The Channel Islands are a curiosity oddity of the British Isles. Like the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, they are British Crown Dependencies - they are one step away from being fully independent countries in their own right. The Channel Islands are made up of the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey (often grouped as the "Channel Islands" but are actually completely independent of each other).

The United Kingdom is a very old and complex country (after all what's the difference between the UK, Great Britain, and the British Isles?). It is full of history and stunning attractions, it is even possible to see the remanents of Londinium - the old Roman City of London.

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What To Know About The Channel Islands

When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he became the king of England and Normandy (where he was from). Over time the lands of Normandy were lost to France - all except the Channel Islands. They are the last part that was never lost by the English crown.

The Channel Islands have always been governed differently and have never been part of England, the United Kingdom, or the European Union. They have been administered separately since the late 13th century. Historically they spoke Norman French and still do - although it is dying out on the islands in favor of English today.

  • Remnants: They Are The Last Remnants of the Duchy of Normandy
  • Countries: Jersey and Guernsey Are often Described As Countries
  • Geographic Term: the "Channel Islands" is A Geographic Term as Jersey and Guernsey Are Not Related Politically

The full history and story of how these islands came to be is a fascinating and bizarre one - unfortunately, it's beyond the scope of this article.

  • Access: By Flight and Ferry

The Channel Islands are easy to reach by plane from London and there are also summer daily ferry crossings from Portsmouth and Poole in England as well as from France. One should allow for at least a week to visit all the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, and Jersey).

If one is planning to go, be sure to budget, the islands are not the cheapest destination out there. Plan one's trip with www.visitchannelislands.com.

Related: Why You Should Visit This Quaint Isle Between Ireland And The U.K. That Everyone Forgets About

The Bailiwick of Guernsey

Some things in this life are complicated. And despite its tiny size, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is divided into three jurisdictions - namely Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark. Each of these has its own legislature and each raises its own taxation.

  • French Name: Bailliage de Guernesey

Guernsey is only around half the size of Jersey but is also packed with stunning attractions - from spectacular cliffs to numerous restaurants. The island has earned itself the nickname "Gourmet Island".

Alderney:

The tiny island of Alderney has only around 2,000 people and a size of around 7.8 km2 (3 sq mi). The island is only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.

  • Population: Around 2,000
  • Size: 3 miles by 1.5 miles

Guernsey:

Guernsey is the main island of the Bailiwick and has a population of around 63,000 on an island 62 km2 (24 sq mi). It also includes the nearby and inhabited islands of Herm, Jethou, and Lihou.

  • Population: Around 63,000
  • Size: 62 km2 (24 sq mi)

Sark:

It may seem strange that an island with only 600 people would be autonomous, but it is. Sark has a population of around 600 and the island is only around 2 sq miles or 5.2 km2.

  • Population: Around 600
  • Size: 5.2 km2 (2 sq mi)

Related: So, What Territories Actually Make Up Britain?

The Bailiwick of Jersey

The State of New Jersey in the United States was named after this island. It is the largest of the Channel Islands and only 14 miles off the coast of France. It is made up of the main island (called Jersey) and some small uninhabited islands surrounding it.

  • Population: 103,000

Like Guernsey, it has the power of its financial, legal, and judicial systems and has an identity separate from that of the UK.

The island is a timeless haven and is full of a myriad of country lanes along with a long and windswept rugged coastline. The island has some beaches as well as a range of old castles and plenty of WWII fortifications (the Channel Islands were the only part of the "greater" UK that were occupied by the Germans in WWII).

  • Capital: St Helier

Saint Helens has several notable museums, a chill vibe on the island, and great food. Be sure to check out Elizabeth Castle built in the reign of Elizabeth I and where king Charles II took refuge.