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Isle of Man
rocky coast and cliffs

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Isle of Man, island pop. 88,000, 572 sq km, off Great Britain, in the Irish Sea. The coast is rocky with precipitous cliffs; the Calf of Man is a detached rocky islet off the southwest coast.

The island's towns include Douglas (the capital), Peel, Ramsey, and Castletown. The rounded hills in the center of the island rise to 620 m at Snaefell. The beautiful scenery and extremely mild climate (subtropical plants are grown without protection) make the island a popular resort.

The people are mainly of Manx (Norse-Celtic) and British descent, Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations), and speak English and Manx Gaelic.

Today's economy relies on offshore banking, financial services, light manufacturing, and tourism. Agriculture and fishing. Nonetheless, oats, barley, turnips, and potatoes are grown, and cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry are raised. Dairying and fishing remain somewhat important, and Manx tweeds are made from local wool.

map Isle of Man Traces of occupants of the isle from Neolithic times exist. Of interest are ancient crosses and other stone monuments, a round tower, an old fort, and castles. Occupied by Vikings in the 9th cent., the island was a dependency of Norway until 1266, when it passed to Scotland. From the 14th to the 18th cent. (except for brief periods when it reverted to the English crown) it belonged to the earls of Salisbury and of Derby. Since 1765, when Parliament purchased it from the Duke of Atholl, the Isle has been a dependency of the crown, but it is not subject to acts of the British Parliament. The Tynwald, the Isle of Man's legislature, is the world's oldest continuous legislative assembly.

Although the island measures only 33 by 13 miles (53 x 22 km), it has a varied landscape with mountains, moorlands, flatlands, forests, and beaches. Attractions range from Peel Castle and Castle Rushen to motorcycle racing and 65 miles of Victorian railroads and tramways. There's even a Home of Rest for Old Horses, a retirement farm for tram horses and other equine elders.

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