Guernsey is situated 50km off the north-west coast of France in the Bay of St. Malo and 120km from the English coast.
An independent and self-governing island forming part of the southernmost group of islands that make up the British Isles. The Bailiwick of Guernsey includes the smaller neighbouring islands of Sark, Herm and Alderney. The Island has a total surface area of 63.4 sq. km, with only 15% of this being built upon. The population of Guernsey as of March 2012 was 63,085 with a population density of 995 people per sq. km.
Guernsey has a milder climate than the UK and benefits from more sunshine hours. Islanders make the most of the outdoors with the beaches and water activities being extremely popular during the summer months.
Many international banks, fund managers and insurance companies are establishing here. Whilst the traditional industries of tourism, flower growing, fishing and dairy farming still play an important role in contributing to the local economy, there are also a number of high profile light industries based on the Island. For more information about Guernsey, its culture and things to do go to the VisitGuernsey website.
Guernsey’s constitution & history
Guernsey, together with the other Channel Islands, was part of the Duchy of Normandy before the conquest of continental Normandy by the French King Phillipe-Auguste in 1204 following his defeat of King John of England at Rouen. The defeat signalled England’s loss of continental Normandy which had been united with the English Crown since the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. Guernsey, part of the Duchy of Normandy for more than a hundred years at that point, made the decision to remain loyal to the King of England.
From this point the Island has pledged its allegiance to the English Crown but not to the British Government and as such is not part of the UK, remaining autonomous in relation to its domestic affairs, including taxation. However in practise through the Crown, the British Government is formally responsible for the Island’s defence and its international relations. For more information on the history of Guernsey click here.
For a small Island Guernsey has a surprisingly diverse landscape. The south of the Island is a mix of high hedgerows, green fields and forested valleys together with a quaint village feel. The southern cliffs offer uninterrupted sea views and a chance to escape the bustle of the town centre.
The west coast is the summer destination of all Islanders who take advantage of some of Britain’s cleanest beaches and the Island’s best surfing areas.
These are the best places to go to enjoy a warm summer’s evening after a hard day’s work. The beach is never more than a short drive or even just a walk away. Towards the north of the Island you can find common areas which are well utilised by golfers and walkers. The east coast is the urban hub of the Island but even this has not lost its small town feel with cobbled streets and regular events showcasing local produce and activities.
Historical sites in Guernsey
Through its unique location and relationship with both England and France, the Island has developed a diverse history, influenced by numerous events over the centuries. Most prominently are the numerous Loophole and Martello towers that can be seen around the coast that were built as part of Guernsey’s defences against the French in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
The Channel Islands, including Guernsey, were the only part of the British Isles to be invaded and occupied by German forces during World War II. As a result military defences such as bunkers and walls were built by the Germans, many of which can be seen along the Island’s cliffs and beaches today. For more information and details on all of the different historic sites, museums and galleries around the Island click here.