Who Does Guernsey Belong To?

Overlooking Saint Peter Port on Guernsey Island.
Overlooking Saint Peter Port on Guernsey Island.

The United Kingdom has three Crown dependencies; the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. The Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey form the Channel Islands, sitting west of the Cotentin Peninsula in the English Channel. The Isle of Man sits in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The three Bailiwicks are not part of the United Kingdom, but neither are they independent from the UK. Instead, they are self-governing territories of the crown. The island of Guernsey is the main island of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Bailiwick of Guernsey

Bailiwick of Guernsey is composed of three sub-jurisdictions off the coast of Normandy (northern France) in the English Channel; Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney. The Guernsey jurisdiction is comprised of the island of Guernsey together with several smaller nearby islands. The Sark jurisdiction is comprised of the island of Sark and the island of Brecqhou. The Alderney jurisdiction is comprised of solely the island of Alderney. Each sub-jurisdiction has its own elected government. The Bailiwick of Guernsey covers 78 sq km (30 sq mi) with about 50 km (31 mi) of coastlines. The swift currents, tidal ranges, and small islets and rocks make navigating the waters around the Bailiwick of Guernsey quite treacherous.

The Guernsey Sub-Jurisdiction

The island of Guernsey sits north of French port of Saint-Malo and west of the island of Jersey. The sub-jurisdiction of Guernsey is composed of 10 parishes on the island of Guernsey as well as the neighboring inhabited island of Herm and several smaller uninhabited island and islets. The islands of Herm and Jethou are located just east of Guernsey while Lihou is located just west of Guernsey.

The Guernsey sub-jurisdiction has a population of 63,026 people and covers 71 sq km (27 sq mi) with a 46 km (29 mi) long coastline. The islands experience an oceanic climate with summer highs reaching 24 °C (75 °F) and winter lows reaching 6 °C (43 °F). Rain and clouds are common during the winter months while peak sunshine hits in July.

The Guernsey sub-jurisdiction is a parliamentary representative democracy. The head of the government is the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey who was previously appointed by the Crown but as of 2010 is recommended by a Guernsey panel. Since its creation in 1835, the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey, although not a local resident, has resided on the island after the appointment.

Island of Guernsey

Guernsey Island has a population of about 63,000 people and an area of 65 km2 (25 sq mi) with a population density of 965/km2 (2,499/sq mi). The island is reachable through the Guernsey Airport as well as the St Peter Port and St Sampson. The island has a public bus service. The town of St Peter Port is the capital of Guernsey and the island’s main port. The town hosts a population of 18,207 residents. The island has been a tourist hub since the Victorian era. During the summer, the island receives over 100 cruise ships letting off over 100,000-day trip passengers. Guernsey is part of the Common Travel Area, an open border area including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

Island of Herm

Herm has a population of about 60 people and covers 2 sq km (0.77 sq mi) meaning the island has a population density of 30/km2 (78/sq mi). The island has a small primary school, a hotel, a pub, and a chapel along with several other buildings. The island is reached by ferry and sees up to 100,000 tourists during the summer season. Cars and bicycles are banned from the island.


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