The Isle of Wight , known to the ancient Romans as Vectis, is a county and the largest and second most populous island of England. It is located in the English Channel, about off the coast of Hampshire and is separated from mainland Great Britain by the Solent. The island has several resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.
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 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 Hampshire until 1890, when it became an independent administrative county. Until 1974 it continued to share its Lord Lieutenant with Hampshire, when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county which gave it its own Lord Lieutenant and was recognised as a postal county.
History of the Isle of Wight