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Just a stone's throw from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, the Isle of Man occupies a mighty 227 square miles in the Irish Sea. Though awfully close to its larger neighbours, the island kingdom is unique. It boasts the world's oldest continuous parliament, Tynwald, a relic of the island's Scandinavian influence. A further sign of the island’s proud heritage is the revival of Manx, a local form of Gaelic which died away in the 18th century.
For the traveller, the Isle of Man is culturally fascinating. The fact that almost half of the island is unpopulated also adds to the appeal, as vast stretches of open countryside offer wonderful opportunities for avid walkers. For those less inclined to use their legs quite so much, the harbour-side capital of Douglas is the perfect place for a relaxing getaway.
The Isle of Man became separated from Britain and Ireland by about 8000 BC. It appears that colonisation took place by sea sometime before 6,500 BC. The Neolithic Period marked the coming of knowledge of farming, better stone tools and pottery. During the Bronze Age, the large communal tombs of the Megaliths were replaced with smaller burial mounds. Bodies were put in stone lined graves along with ornamental containers. The Bronze Age burial mounds created long lasting markers about the countryside. The Iron Age marked the beginning of Celtic cultural influence. Around AD 700 it is assumed that Irish invasion or immigration formed the basis of the early Manx population. This is evident in the change in language used in Ogham inscriptions. Manx Gaelic remains closely related to Irish and Scots Gaelic. Viking settlement of the Isle of Man began at the end of the 8th century. Although the Manx language does contain Norse influences, they are few. During Viking times, the islands of this kingdom were called the Súðreyjar or Sudreys ("southern isles") in contrast to the Norðreyjar ("northern isles") of Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.
In 1266, as dictated in the Treaty of Perth, Norway's King Magnus VI ceded the isles to Scotland. The Isle of Man came under English control in the 14th century. During this period the Isle was dominated by the Stanley family, who also held the title of Earl of Derby, who had been given possession of Man by King Henry IV. In 1703 the Act of Settlement secured peasant rights and marked the beginning of a move away from feudal government. In 1765, however, the British Crown secured a greater control over the island, without incorporating it into Great Britain, laying the grounds for the island's status as a Crown dependency. In 1866 greater autonomy was restored to the island's parliament and a full transition to democracy began. The Isle quickly developed as a finance centre and tourist destination, becoming increasingly prosperous during the 20th century. During both the First and Second World Wars the island was used as a location for internment camps for Central Powers and Axis citizens and suspected sympathisers, respectively.
The Isle of Man is located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, approximately equidistant from the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The closest land is southern Scotland. 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 mi). Besides the island of Mann itself, the political unit of the Isle of Man includes some nearby small islands: the seasonally inhabited Calf of Man, 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. 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. There are more recently deposited shingle beaches at the Point of Ayre. The island has one mountain higher than 600 metres (2,000 ft), Snaefell, with a height of 620 metres (2,034 ft).
The Isle of Man is divided into six administrative districts, called sheadings.
As well as the main island of Man itself, several small islands are included in the Isle of Man. These are the Calf of Man, Chicken Rock and St Patrick's Isle.
The people of the Isle of Man have uniquely and painstakingly maintained their rail network as it was at the turn of the (19th) century. The Island can be explored travelling on the Isle of Man Steam Railway (1873), the Manx Electric Railway (1893) and the Snaefell Mountain Railway (1895).
The waters around the island provide an ideal environment for basking sharks. Sharks can sometimes be seen from the beaches around Peel.
Once home to a thriving community based around the mining and textiles industries, the village of Laxey offers the modern visitor an insight into the 19th Century. As well as exploring the reconstructed mine it's possible to view the iconic Laxey Wheel, the largest working waterwheel in the world.
An important historical monument in an attractive location on St Patrick's Isle, Peel. Some parts of the structure date from the 11th Century.
The highest point on the Isle of Man, at 2,036 feet. On a very clear day it's possible to see England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland from the summit.
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Isle of Man has a typical maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. June to September is summer season with temperatures between 16 °C and 20 °C and nights around 10 °C. Winters are still above zero, even at night, though frost is not unheard of. The highest and lowest temperatures possible are around 28 °C and around -5 °C. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with autumn and winter being the wettest time and spring being the driest month. May is the driest and most sunny month of the year.
Isle of Man Airport (IATA: IOM, ICAO: EGNS), located 11 kilometres southwest of the capital Douglas, is the main gateway to the country. Manx2 is based here and has flights to Blackpool, Leeds, Jersey, Nottingham, Gloucester and Belfast.
Other airlines flying into this airport include Aer Arann (from Dublin), Blue Islands (Jersey, Guernsey), Eastern Airways (Birmingham, Newcastle), Flybe (Birmingham, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton), Loganair (Edinburgh, Glasgow), VLM (London).
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company run a regular service from Heysham, near Lancaster (England), and a slightly less frequent service from Larne, (Northern Ireland). There also are services to and from Belfast, Liverpool and Dublin.
Train is an interesting way to travel in the Isle of Man with three historic rail lines - the Isle of Man Steam Railway (1873), the Manx Electric Railway (1893) and the Snaefell Mountain Railway (1895) - all maintained by the Isle of Man Transport Authority.
The island's towns are connected by a well-maintained road network. Manx roads are particularly popular with motorcyclists, partly due to the success of the Isle of Man TT race.
Although technically not part of the UK (nor EU), the entry requirements are the same. Passport holders of members countries of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland have the right of free movement and residence in the UK.
European Economic Area: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.
For all other nationals, entry clearance (visa) may or may not be required for visiting the UK.
Nationals from the following countries do not require entry clearance (visa) for a stay of three or six months:
Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Caymen Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, East Timor, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Faroes, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Korea (South), Macau (SAR), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City.
Visa nationals are required to apply for entry clearance before entering the UK.
For the latest visa requirements, visa application guides and other immigration matters, refer to the UK Border Agency Visa Services.
See also: Money Matters
The currency of Isle of Man is the pound sterling with the international currency code GBP (Great Britain Pound). The currency sign for pound is £ (the symbol is derived from the letter L). It is also known to the locals as quid (both singular and plural), which a slang term, so you might hear people say "two quid" instead of two pounds. One pound is divided into 100 pence (singular: penny).
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See also: Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Isle of Man.
See also: Travel Safety
See also: International Telephone Calls
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