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Isle of Wight
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Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight
Status: Ceremonial & Unitary County
Region: South East England
- Total
- District
Ranked 46th
380 km²
Ranked 122nd
Admin HQ: Newport
ONS code: 00MW
- Total (2002 est.)
- Density
- District
Ranked 46th
355 / km²
Ranked 126th
Ethnicity: 98.7% White
(in detail)
(in detail)
Motto: All this beauty is of God
Isle of Wight Council
Executive: Liberal Democrat & Independents
MP: Andrew Turner
The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England opposite Southampton.

Its population was 132,731 in the 2001 census (and 126,600 in 1991). The island has a single MP (currently Andrew Turner), and is therefore the most populated constituency in the UK.

It is approximately diamond in shape and covers an area of 147 square miles (381 square km). The terrain is chalk downland. The River Medina flows north into the Solent. The south coast adjoins the English Channel.

The Isle of Wight, along with the adjoining regions of Hampshire and Kent, was invaded and settled in the late fourth century onwards by the Jutes, who (some believe) became victims of a policy of ethnic cleansing by the West Saxons. Today, the Isle of Wight is rich in historical and archŠological sites dating from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Saxon periods onwards.

Traditionally part of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight was included in that county when the first county councils were created in 1888. However, a "Home Rule" campaign led to a separate county council being established for the Isle of Wight in 1890.

It was planned to merge the county back into Hampshire as a district in the 1974 local government reform, but a last minute change led to it retaining its county council. However, since there was no provision made in the Local Government Act 1972 for unitary authorities, the Isle had to retain a two-tier structure, with a county council and two boroughs, Medina and South Wight.

The borough councils were merged with the county council on April 1, 1995, to form a single unitary authority.

Known to residents simply as The Island, the main form of access is either by boat or hovercraft from the mainland, regular ferry services being available from Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth. The island is also served by airports for light aircraft at Bembridge and Sandown.

Because of its accessibility and closeness to the mainland, the Isle of Wight is a popular destination for British holidaymakers, especially the seaside towns of Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, Freshwater and Yarmouth, as well as other smaller towns and villages in different parts of the island.

The island has one of Britain's shortest railways, Island Line, running some 8½ miles from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin down the eastern side of the island. The route is served by old London Underground trains dating from 1938, and reportedly has the best service record of any British train company.

The main annual event is the world-famous international sailing regatta, Cowes Week, which is held every August and attracts over a hundred thousand visitors to the island. Other major sailing events are held at Cowes, including the Admirals Cup in July and the Commodores' Cup in August.

A large rock festival took place near Tennyson Down, West Wight in 1970, following two smaller concerts in 1968 and 1969. The festival was revived in 2002. For a history of the festival see: http://www.isleofwightfestival.com

In 1904 a mysterious illness began to kill honeybee colonies on the island, and had nearly wiped out all hives by 1907 when the disease jumped to the mainland, and decimated beekeeping in the British Isles. Called the Isle of Wight Disease, the cause of the mystery ailment was not identified until 1921 when a tiny parasitic mite, Acarapis woodi was first described by J. Rennie. The mite inhabited the tracheae of individual bees, and greatly shortened their lifespan, causing eventual death of the colony. The disease (now called Acarine Disease) frightened many other nations because of the importance of bees in pollination. Laws against importation of honeybees were passed, but this merely delayed the eventual spread of the parasite to the rest of the world.

The principal towns on the island are:

Other places of interest include:

Famous residents (past and present) include:

Literary references: Musical reference: Technology:

External links

A page about Island Line

Isle Of Wight County Press

The Island by local photographers

The Jutes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Were the West Saxons guilty of ethnic cleansing?

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