The Isle of Man (Manx: Ellan Vannin) is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. It is located in the middle of the Irish Sea, between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles.
The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann and is represented by a Lieutenant Governor.
The Island has been inhabited since before 6500 BC. It began to be influenced by Gaelic culture in the AD 5th century and the Manx language, a branch of the Gaelic languages, gradually emerged.
Viking settlement of Mann began at the end of the 8th century. The Vikings established Tynwald and introduced many land divisions that still exist. They also left the Manx Runestones. Although the Manx language does contain Norse influences, they are few. The Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles was created by Godred Crovan in 1079 after the Battle of Skyhill. During Viking times, the islands of this kingdom were called the SZQreyjar or Sudreys (‘southern isles’) in contrast to the NorQreyjar (‘northern isles’) of Orkney and Shetland. This later became Anglicised as Sodor. The Church of England diocese is still called the Diocese of Sodor and Man although it only covers Mann.
In 1266, the island became part of Scotland. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of Scotland and England, the Island came under the feudal overlordship of the English Crown in 1399.
The lordship reverted into the British Crown in 1764 but the Island never became part of the United Kingdom and retained its status as an internally self-governing jurisdiction.
The culture of the Isle of Man is influenced by its Celtic, and to a lesser extent its Norse, origins.
The official language of the Isle of Man is English. Manx Gaelic has traditionally been spoken but is now considered ‘critically endangered’.
The Isle of Man is a low-tax economy with no capital gains tax, wealth tax, stamp duty, or inheritance tax and a top rate of income tax of 20%. A tax cap is in force; the maximum amount of tax payable by an individual is £100,000 or £200,000 for couples if they choose to have their incomes jointly assessed. The £100,000 tax cap equates to an assessable income of approximately £570,000. Personal income is assessed and taxed on a total worldwide income basis rather than a remittance basis. This means that all income earned throughout the world is assessable for Manx tax rather than only income earned in or brought into the Island.
The rate of corporation tax is 0% for almost all types of income, the only exceptions are that the profits of banks are taxed at 10%, as is rental (or other) income from land and buildings situated on Mann.
It is 52 kilometres (32 miles) long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres (14 miles) wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq miles).
Besides the Island of Mann, it includes some nearby small islands: Calf of Man, Kitterland, Chicken Rock (on which stands an unmanned lighthouse), St Patrick's Isle and St Michael's Isle. Both of the latter are connected to the mainland by permanent roads/causeways. In Douglas Bay there is Conister Rock and a shelter for seamen named The Tower Of Refuge.
Hills in the north and south are separated by a central valley. The extreme north is exceptionally flat, consisting mainly of deposits from glacial advances from western Scotland during colder times.
The Island has one mountain higher than 600 metres (2,000 ft), Snaefell, with a height of 620 metres (2,034 ft). According to an old saying, from the summit one can see six kingdoms: those of Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Heaven. Some versions add a seventh kingdom, that of Northern Ireland or Neptune.
Douglas is situated on the east of the Island near the confluence point of two rivers, the Dhoo (Black) and the Glass (Clear). At Douglas, the rivers flow through the quay and into Douglas Bay. A gently sloping valley runs inland. Hills lie to the north-west and south-east.
Douglas (Manx: Doolish) is the capital and largest town of the Isle of Man, with a population of 26,218 people (2006). It is located at the mouth of the River Douglas, and a sweeping bay of two miles. The River Douglas forms part of the town's harbour and main commercial port.
Douglas is home to the High Courts and the Isle of Man Government and the town serves as the Island's main hub for business, finance, legal services, shipping, transport, shopping, and entertainment.
The Tower of Refuge is a small castle like shelter built upon Conister Rock in Douglas Bay as a sanctuary for shipwrecked sailors. Construction was instigated by Sir William Hillary, founder of the RNLI.
Douglas Head is home to the Camera Obscura which has recently undergone restoration and is open to the public during the summer months. Other artefacts and remnants of Victorian Tourism can still be found on walks around the area.
Horse-drawn trams that run along the promenade from the Sea Terminal to the Manx Electric Railway station from spring to early autumn.
Steam trains run 15 miles from Douglas railway station to Port Erin in the south of the Island.
The Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road marks the start and finish of the annual TT Races and various other motorsports.
The award-winning Manx Museum in Kingswood Grove is a treasure house which contains many of the most important cultural artefacts relating to the Manx nation. Some of the highlights include the Calf of Man Crucifixion Stone, the Pagan Lady's necklace from the Viking excavations at Peel Castle, and the largest collection of Archibald Knox materials. It also houses the National Art Collection, and the National Archives.
The Jubilee clock is a street clock built in 1887 in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign. It is located at the foot of Victoria Street and Loch Promenade. The location also marks one terminus of the Upper Douglas Cable Tramway.
The Castle Mona (formerly the Quality Hotel), a magnificent seaside mansion built by John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl in 1804.
Harris Promenade, Loch Promenade and Central Promenade. A magnificent curving terrace of former boarding houses dating from the 1870’s following the contour of Douglas Bay . The Sunken Gardens on Loch Promenade were created as a result of the widening of the promenade at the turn of the twentieth century.
The Gaiety Theatre was built in 1899 to the designs of architect Frank Matcham, as an opera house and theatre. It was built on the site of the former Pavilion, an entertainment hall that had been constructed six years earlier. The theatre opened on 16 July 1900 with a West End production of The Telephone Girl featuring Ada Blanche. In February 2008, The Gaiety played host to Hollywood movie ‘Me and Orson Welles’, starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes.
Douglas is becoming increasingly renowned as it saw the first architectural essays of the Arts and Crafts architect Baillie Scott.
The breakwater extension which was completed in 1983 was opened by Princess Alexandra and built outside the existing smaller one, which carried a rail-mounted crane.