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For the garment with this name, see guernsey.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British crown dependency off the coast of France. As well as the island of Guernsey itself, it also includes Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou, Burhou and other islets. There are 10 Parishes in Guernsey. Together with the Bailiwick of Jersey, it is included in the collective grouping known as the Channel Islands. It is known in French as Guernesey.

Bailiwick of Guernsey
(in detail)
Coat of Arms of Guernsey
Location of Guernsey
Official languages English (predominant), French (legislative use only)
Capital St Peter Port
Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief Sir John Foley
Bailiff Sir de Vic Carey
Chief Minister Laurie Morgan
Currency Guernsey Pound (on par with Pound Sterling); Jersey, UK and Scottish currency is accepted interchangeably.
Time zone UTC (DST +1)
National anthem God Save the Queen (official), Sarnia Cherie (official for occasions when distinguishing anthem required),
National Day Liberation Day, 9 May
Internet TLD .gg
Calling Code +44-1481



Rising sea levels transformed Guernsey into the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the emergent English Channel until about 6000 BC, when Guernsey and other promontories were cut off from continental Europe, becoming islands. 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.

Saint Samson of Dol is credited with the introduction of Christianity to Guernsey.

In 933 the islands, formerly under the control of the 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.

The islands were the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II. Many people from Guernsey were deported into camps in the southwest of Germany, notably to Biberach an der Riss and interned in the Lindele Camp ("Lager Lindele").


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 passed by the States are known as 'Ordinances'.

Until the General Election of 2000, there were 33 Deputies, and 12 Conseillers representing the Island, serving terms of six years, with half being elected every three. The Conseillers were not originally directly elected by the people (although latterly directly elected by Bailiwick-wide vote), and the office has now been abolished. The 10 Douzaine representatives (representing parish authorities) were removed from the States in the 2004 constitutional reform.

Parochial douzeniers representing parish authorities were removed from the States in 2004, as part of constitutional reform which also introduced ministerial government under a Chief Minister.

The legal system is derived from Norman French and English common law, justice being administered by the Royal Court.


Map of Guernsey

At 49°28' N, 2°35' W, Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands have a total area of 30 sq mi (78 sq km) and a coastline of about 30 miles (50 km). Lihou, a tidal island, is attached to Guernsey by a causeway at low tide. The terrain is mostly level with low hills in southwest. Elevation varies from sea level to 375 feet (114 m) at an unnamed location on Sark. Natural resources include cropland. There is a large, deepwater harbor at St Peter Port.

The climate is temperate with mild winters and cool summers. 50% of the days are overcast.


Financial services - banking, fund management, insurance, etc. - account for about 55% of total income in this tiny Channel Island economy. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular tax haven. However, the evolving economic integration of the European Union nations is changing the rules under which Guernsey operates.

Guernsey issues its own coinage and banknotes. The Guernsey Pound is at par with the British pound.

Ports and harbours exist at St Peter Port and St Sampson's . There are two paved airports in the bailiwick (Guernsey Airport and Alderney Airport ), and 3 miles (5 km) of railways in Alderney.

The Guernsey Railway, which was virtually an electric tramway, and which began working on 20 February 1892, was abandoned on 9 June 1934. It replaced an earlier transport system which was worked by steam, and was named the Guernsey Steam Tramway. The latter began service on 6 June 1879 with six locomotives.

  • [Notes on the Railway taken from The Railway Magazine, September 1934 edition]


The population is 65,031, as of 2004. The median age for males is 39.6 years and for females is 41.5 years. The population growth rate is 0.31% with 9.16 births/1,000 population, 9.87 deaths/1,000 population, and 3.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population. The life expectancy is 77.17 years for males and for females. 1.38 children are born per woman. Ethnic groups consist of British and Norman-French descent. The Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, and Methodist religions are practised.


English is the only language spoken by a majority of the population, while Dgèrnésiais, the Norman language of the island, is currently spoken fluently by 2% of the population (according to 2001 census). However, 14% of the population claim some understanding of the language and it is taught in a few Island schools. Until the early 20th century French was the only official language. Family and Place names reflect this linguistic heritage.

Victor Hugo wrote some of his best-known works while in exile in Guernsey, including Les Misérables. His home in St Peter Port, Hauteville House, is now a museum administered by the city of Paris.

The national animals of the island of Guernsey are the donkey and the Guernsey cow. The traditional explanation for the donkey (âne in French and Dgèrnésiais) is the steepness of St Peter Port streets that necessitated beasts of burden for transport (in contrast to the flat terrain of the rival capital of St Helier in Jersey), although it is also used in reference to Guernsey inhabitants' stubbornness. The Guernsey cow is a more internationally famous icon of the island.

Guernsey people are traditionally nicknamed donkeys or ânes, especially by Jersey people (who in turn are nicknamed crapauds - toads). Inhabitants of each of the parishes of Guernsey also have traditional nicknames, although these have generally dropped out of use among the English-speaking population.

The Guernsey Lily Nerine sarniensis (Sarnia is the traditional name of the island of Guernsey in Latin) is also used as a symbol of the island.

The island's traditional colour (e.g. for sporting events) is green.

External links

  • States of Guernsey - Official site
  • Guernsey Tourism - Official Site
  • This Is Guernsey - Local portal site

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Dependencies: Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Jan Mayen | Jersey | Isle of Man | Svalbard

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:43:26
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12