) dominates the centre of the island: from its summit, according to an old saying, one can see seven kingdoms: the Kingdoms of Man, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Heaven and the Sea.
Main article: Economy of the Isle of Man
Offshore banking, manufacturing, and tourism form key sectors of the economy of the Isle of Man. The government's policy of offering incentives to high-technology companies and financial institutions to locate on the Island has expanded employment opportunities in high-income industries. As a result, agriculture and fishing, once the mainstays of the economy, have declined in their shares of Gross domestic product (GDP). Banking and other services now contribute the great bulk of GDP. Trade takes place mostly with the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man has access to European Union goods markets.
Since 1999, the Isle of Man has received electricity through by world's longest submarine alternating current cable, the Isle of Man to England Interconnector.
Main article: Demographics of the Isle of Man
See: Music of the Isle of Man