The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea between Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.
The island is not part of the United Kingdom or European Union, but is a possession of the British Crown with an independent administration. Its inhabitants are British citizens.
The Isle of Man was permanently settled by Celts and fell under Viking control in 1079. The Viking legacy is seen in many place names and the title of the Tynwald parliament, although the Celtic Manx language predominated until the 19th century.
Man passed to the Scottish crown in 1266, and then to the feudal lordship of the Stanley family under the English crown. The British crown acquired the lordship in 1764, but never incorporated the island into the United Kingdom.
Tourism plays a significant role in the economy
The Tynwald parliament was granted autonomy in 1866, and steadily advanced to democracy in step with the United Kingdom. Established no later than 979, it is one of various assemblies that claim to be the oldest parliament in the world. The Tynwald elects the Council of Ministers, presided over since 1986 by a chief minister. Most members of the Tynwald are independents.
Native-born people make up 47.6 per cent of the population, with the rest almost entirely accounted for by immigrants from the United Kingdom. People born in England make up 37.2 per cent alone.
As a Crown Dependency, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom or European Union. The Tynwald passes its own legislation with the assent of the Crown granted in the Privy Council. The Crown is responsible for defence and diplomatic representation, and acts on the advice of the UK Ministry of Justice. The Isle of Man has its own controls on immigration and housing.
The Isle of Man has relatively low taxes and this has encouraged a major offshore financial sector that accounts for most of GDP. Over recent years the Manx government has made a concerted effort to cast off the island's reputation as a tax haven, signing tax information exchange deals with over a dozen countries.
Its strategy was rewarded in April 2009 when it was included in an OECD "white list" of jurisdictions meeting international standards on taxation.
Inclusion in the list came just a few months after British Chancellor Alistair Darling dubbed the island a "tax haven sitting in the Irish Sea". The British government has subsequently praised the island's efforts at improving financial transparency.
Light industry and tourism also play a significant role in the economy, while agriculture and fisheries are steadily losing their significance.
The Manx government has boosted the island as a location for film and TV productions, and more than 80 films have been made there since 1995.
- Territory: The Isle of Man
- Status: UK Crown Dependency
- Population: 80,058
- Capital: Douglas
- Area: 572 sq km (221 sq miles)
- Major languages: English, Manx
- Major religion: Christianity
- Monetary unit: Pound sterling
- Main exports: Agriculture, fisheries
- GNI per capita: $49,310 (World Bank, 2008)
- Internet domain: .im
- International dialling code: +44
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II. Represented by a Lieutenant Governor
Chief minister: Allan Bell
The island's Communications Commission licenses and regulates radio and TV, although the UK's Office of Communications (Ofcom) oversees frequency use.
National public radio station Manx Radio (Radio Vannin, in Manx) is funded by advertising and a government grant.
The Isle of Man was a pioneer of commercial radio in the British Isles, thanks to its local laws. Manx Radio launched in 1964, long before the UK authorities gave the green light to commercial radio. The station carries some programmes in the Manx language.
Plans for a Manx TV station have yet to reach fruition. Services from the UK's national TV and radio broadcasters, including the BBC, are available via local relays.
Isle of Man Newspapers, owned by UK media group Johnston Press, publishes three weeklies.