The Isle of Wight is an island and county five miles (8 km) off the southern coast of England. It is easily and quickly accessible by multiple sea routes from the mainland cities of Southampton and Portsmouth. The island has long been an excellent place for an upmarket but traditional seaside holiday, with beaches and towns that were very popular in Victorian times. It has become a must-visit destination for young people seeking watersports and outdoor activities generally. Cowes is a famous yachting centre and attracts the 'London set' together with members of the worldwide sailing fraternity during Cowes Week in August. The island has a similar atmosphere to Guernsey or Jersey yet is much closer to the mainland and is three times the size. It has a population of 138,000. Despite being only 6 miles (10 km) across the sea from Portsmouth and 15 miles (25 km) from Southampton it is a world apart in terms of scenery, culture and pace of life. Known as "England In Miniature" it offers an incredible variety with the landscape changing dramatically in the space of a few miles and each town and village offering something different. Beaches are fantastic and the water quality is good.
Historically the local economy has moved from being dependent on smuggling and farming to tourism with the coming of the railways. There is also considerable light engineering and yacht building.
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