Bluffers' Briefing: The Isle of Man

Derivation: Perhaps from Ellan Mannin, the middle island.

Dimensions: 32.5 miles long, 13.5 miles wide, 227 sq miles in area.

Population: 70,000 (approx).

Significance of the three-legged emblem: Quocunque jeceris stabit.

In plain English: Wherever you throw it, it stands.

Last time a criminal was birched: 1975.

Reason given by Manx MP for keeping birching on statute book: 'We are sending out a clear message to the world that we believe in law and order.'

Description of birching by European Court of Human Rights in 1976: 'Cruel and unusual'.

Requirements for birch: 40-inch lengths of birch twigs.

Year of abolition of hanging: 1993.

Year of legalisation of homosexual acts by consenting adults in private: 1992.

Word for 'homosexuality' in Manx Gaelic: homocheintys.

Other useful phrases: Moghrey mie (Good morning), Ta my phoggaid follym (I am out of cash).

Level of personal income tax: Two bands of 15 per cent and 20 per cent.

Useful fact: There are more runic inscriptions to be found in the Isle of Man than in the whole of Norway.

Another useful fact: It is the location of the only town called Andreas in the British Isles.