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Belgrave Bay, 1840

The island of Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands, and the main island in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It is a British Crown Dependency.


Guernsey has a total area of 25 square miles (63 km²), and lies in the Gulf of St Malo 30 miles (48 km) west of France's Normandy coast and 75 miles (121 km) south of Weymouth, Dorset on the coast of the South of England.

The island has a population of around 65,000 people.

Its capital is St Peter Port. The island is divided into a total of ten parishes.


The Channel Islands originally formed part of the Duchy of Normandy. Following the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror also became King of England, he retained possession of them. In 1204, when mainland Normandy reverted to France, the islands chose to remain faithful to the British Crown in return for special rights and privileges.

Since then, they have been periodically invaded and occupied by France (in the 14th century), Wales and, most recently, by Germany during World War II.

The rights and privileges granted to the islands in 1204, have enabled the islands to benefit from a tax free status - which has enabled the island to prosper through world trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, and through the offshore finance industry in the 20th and 21st centuries.


Although dependent on the British Crown, the island has its own government, the States of Guernsey, and Royal Court. It depends on the British Government for foreign affairs and defence. It is not part of the European Union.


See main article Guernsey Culture.

The first language in the island is English. Guernesiais is the traditional tongue, which is closely related to Norman French, despite attempts to revive it, there were fewer than 1,000 speakers left in the island at the 2001 census.

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