A Brief Guide to Ellan Vannin

Alex Mellon / © Culture Trip
Alex Mellon / © Culture Trip
Photo of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor13 April 2018

Sandwiched between Great Britain and Ireland is the Isle of Man, or Ellan Vannin, as the Manx locals refer to it. It may be small but it has a culture and history that goes back thousands of years.


The Isle of Man is an island that sits in the Irish Sea, nearly equidistant from Northern Ireland to the west, Scotland to the north, England to the east and Wales to the south. It has a much smaller island, called the Calf of Man, just off its southwest coast.


The rise in sea levels in approximately 8500 BC that split Great Britain from mainland Europe also split the Isle of Man from Britain. The Manx language has strong Gaelic influences due to Irish migration to the island, which was then followed by Viking rule for the best part of 500 years until it was handed over to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth in 1266. Edward Longshanks took the island back for the English in 1290 and it switched back and forth between the hands of the English and Scottish, including Robert the Bruce taking it in 1313 until 1346, when the English finally defeated Scotland. Despite England, and latterly Great Britain’s rule, the island’s Tynwald government continued to pass its own laws.

Over the course of the 20th century, the Manx approach to promoting the island has been heavily focused around its status as a tax haven. In the second half of the 20th century there has been a steady rise in Manx nationalism and, today, the Isle of Man has its own flag, currency, stamps, Manx politcal parties and a Manx language primary school.

Ellan Vannin are competing at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup, here’s everything you need to know about the tournament.

Political status:

The Isle of Man is a self-governing crown dependency. It has its own parliament (Tynwald) and government, which is responsible for domestic policy. Tynwald is made up of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council, with the former consisting of elected officials. It was first established in the 8th century when under Viking influence and claims to be one of the oldest parliamentary systems in the world.

It is possible to be a citizen of the Isle of Man, although it still falls within British citizenship internationally. Isle of Man citizens don’t, however, have exactly the same rights as British citizens because the Isle of Man isn’t a member of the European Union.


Roughly two-thirds of the population are of British descent, with smaller populations of Manx and Irish, as well as South African, Australian and American minorities. The island’s established religion is the Church of England. The population (last recoded in 2012) was just under 84,000 and has grown slowly since the 1950s.


  • Population: 84,000 approx.
  • Capital: Douglas
  • Major languages: English, Manx
  • Currency: British pound, Manx pound
  • Major religions: Church of England