The Isle of Man is situated in the Irish Sea, half way between Ireland and the United Kingdom, with it's nearest land mass in Scotland.
The island measures 572 sq km ( 221 miles) and has a rocky coastline of 160 km ( 100miles ).
The island is a self governing British Crown dependency, and contrary to popular belief, is not a part of the United Kingdom.
The island has it's own government, currency and even it's own airspace, and during the Summer months, even it's own time zone, as unlike the U.K and Ireland, the Island does not change it's time.
The island relies only on the U.K for defence and a few local service providers, it also has an alliance with the Port of Liverpool and certain trade deals with the U.K.
The Isle of Man government, called The Tynwald, is the oldest continuous government in the world, with it's roots dating back to 979.
It makes it's own laws and is completely independent from any other country, although the Queen of England holds the title of Lord of Man, where she is represented by an island governor.
The island does not belong to the European Union, nor does it belong to the United Nations, preferring to use it's crown dependency with Britian for security purposes.
The island's government holds all competency in domestic matters, including island law and judiciary.
English is the official language of the island, but the language Manx has been synonomous with the island for centuries.
The island has had a community since 6,500 BC, most probably originating from Celtic or Viking settlers, which bought over their own language, leaving the island with a predominantly Gealic speaking ancestry.
The Manx language is therefore derived from ancient Gaelic, or Goideligh, which is related to Scots and Irish Gaelic, but not the same as it is a more pure form of classical Gaelic.
The language is still spoken at government ceremonial duties, and although the language saw a marked decline in the last 30 years, there has become a growing interest in learning to speak it on the island in recent years, with one of the islands's primary schools now having Manx on it's daily curriculum.
All the road signs on the Island are written in both English and Manx, as well as some of the local shop and public house signs.
The Isle of Man three legged symbol is known the world over, and is derived from the island's mythological past.
The symbol is said to have derived from a story from the Celtic Sea God, Manannan Mac Lir, who turned himself into a three legged creature in order to frighten off maurauding invaders.
He sat on a cliff top looking out to sea, when he noticed approaching ships in the distance.He waited for the hostile invaders to land, where upon he turned himself into the Triskellion and flew down the hill knocking over as many as the invaders as he could, thus saving the island from occupation.
The symbol today is synonomous with being able to always keep upright, whichever way we are thrown, we are always on our feet, in other words, ever ready to any adversary.
The symbol is seen everywhere on the island, including on the island's stamps, flag and currency.
The island's industries are centred around offshore banking, tourism and film making, being one of the most regular film sets for the British film industry.
The island is also considered a tax haven by the British rich, with a corporate tax of only 10 %.
The island is also famous for it's two delicacies of Manx kippers and Queen Scollops, of which it has a thriving industry, which are sold mainly to the U.K and are considered to be the best kippers and scollops sold in the country.
THE T.T RACES.
The isle of Man is famous the world over for it's motorcycle T.T races, traditionally held every year in the last week in May.
T.T stands for Tourist Trophy, and it's first ever tournament was in 1907, when the contest was held on a 15 mile ( 21km ) road course around the island.
Today the race is held over a 37 mile ( 60 km ) mountain road course, which consists of 200 bends at an altitude of 1,300 feet ( 396m), situated at the islands highest point at Snaefell.
Considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world, the island is swamped every year from both participants and followers from all over the world, swelling the islands population to tens of thousands, during the week long contest.
This years event - 2012 - is held from May 28 - June 8, and is known nowadays as the T.T Festival.
The same course is also used every year for the Manx Grand Prix, also a motorcycle event, which this year - 2012 - will be held from August the 18th until August the 31st.
The island has a population of just over 80,000 people, with the vast majority ( 26,000) of them living in the island's capital, Douglas.
The population is made up of a 50 / 50 ratio of native born Manx people and British ex - pats, of whom many live on the island as tax exiles.
The people of Man have their own passport, a variant of the British passport, which is written, British Island - Isle Of Man.
The island is completely self sufficient, other than military, and the island runs all of it's own public services, healthcare, education, infrastructure and construction.
The island consists of 688 miles of roadway, and has it's own airport and seaport situated in it's capital,which has regular flights to Liverpool in the U.K and regular sailings to Liverpol and Belfast and Dublin, in Ireland.
The island runs it's own newspaper and radio media, and has access to digital T.V, mobile phones and internet.
It caters to a large tourist industry, particularly during T.T and Grand Prix weeks and with it's regular ferry service, caters to many day trippers from Liverpool and Dublin during the Summer months.
Although the towns on Man are tiny in comparison to mainland U.K towns, they hold a wealth of interesting local, historical and cultural venues.
The island is home to the world's largest water wheel, the Lady Isobella situated in the village of Laxey. The Lady Isobella was built in 1854 and has a diameter of seventy two feet.
Also situated at Laxey is the United Kingdom's only electric mountain railway, which travels for five miles from Laxey to the top of the island's highest point, Snaefell, which sits at an elevation of 2,036 feet.
The island's capital, Douglas, is home to the world's oldest, continuously in use, horse drawn tram, the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway.The trams have served the 1.6 miles of the Douglas Bay promenade since May 1876.
The island is a haven of Celtic architecture, with many ancient symbols of Celtic religions and ancient castles and churches.
The island is also famous for it's beautiful beaches and it's tourist activities include water sports, hiking trails, fishing trips and cycling.
The island also hosts a 15 mile ( 24 km ) narrow gauge steam railway, once a thriving and much larger network than today, which is used regularly by both tourists and locals alike, between the capital Douglas and the southern resort town of Port Erin.
The island hosts a wealth of hotels and bed and breakfast establishments as well as several camping and caravanning facilities.
THE LOAGHTAN SHEEP.
The island has it's own indiginous breed of sheep, the Loaghtan ( ovis aries ).
It is classified as a Rare Breed, and is recognised for it's unusual brown coloured coat and for having six horns, which grow both straight and curly.
There are at present 1,500 breeding ewes on the island, which the island authorities are continually working hard at preserving and keeping safe from any outside elements that may put the animals in danger of any illness that could result in the breed's extinction.
THE MANX CAT
Another animal breed which originated on the Isle of Man is the Manx Cat.
The Manx Cat is a tailless breed of cat which is descended from the common, domestic cat, which became a recognised breed during the late 1800's.
Their tailless condition is caused by a dominant gene which causes a naturally occuring mutation of the spine, which became common due to limited genetic diversity on the island.
Other traits of the Manx Cat include elongated rear legs and very round heads. They come in all colours, with predominantly medium or long haired fur and they can be completely tailless or have just a short stump.
Due to their long, back legs and short, stumpy tail, some urban myths have stated that the Manx Cat was the product of a cat breeding with a rabbit, but this has been found to be genetically impossible.
FOR MORE ISLE OF MAN INFORMATION, VISIT -
OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THE BRITISH ISLES BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
© D.B.Bellamy. April 2010.
All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.