Isle of Man

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For the native Isle of Man Cat, see Manx Cat.

The Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin in Manx) or Mann (Mannin in Manx), is a self-governing democracy located in the Irish Sea at the geographical centre of the British Isles. Although it is not part of the United Kingdom, it is a Crown dependency.

Ellan Vannin (Manx)
Isle of Man (English)
Image:Isle of Man Arms Small.png
(In detail) (Full size)
National motto: Quocunque Jeceris Stabit
(Latin: Whithersoever you throw it, it will
Official languages None, though English is the working language of the Government. Manx enjoys some recognition in law.
Capital Douglas (Doolish)
Lord of Mann Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor Vice-Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks
Chief Minister Donald Gelling
Currency Isle of Man pound - The IOM Treasury issues its own notes and coins
Time zone UTC (DST +1)
National anthem Isle of Man National Anthem
National Flower Cushag
Internet TLD .im
National Birds Peregrine Falcon and Raven
Calling Code 44 (UK area code 01624)



Main article: Geography of the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, an archipelago off the north-western coast of mainland Europe. The island lies in the Irish Sea, approximately equidistant between England, Scotland and Ireland.

Approximately 48 km (32 miles) long and between 13 and 24 km (8 and 15 miles) in breadth, the island has an area of around 572 km² (221 square miles).

Hills in the north and south are bisected by a central valley. The extreme north is exceptionally flat, consisting mainly of deposits built up by gradual deposition of material by the sea. It has one mountain, Snaefell, with a height of 621 m (2,036 ft). According to an old saying, from the summit one can see seven kingdoms: those of Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Heaven and Neptune.


Main article: Demographics of the Isle of Man

According to the 2001 census, the Isle of Man is home to 76,315 people, of whom around 25,347 reside in the Island's capital, Douglas (Doolish).


The culture of the Isle of Man is strongly influenced by its Celtic and Norse origins. It is currently enjoying a revival of the Goidelic Manx language (Gaelg). Although the last original native speaker died in 1974 small children are once again being brought-up speaking Manx. There are now 27 known native speakers and 650 other speakers. Manx is closely related to the Scottish Gaelic and Irish languages.

See music of the Isle of Man.


Main article: Politics of the Isle of Man


The Isle of Man is a self-governing crown dependency. The head of state is currently HM The Queen, her title on the island is Lord of Mann. She is represented by the Island's Lieutenant Governor. The United Kingdom is responsible for the Island's defence and for representing the Island in international forums, while the Island's own parliament has competence over almost all domestic matters.

The Island's parliament is the Tynwald (Tinvaal) , which dates from 979 A.D. Tynwald is a bicameral legislature, comprising the House of Keys (directly elected by universal suffrage) and the Legislative Council (consisting of indirectly elected and ex officio members). There is a Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Chief Minister, currently Donald Gelling.

As of 2005, the Island's system of government is under review — there are plans to transform the Legislative Council into a directly-elected chamber, echoing the push for reform in the UK's House of Lords and the abolition of indirectly elected Conseillers in Guernsey. In October 2005 Tynwald accepted a proposal to change the title of the Lieutenant Governor to Crown Commissioner or Barrantagh y Chrooin in Manx (the title would also be "Barrantagh ny Benrein," or "Queen's Commissioner"; when there is a King it will be "Barrantagh ny Ree," or "King's Commissioner"). It now has to go to The Queen for her approval but the United Kingdom Department for Constitutional Affairs indicated early in 2005 that this was likely to be given.

External relations

A common misconception exists that Mann forms part of the United Kingdom. Under British law it does not, although the United Kingdom takes care of its external and defence affairs. The Isle of Man had a dispute with the European Court of Human Rights in the 1970s because it was reluctant to change its laws concerning birching (corporal punishment for male offenders). The law on sodomy (sexual relations between adult men) might have also led down this road had it not been changed in the early 1990s.

The Isle of Man holds neither membership nor associate membership of the European Union, and lies outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Nonetheless, Protocol Three of the treaty of accession of the United Kingdom permits trade for Manx goods without non-EU tariffs. In conjunction with the Customs and Excise agreement with the UK, this facilitates free trade with the UK. While Manx goods can be freely moved within the EEA, people, capital and services cannot.

