Wight, Isle of
Island and unitary authority (pop., 2001: 132,719), part of the historic county of Hampshire, in the English Channel off the southern coast of England. Separated from mainland Hampshire by the Solent, the island has an area of 147 sq mi (381 sq km). Its main town is Newport. The backbone of the Isle of Wight is a chalk ridge that extends across its entire breadth, the thickest bed of chalk in the British Isles. The Needles are three detached masses of chalk that lie off the island's westernmost point and rise to about 100 ft (30 m). Three rivers, the Eastern Yar, the Medina, and the Western Yar, flow northward into the Solent. A major British maximum security prison is located at Parkhurst. Boatbuilding, marine engineering, and the aerospace, plastics, and electronics industries are economically important. The island's warm, sunny climate has made it a popular vacation spot.
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