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ISSUE 3, JUNE 1999


 History and Heritage

The Island has a rich and fascinating history leading to its present unique character and political situation. It is indeed a very different island with its own laws, its own currency and stamps, its own native tongue, and the world's oldest continuous parliament, Tynwald. It is not and never has been part of the United Kingdom. It is not a member of the European Union but it does enjoy a special relationship whereby goods can be traded freely within the Union whilst having no direct involvement with its finance.

The Island's unique history and heritage is splendidly preserved and explained in 'The Story of Mann'', award-winning displays in many places round the Island created by the Manx Museum and National Trust and Manx National Heritage. The Manx Museum itself, the House of Manannan, Castle Rushen, Peel Castle and Cregneash Village are all particularly well worth visits.


The Isle of Man lies at the centre of the British Isles right in the middle of the Irish Sea, yet it is a truly separate and clearly defined region in both geographic and political terms. It is 227 square miles (572 in area, measuring 33 miles (52 km) from its northernmost tip at the Point of Ayre to the Calf of Man in the south. At its widest point it is 13 miles (22 km) from the east to the West Coast.

In terms of geology and scenery the Isle of Man offers tremendous variety within its small area. Rugged cliffs and magnificent coastal scenery, gently sloping beaches, heather moorland, rich farmland, glorious glens and wooded areas are all easily accessible.

The Island enjoys a temperate climate. Being warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream it escapes extreme weather conditions. Average daytime temperatures in July are 17.6c although a temperature of 28.9c was recorded on July 12th 1983! Other figures for the month of July are - days with some rain - 14, average hours of sunshine - 6.5. It can be quite windy at times, particularly in the winter months.

Island's Economy

In the past the Manx relied heavily on farming and fishing - the traditional basic fare for the majority of Manx people was herrings and potatoes! The last century saw a rapid development in mining for lead, zinc and silver but the mines have long since closed down leaving behind remains such as the Great Laxey Wheel, the world's largest working water wheel, to tell the tale of the industry.

Towards the end of the last century the Island became a very important holiday destination for people in particular from the industrial areas of Northwest England and Scotland. In some years as many as 600,000 visitors arrived and there was a rapid expansion of facilities to enhance the natural attractions of the Island. Over the last 40 years package holidays to warmer climes have changed the nature of Manx tourism.

Now it is the Island's colourful heritage, diverse scenic beauty and its many annual sporting events which provides the draw for tourists.

The Island has long been an area of low taxation enjoying total independence from the United Kingdom in matters of direct taxation. As a result the Island has developed into a flourishing modern-day offshore business centre. Financial services now make a major contribution to the Manx economy as does a steadily growing and varied manufacturing industry sector with over 200 companies successfully operating. The most recent development has been the establishment of a successful film industry. So together farming, fishing, tourism, financial services and manufacturing produce a high level of economic activity, a rapidly rising National Income and an extremely low level of unemployment.

Sports & Leisure

In recent years facilities have improved. There are three public indoor swimming pools in different parts of the island, and the secondary school sports halls are used by the pupils during the day and by members of the community in the evenings and at weekends. Three of the secondary schools have their own all-weather pitches. There are eight excellent golf courses, good harbours and facilities for water based activities such as sailing, sail boarding, sub-aqua and fishing, and the coastal and country footpaths provide excellent walks with superb scenery. The most recent development is the National Sports Centre in Douglas.

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