(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Dukedom of Normandy, which held sway in both France and England. The islands were the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II. Guernsey is a British crown dependency, but is not part of the UK. However, the UK Government is constitutionally responsible for its defense and international representation.|
|History||Rising sea levels transformed Guernsey first into the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the emergent English Channel, then, around 6000 BC, into an island when it and other promontories were cut off from continental Europe.
At this time, Neolithic farmers settled the coasts and created the dolmens and menhirs that dot the islands. The island of Guernsey contains three sculpted menhirs of great archaeological interest; the dolmen known as L’Autel du Dehus also contains a dolmen deity known as Le Gardien de Tombeau.
During their migration to Brittany, the Britons occupied the Lenur Islands (former name of the Channel Islands including Sarnia or Lisia (Guernsey) and Angia (Jersey). It was formerly thought that the Island’s original name was Sarnia, but recent research indicates that may have been the Latin name for Sark; although Sarnia remains the island’s traditional designation. Coming from the Kingdom of Gwent, Saint Sampson (abbot of Dol, in Brittany) is credited with the introduction of Christianity to Guernsey.
In 933 the islands, formerly under the control of the kingdom, then Duchy of Brittany were annexed by the Duchy of Normandy. The island of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy. In the islands, Elizabeth II’s traditional title as head of state is Duke of Normandy.
During the Middle Ages the island was repeatedly attacked by French pirates and naval forces, especially during the Hundred Years War when the island was occupied by the French on several occasions, the first being in 1339.
In 1372 the island was invaded by Aragonese mercenaries under the command of Owain Lawgoch (remembered as Yvon de Galles), who was in the pay of the French king. Lawgoch and his dark-haired mercenaries were later absorbed into Guernsey legend as an invasion by fairies from across the sea.
During the English Civil War, Guernsey sided with Parliament, while Jersey remained Royalist. Guernsey’s decision was mainly related to the higher proportion of Calvinists and other Reformed churches, as well as Charles I’s refusal to take up the case of some Guernsey seamen who had been captured by the Barbary corsairs. The allegiance was not total, however, there were a few Royalist uprisings in the Southwest of the island, while Castle Cornet was occupied by the Governor, Sir Peter Osbourne, and Royalist troops. Castle Cornet was the last Royalist stronghold to capitulate, in 1651.
During the wars with France and Spain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Guernsey shipowners and sea captains exploited their proximity to mainland Europe, applying for Letters of Marque and turning their merchantmen into privateers.
The nineteenth century saw a dramatic increase in prosperity of the island, due to its success in the global maritime trade, and the rise of the stone industry. One notable Guernseyman, William Le Lacheur, established the Costa Rican coffee trade with Europe.
During World War I approximately 3,000 island men served in the British Expeditionary Force. Of these, about 1,000 served in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry regiment which was formed from the Royal Guernsey Militia in 1916.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey was occupied by German troops in World War II. Before the occupation, many Guernsey children were evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never re-united with their families. During the occupation, some people from Guernsey were deported by the Germans to camps in the southwest of Germany, notably to Biberach an der Riß and interned in the Lindele Camp (“Lager Lindele”). There was also a concentration camp built in Alderney where forced labourers, predominantly from Eastern Europe, were kept. It was the only concentration camp built on British soil and is commemorated on memorials under the Alderney’s name in French: ‘Aurigny’.
Guernsey was very heavily fortified during World War II out of all proportion to its strategic value. There are German defences visible all round the coast and additions were made to Castle Cornet. Hitler became obsessed with the idea that the Allies would try to regain the islands at any price, and over 20% of the material that went into the Atlantic Wall was committed to the Channel Islands. Most of the German fortifications still remain intact and although the majority of them are on private property several are open for the public to explore.
|Geography||Location: Western Europe, islands in the English Channel, northwest of France
Geographic coordinates: 49 28 N, 2 35 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 78 sq km
land: 78 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands
Area – comparative: about one-half the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 50 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate: temperate with mild winters and cool summers; about 50% of days are overcast
Terrain: mostly level with low hills in southwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Sark 114 m
Natural resources: cropland
Land use: arable land: NA%
permanent crops: NA%
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: large, deepwater harbor at Saint Peter Port
|Politics||The States of Guernsey, officially called the States of Deliberation, consists of 45 People’s Deputies, elected from multi- or single-member districts every four years. There are also two representatives from Alderney, a self-governing dependency of the Bailiwick, but Sark sends no representative. There are also two non-voting members: the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, both appointed by the monarch.
Laws made by the States are known as Projet(s) de Loi before they are passed and Loi or Law(s) afterwards (e.g. The Human Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2000.
A Projet de Loi is the equivalent of a UK Bill or a French projet de loi, and a Law is the equivalent of a UK Act of Parliament or a French loi. Laws have no effect until promulgated by Orders-in-Council of the Crown. They are given the Royal Sanction at regular meetings of the Privy Council in London, after which they are returned to the Islands for formal registration at the Royal Court.
The States also make delegated legislation known as ‘Ordinances (Ordonnances)’ and ‘Orders (Ordres)’ which do not require Royal Assent. Commencement orders are usually in the form of Ordinances.
The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of the Crown. The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor is Government House. Since 18 October 2005 the incumbent is Vice-Admiral Sir Fabian Malbon, born in Southsea, Portsmouth, in 1946 and a serving naval officer 1965-2002. His last naval posting before retirement from the Royal Navy was deputy commander-in-chief of fleet.
Each parish is administered by a Douzaine. Douzeniers are elected for a six year mandate, two Douzeniers being elected by parishioners at a Parish Meeting in November each year. The senior Douzenier is known as the Doyen. Two elected Constables carry out the decisions of the Douzaine, serving for between one and three years. The longest serving Constable is known as the Senior Constable and his or her colleague as the Junior Constable.
The legal system is Guernsey customary derived from Norman French customary law, heavily influenced and overlaid by English common law, justice being administered through a combination of Magistrates Court and the Royal Court. The legal profession is fused – there is no difference between solicitors and barristers as in England and Wales: Guernsey Advocates fulfill both roles. The Royal Court is presided over by the Bailiff and twelve Jurats (a permanent elected jury), the ultimate court of appeal being the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Several European countries have consulate presence in the island. The French Consulate is based at Victor Hugo’s former residence at Hauteville House. The German Honorary Consulate is based at local design and advertising agency Betley Whitehorne
|People||Population: 65,573 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.8% (male 4,914/female 4,784)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 21,897/female 22,298)
65 years and over: 17.8% (male 4,955/female 6,725) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.7 years
male: 40.7 years
female: 42.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.239% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.65 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 10.07 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.027 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.982 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.737 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.53 years
male: 77.53 years
female: 83.64 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.4 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Channel Islander(s)
adjective: Channel Islander
Ethnic groups: UK and Norman-French descent with small percentages from other European countries
Religions: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist
Languages: English, French, Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: NA%