The Isle of Wight, known to the ancient Romans as Vectis, is a English county and England's largest and second most populous island. It is located in the English Channel, about 4 mi (6 km) off the coast of Hampshire and is separated from mainland Great Britain by a body of water known as the Solent. The island has several resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.
The history of the Isle of Wight includes a brief period of time as an independent kingdom in the 15th century. Until 1995, like Jersey and Guernsey, the island had a Governor rather than a Lord Lieutenant as the Queen's personal representative.
Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft, and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets. The Isle hosts annual music and cultural festivals including the Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.
The Isle of Wight was part of the county of Hampshire until 1890, when it became an independent administrative county. Until 1974, when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county, it continued to share its Lord Lieutenant with Hampshire. The change in its status gave it its own Lord Lieutenant and it was recognised as a postal county.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Isle of Wight.