Isle of Man
The Isle of Man (Manx: Ellan Vannin) is a substantial island in the Irish Sea, between Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. The capital of the island is Douglas, and other major towns are Ramsey, Peel, Castletown and Port Erin. The central mountain of Snaefell is ascended by a light railway.
A politically distinct entity from the rest of the United Kingdom (technically a British Crown Dependency), it is the site of the oldest continuous parliament in the world, the Tynwald. Queen Elizabeth II, as Lord of Mann, is the titular head of state. The Isle of Man is a socially conservative community and the judicial use of corporal punishment persisted here longer than in any other part of the British Isles, the birch for juvenile offenders being employed until 1976.
The island flag depicts an ancient symbol called the triskelion or tre cassyn, consisting of three legs arranged in a swastika-like manner from a single central hub; a similar symbol is found on the flag of Sicily
- Historically, fishing has been an important island industry, notably for kippers and scallops. There are also a number of fish farms and important research into the captive breeding of turbots was carried out at the laboratory at Port Erin.
- Inland, sheep farming and localised forestry take place.
- The modern Isle of Man is an important tax haven, and hosts a number of sizeable banking and financial operations. In recent years the island has invested in state-of-the-art communications infrastructure to support this sector.
- Tourism is also important, especially at the time of the annual TT Races, when the island is invaded by thousands of motorcyclists.
- Gambling is legal, and there are several major casinos in Douglas.
- Manx cats, a distinctive tailless breed originated here from inbreeding, and are now coveted pets and show animals worldwide.
The Calf of Man, a small island at the southern end of the Isle of Man is a nature reserve and bird observatory. Notable island wildlife includes basking sharks, seals, porpoises, ravens, choughs, and large seabird colonies. The Manx shearwater is named for the island, although today it is rare here.