Introduction 

The Isle of Man is approximately 32 miles long by 13 miles wide (or 51 km long by 21 km wide). The population is 75,000. The island is located in the middle of the Irish Sea, roughly equistant from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Nowhere is far from the sea. There are some nice shaded, wooded glens to walk through. In the centre of the island is Snaefell, the Isle of Man's only mountain. The buildings in Douglas and the other towns are mainly Victorian, dating from when the island attracted many summer holidaymakers from the UK.

Government

The Isle of Man is NOT part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. Instead, it is a British Crown Dependency with a large measure of internal self-government. The Queen is formally represented by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man, but in practice governance is vested in the Isle of Man Government, headed by the Chief Minister. The Isle of Man Government is accountable to Tynwald - the Manx Parliament (with two houses - the Legislative Council (upper house) and the House of Keys (lower house)). Members of the House of Keys are directly elected by Manx people aged 16 or over - one of the lowest voting ages in the world.

The British Government is responsible for defence and foreign affairs, but almost all other matters (including immigration) are a matter for the Isle of Man Government. Website: www.gov.im

The Isle of Man flag is the famous (and ancient) three legs symbol on a red background.

Post, telephones and money

The Isle of Man has its own postal service (only Manx stamps can be used - British stamps are not valid). The Isle of Man also has its own coins and banknotes (in Sterling), but British coins and banknotes are equally accepted. The Isle of Man has its own mobile phone system separate from the UK (with good roaming coverage) - different charges may apply.

Health care

The Isle of Man has a reciprocal agreement with the UK, allowing free health care in National Health Service hospitals for UK and Manx residents. UK residents are thus covered for health care in eaxactly the same way as if they were in the UK.

Transport to/from the Isle of Man

There are year-round air and sea links. The Isle of Man Airport is at Ronaldsway (between Castletown and Ballasalla - to the south of Douglas). There are bus links between the Airport and Douglas and Castletown.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operates the year-round ferry service between Douglas and Heysham (Lancashire, England). There are also additional seasonal services to/from Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast.

Transport on the Isle of Man

Getting around is straightforward.  By car it is easy to navigate the roads and the Island also has an excellent bus service. All the major tourist attractions can be reached by bus. Car hire is easily available, especially at the Sea Terminal in Douglas or at Ronaldsway Airport.

The Isle of Man is internationally famous for its historic narrow gauge railways and tramways (which operate annually from mid Spring until mid Autumn only). The Isle of Man Railway is steam operated; it runs between Douglas, Ballasalla, Castletown and Port Erin. The Manx Electric Railway is one of the world's oldest electric tramways (still with the original Victorian trams); it runs between Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey. The Snaefell Mountain Railway links with the MER at Laxey; it runs from Laxey to the summit of Snaefell. The Groudle Glen Railway is a small, steam railway in Groudle Glen (north of Douglas). Douglas has its famous horse drawn trams along the Promenade.