Isle of Man
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. With an area of 572 km² (221 square miles) and a population of around 76,315 (2001 Census) it has the "Oldest Continuous Parliament in the World" - the Tynwald - supposedly founded in 979. Although the millennium of Tynwald was celebrated in 1979, the actual founding date may be earlier.
The Isle of Man formed a Viking outpost/kingdom from circa 700 A.D. to 900 A.D., and part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century when it was ceded to Scotland. The island came under the British crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the once almost-extinct Manx language.
The Isle of Man has for centuries been represented by an 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, are rotationally symmetric. Some run clockwise, others counter clockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12 o'clock, 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 are directly related to the Island's motto - Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, which translates to Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand. This is often interpreted as indicating stability and robustness in the Manx character. The motto is commonly adapated by many schools on the Island to promote perserverence and hard work.
Main article: Government of the Isle of Man
It is a common misconception 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. Man is a British Crown dependency; the political party Mec Vannin advocates the establishment of Man as a sovereign republic. The Isle of Man is neither a member nor an associate member of the European Union, but is part of the customs territory of the union, allowing it to trade freely with EU members.
Main article: Geography of the Isle of Man
The centre of the island is dominated by the mountain Snaefell (621m), from the summit of which it is possible, according to an old saying, to see five kingdoms: the kingdom of Man, that of England, that of Scotland, that of Ireland and the kingdom of Heaven.
Main article: Economy of the Isle of Man
Offshore banking, manufacturing, and tourism are 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 paid off in expanding employment opportunities in high-income industries. As a result, agriculture and fishing, once the mainstays of the economy, have declined in their shares of GDP. Banking and other services now contribute the great bulk of GDP. Trade is mostly with the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man has access to European Union markets.
Main article: Demographics of the Isle of Man
Main article: Culture of the Isle of Man