The Isle of Man lies in the Irish Sea and is located between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The island is a self-governing crown dependency that belongs neither to the United Kingdom nor the European Union. It governs itself and has its own parliament, laws, cuisine, and traditions. However, the Isle of Man depends on the UK in the areas of foreign affairs, defense, and ultimate good-governance. This kingdom has a Celtic and Viking Heritage that is reflected in its culture and in the Irish-like language, Manx, which is spoken by its residents. Tourists today are attracted to the Isle for its nature reserves, birdwatching, and motor racing.
Geographically, the Isle of Man consists of the main island, as well as the partially inhabited islands of Chicken Rock, St Patrick’s Isle, and the Calf of Man. This kingdom of 80,000 encompasses an area of just over 220 square miles. Hills dominate the north and south, while the central region is interrupted by a valley.
The island is famous for its motorsport events, including the annual TT Races (Tourist Trophy) held in the summer. Motorcycling competitors all over the world come to race around a circuit on the island’s roads. The island also has several other races and rallies during the summer, including the Manx International Car Rally, Manx National Car Rally, Manx Classic (for vintage cars), and the International Hill Climb Championships. The circuits navigate through varied terrain, giving the races an added challenge and excitement.
The Isle of Man has some charming narrow-gauge railways, including the Manx Electric Railway which connects Laxey with Douglas and the Steam Railway, which runs from Port Erin to Douglas. The Snaefell Mountain Railway climbs up to the island’s central peak at 2,035 feet high. Another alternative leisure commute is the famous horse-drawn trams of Douglas; they run along the seafront.
The island has some nice scenery painted by 17 national glens, the Snaefell mountains, the south coast bays, and a mosaic of grasslands, moorlands, marshes, towering cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, quiet coves, flower meadows, and sand dunes; these natural features encompass the more than 20 nature reserves scattered throughout the island. If you visit the Ayres Nature reserve, Curraghs Wildlife Park, and Poyll Dooey Wetlands and Nature Trails, you’ll find a diverse range of bird species – more than 100 – that includes hen harriers, short-eared owls, peregrines, puffins, and Manx shearwaters.
For historic sites, visit the Peel Castle in Peel, which was originally built by the Vikings in the 11th century, and the Castle Rushen in Castletown, a 13th century castle built for the Norse ruler, King Magnus III.
The climate in the Isle of Man is temperate. Summers are cool and winters are mild thanks to the Gulf Stream. Rainfall is high, averaging about 75 inches of rain (1.9 meters) in the mountainous regions and about 31 inches (0.8 meters) in the lower altitudes.
The Isle of Man has been inhabited since the end of the ice age 10,000 years ago. The island was first settled by the Celts in the early centuries of the first millennium. At the end of the eighth century, Vikings began raiding the island, eventually displacing the Celts and establishing the Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles in 1079 AD. In 1266, Norway’s King Magnus VI ceded the isles to Scotland. In the 14th century, the English took control of the Isle of Man and in 1765, the isles became part of the British Crown. Since 1866, the Isle of Man has enjoyed the least nominal “Home Rule”. The kingdom’s residents are prosperous, thriving on a booming tourist industry and attracting businesses with its tax haven status.