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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 05:19 GMT
Isle of Man: profile
The Isle of Man is a tiny speck of land in the Irish Sea which is proud of its autonomy from the United Kingdom.

It is 33 miles (52km) long and 13 miles (22km) wide and has a smaller island, the Calf Of Man, off its southern tip.

The island's distant past is steeped in the influence of the Vikings, who plundered and later settled on the island hundreds of years ago.

In the 13th century the kings of the Isle of Man claimed dominion over the Western Isles of Scotland and the Manx symbol - the three legs - dates from that time.

In 1405 King Henry IV gave the Isle of Man to Sir John Stanley on condition he paid homage and gave two Peregrine falcons to every future King of England on his Coronation Day.

Main towns
Douglas (population 23,487)
Onchan (8, 656)
Ramsey (6,874)
Peel (3,819)
Port Erin (3,218)
Castletown (2,958)
Sir John's descendants ruled as Kings or Lords of Mann for 360 years.

Nowadays the island is a self-governing dependent territory of the British Crown.

It is not part of the UK but is a member of the Commonwealth.

The island has one of the oldest parliaments in the world. The Tynwald was founded 1,000 years ago.

Members of the House of Keys (MHKs), who sit at the Tynwald, make laws administering everything except defence and foreign affairs, which are decided by the UK Government.

The Isle of Man has a high standard of living

The Manx Government makes an annual payment for defence and foreign policy.

The island is an established low tax area which attracts many offshore banks and wealthy residents.

There is low corporate and personal tax and no capital transfer or inheritance tax.

The island prints its own money but the Manx pound is linked to sterling.

The financial sector is the largest employer on the island, followed by agriculture, tourism, fishing and e-commerce.

Manx Government
Head of State: The Queen
Lieutenant Governor: Air Marshal Ian Macfadyen
President of Tynwald: Noel Cringle
Every June the island's economy is boosted by an influx of tourists coming to watch the annual TT motorbike races.

The island has ferry links to England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and there are flights from Ronaldsway airport to various airports in the UK, including London City, Gatwick, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Blackpool.

There are no restrictions on access to the island from the UK.

But those who are not indigenous Manx have to obtain a work permit before starting work on the island, unless they are doing certain jobs such as doctors, dentists and police officers.

The island's total population is 76,315, which has grown 9.4% since 1991.


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