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Channel Islands

A map of the Channel IslandsThe Channel Islands, also known by their French name Îles Anglo-Normandes, are an archipelago in the English Channel, lying off the coast of Normandy. The total area of the islands is 198 square kilometres. They are not part of the United Kingdom, nor are they members of the European Union, but possessions of the British Crown. They are made up of a pair of Crown Dependencies: the Bailiwick of Jersey (Jersey is the largest island) and the Bailiwick of Guernsey (which includes the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and some smaller islands). The two bailiwicks each have their own independent laws and governments. The inhabitants of the Channel Islands are British citizens.


Aerial view of Sark
Castle of Mont Orgueil, overlooking the harbour of Gorey in the parish of St Martin, Jersey. Construction began in 1204.

History

The islands were inhabited by Britons fleeing from invading Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century. From the beginning of the 9th century, Viking raiders appeared on the coasts. In 933, the islands became part of the Duchy of Normandy, which passed to the English monarchy after William the Conqueror became king of England in 1066. While England lost mainland Normandy in 1204, the islands remained possessions of the Crown and were divided into the two bailiwicks later that century. In a Charter of 1394, King Richard IIin appreciation of the great loyalty shown to the Crown, granted to Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and Alderney permanent exemption from English taxes.

Natives of Alderney are known as Ridunians, from its Latin name Riduna. They are traditionally nicknamed "vaques" (the local word for cows) or "lapins" (rabbits), after the animals seen on the island.

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