There is no Manx citizenship. Manx people are classed as British citizens but those defined as Manx under Protocol Three have a special endorsement placed in their passports preventing them from freely living or working in EU states. This is anomalous in that the treaty establishing the EU (formerly EEC) clearly states that all citizens of member states will also be citizens of the EU. 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 Manx visa, obtainable from a British diplomatic mission. All non-Manx, including UK citizens, are required to obtain a work permit to take up employment on the Island.


Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as is the case in the United Kingdom. Consequently, much Manx legislation develops through consensus among the members of Tynwald, which contrasts with the much more adversarial nature of the UK parliament.

One political party, Mec Vannin, advocates the establishment of 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 co-operation 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 election is in 2006.


The Isle of Man is divided into six administrative districts, called sheadings. The six sheadings are Ayre, Glenfaba, Garff, Michael, Rushen and Middle. The sheadings form the basis of some constituencies and each has a Coroner. This office must not be confused with the Coronor for Inquests, a role usually fulfilled by the High Bailiff. A person may fulfil the role of coroner for more than one sheading at the same time.

The term 'sheading' is thought to be a Norse word for 'ship division'; each district was believed to be responsible for producing a certain number of warships. It could also be a Celtic word meaning 'sixth part'.


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 markets.

Since 1999, the Isle of Man has received electricity through the world's longest submarine AC cable, the 90 kV Isle of Man to England Interconnector.


Main article: History of the Isle of Man

Ancient times to present

The Isle of Man became a Viking outpost/kingdom from circa AD 700 to AD 900. The Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles was created by Godred Crovan in 1079. The Isle of Man came under the control of the Scottish crown in 1266, as dictated in the Treaty of Perth. The Island came under English control in the 14th century and to the British crown in 1765.

The Tynwald

The island arguably has the oldest continuous parliament in the world, the Tynwald, nominally founded in 979 AD (both the Icelandic parliament and the Faroese parliament are older, but they were abolished between 1800 and 1845, and 1816 and 1852 respectively).

The Triskelion

Car registration plate, with the triskelion
Car registration plate, with the triskelion

For centuries, the Island's symbol has been the ancient 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 anticlockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12:00, others at 11:30 or 10:00, etc. Some have the knee bent at 90°, some at 60°, some at closer to 120°. Also the degree of ornamentation of the leg wear and spur vary 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 perseverance and hard work.

Skancke coat of arms
Skancke coat of arms

Variations on the Triskelion are still in use on the coats of arms belonging to the different branches of the ancient Norwegian noble family that ruled Mann up until the 13th century. This particular version belongs to the Skancke branch of the Skanke family. The name stems from skank, the Norwegian version of the word shank. The kinsmen of Magnus III and Godfred Magnuson emigrated to Norway after the failure of the 1275 uprising against the Scots and became knights, landlords, and clergy under the Norwegian Crown.


The Isle of Man is famous for its TT Motorbike racing event, which began in 1904 as a motorcar race. This event is now a series of races held each year in May and early June.

Football is also popular, with the Isle of Man Football Association running a football league of 27 clubs in two divisions, as well as a football combination for the reserve teams of the league clubs. There is also a national football team, although it does not participate in UEFA or FIFA tournaments.

The Isle of Man Cricket Association broke their affiliation with the Lancashire Cricket Board in 2004 to become affiliate members of the International Cricket Council and compete as a national team in their own right.

There are a number of Rugby Union clubs that participate in England's rugby set-up, such as Castletown R.U.F.C.; Douglas R.U.F.C.; Southern Nomads R.U.F.C.; and Vagabonds R.U.F.C..

Famous residents

The British racing driver Nigel Mansell lived on the Isle of Man together with his family until moving to the USA. Jonny Longrigg of the Newcastle upon Tyne-based post rock collective Peace Burial at Sea is known to holiday on the island regularly. Sir Norman Wisdom, comedian and actor, is a long term resident. The Bee Gees were born there before moving to the UK [1]. Jeremy Clarkson has a home near Castletown. Rick Wakeman has lived on the island for a number of years. Singer Christine Collister grew up on the Isle of Man.

See also


External links

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