Geography of the Isle of Man

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Isle of Man
Ellan Vannin  (Manx)
Isle of Man topographic map-en.svg
Topographic map of the Isle of Man
Isle of Man is located in British Isles
Isle of Man
Isle of Man
LocationWestern Europe
Coordinates54°15′N 4°30′W / 54.250°N 4.500°W / 54.250; -4.500Coordinates: 54°15′N 4°30′W / 54.250°N 4.500°W / 54.250; -4.500
ArchipelagoBritish Isles
Adjacent bodies of waterIrish Sea
Area572 km2 (221 sq mi)
Coastline160 km (99 mi)
Highest elevation621 m (2,037 ft)
Highest pointSnaefell
Largest townDouglas (pop. 23,000)
Population79,805 (2006)
Pop. density139.52 /km2 (361.36 /sq mi)
Ethnic groupsManx

The Isle of Man is an island in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland in Western Europe, with a population of almost 85,000. It is a British Crown dependency, it has a small islet, the Calf of Man, to its south. It is located at 54°15′N 4°30′W / 54.250°N 4.500°W / 54.250; -4.500.


Satellite image


Land: 571 km2 (220 sq mi; 57,100 ha)
Water: 1 km2 (0.4 sq mi) (100 ha)
Total: 572 km2 (221 sq mi; 57,200 ha)

This makes it:

Coast and Territorial Sea[edit]

The Isle of Man has a coastline of 160 km (99 mi), and a territorial sea extending to a maximum of 12 nm from the coast, or the midpoint between other countries; the total territorial sea area is about 4000 km2 or 1500 sq miles, which is about 87% of the total area of the jurisdiction of the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man only holds exclusive fishing rights in the first 3 nm; the territorial sea is managed by the Isle of Man Government Department of Infrastructure.

The Raad ny Foillan long distance footpath runs 153 km (95 mi) around the Manx coast.


The Isle of Man enjoys a temperate climate, with cool summers and mild winters. Average rainfall is high compared to the majority of the British Isles, due to its location to the western side of Great Britain and sufficient distance from Ireland for moisture to be accumulated by the prevailing south-westerly winds. Average rainfall is highest at Snaefell, where it is around 1,900 mm (74.8 in) a year. At lower levels it can fall to around 800 mm (31.5 in) a year.

Temperatures remain fairly cool, with the recorded maximum being 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) at Ronaldsway.


Some of the island's mountainous terrain as viewed from Snaefell, the island's highest peak.

The island's terrain is varied. There are two mountainous areas divided by a central valley which runs between Douglas and Peel; the highest point in the Isle of Man, Snaefell, is in the northern area and reaches 620 metres (2,034 ft) above sea level. The northern end of the island is a flat plain, consisting of glacial tills and marine sediments. To the south the island is more hilly, with distinct valleys. There is no land below sea level.

Land use[edit]

  • Arable land: 43.86%
  • Permanent crops: 0%
  • Other: 56.14% (includes permanent pastures, forests, mountain and heathland) (2011)

Natural hazards and environmental issues[edit]

There are few severe natural hazards, the most common being high winds, rough seas and dense fog. In recent years there has been a marked increase in the frequency of high winds, heavy rains, summer droughts and flooding both from heavy rain and from high seas. Snow fall has decreased significantly over the past century while temperatures are increasing year round with rainfall decreasing.

Air pollution, marine pollution and waste disposal are issues in the Isle of Man.

Protected sites for nature conservation[edit]

In order of importance, international first, non-statutory last.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves[edit]

  • The entire territory of the Isle of Man, including all land, sea, freshwater, airspace and seabed is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Ramsar sites[edit]

A view up a glen with Snaefell at the head
  • Ballaugh Curraghs (2006, 183.86 ha (454.33 acres)). Shares an identical boundary to the Ballaugh Curraghs ASSI.

National nature reserves[edit]

Areas of Special Scientific Importance[edit]

There are 21 ASSIs on the Isle of Man as of 01/09/16. One additional ASSI has been rescinded (Ramsey Harbour).

Marine nature reserves[edit]

A marine nature reserve was designated in Ramsey Bay in Oct 2011.[1][2]

Areas of Special Protection[edit]

Bird sanctuaries[edit]

Nature reserves and wildlife sites[edit]

The Isle of Man had 45 non-statutory wildlife sites as of 30 January 2009, covering about 195 ha (0.75 sq miles) of land and an additional 10.5 km (6.5 mi) of inter-tidal coast. The Manx Wildlife Trust also manages 24 nature reserves, along with the Calf of Man, as of September 2016:

Marine no-take zones[edit]


Main article Geology of the Isle of Man

The majority of the island is formed from highly faulted and folded sedimentary rocks of the Ordovician period. There is a belt of younger Silurian rocks along the west coast between Niarbyl and Peel, and a small area of Devonian sandstones around Peel. A band of Carboniferous period rocks underlies part of the northern plain, but is nowhere seen at the surface; however similar age rocks do outcrop in the south between Castletown, Silverdale and Port St Mary. Permo-Triassic age rocks are known to lie beneath the Point of Ayre but, as with the rest of the northern plain, these rocks are concealed by substantial thicknesses of superficial deposits.[4]

The island has significant deposits of copper, lead and silver, zinc, iron, and plumbago (a mix of graphite and clay).[5] There are also quarries of black marble, limestone flags, clay schist, and granite;[6] these are all modern, and there was no noticeable exploitation of metals or minerals prior to the modern era.


The island has a census-estimated population of 84,497 according to the most recent 2011 census: up from 79,805 in 2006 and 76,315 in 2001.

The island's largest town and administrative centre is Douglas, whose population is 23,000 — over a quarter of the population of the island. Neighbouring Onchan, Ramsey in the north, Peel in the west and the three southern ports of Castletown, Port Erin and Port St Mary are the island's other main settlements. Almost all its population lives on or very near the coast.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Re: Ramsey Marine Nature Reserve Zoning Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ L.G. Murray, H. Hinz and M.J. Kaiser, University of Wales, Bangor Marine Fisheries Research Report to DAFF 2007/2008 p. 12
  4. ^ British Geological Survey 1:50,000 scale Special map sheet Isle of Man BGS 2001
  5. ^ Cumming 1861:27–28 Mines
  6. ^ Cumming 1861:28 Quarries