Friday, August 5, 2016

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is an island in the Irish Sea located between Ireland and the UK.  The island is 572 km² (32 miles²); almost three times the size of Washington, DC.  It is home to just over 88,000 people.  The capital, and largest city, is Douglas.

The Isle of Man, called Ellan Vannin in Manx, is self-governing crown dependency.  While its inhabitants are British citizens, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union.

The UK is responsible for defence and diplomatic affairs.  As a Crown dependency Queen Elizabeth II holds the title of Lord of Man and is represented locally by a Lieutenant Governor.  The Chief Minister is elected by the Tynwald - local parliament.  The Tynwald is one of the world's oldest continuous governing bodies.

The Isle of Man was settled by the Celts around the 5th century and came under Viking control in 1079.  In 1266 it became part of Scotland and came under the English Crown in 1399.  In 1866, it obtained some measure of Home Rule and never became part of the UK.

Since it is not part of the UK, but its people are British citizens, the passports are a bit different.  The cover page doesn't say "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island" or "European Union".  Instead, it says "British Islands - Isle of Man" on the cover.

Although it enjoys free access to EU markets, it isn't part of the EU, so they didn't get to vote on the UK leaving the EU.

English is the official language and Manx Gaelic became official in 1985.  While the last native Manx speaker died in 1974 the government has been trying to revive the language.  Manx is closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic but the languages are not mutually understandable.  Only about 2% of the population has any knowledge of it.

£1 IOM note; £1 UK coin
The Isle of Man has its own money.  The Manx Pound is at parity with the UK's Pound Sterling.  The British Pound is accepted everywhere but the Manx Pound is not accepted in the UK.  For some reason there is a £1 note and a £1 coin.

£10 IOM note on top; £10 UK note below
In a couple of weeks I'll be working a week in the Dublin office.  It's only about a 30 minute flight from Dublin to the Isle of Man so the plan is to spend a weekend in Douglas.

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