Photos of Guernsey

Interior of The Little Chapel in Les Vauxbelets Valley in Guernsey, constructed in 1914 by a Brother Deodat using broken china, seashells, and pebbles. The Chapel is thought to be the smallest consecrated chapel in the world.

Introduction

Background

Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy, which held sway in both France and England. The islands were the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II. The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a self-governing British Crown dependency that is not part of the United Kingdom. However, the UK Government is constitutionally responsible for its defense and international representation. The Bailiwick of Guernsey consists of the main island of Guernsey and a number of smaller islands including Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou, and Lihou.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Western Europe, islands in the English Channel, northwest of France

Geographic coordinates

49 28 N, 2 35 W

Area

total: 78 sq km

land: 78 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands

country comparison to the world: 227

Area - comparative

about one-half the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Climate

temperate with mild winters and cool summers; about 50% of days are overcast

Terrain

mostly flat with low hills in southwest

Elevation

highest point: Le Moulin on Sark 114 m

lowest point: English Channel 0 m

Natural hazards

very large tidal variation and fast currents can make local waters dangerous

Geography - note

large, deepwater harbor at Saint Peter Port

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Channel Islander(s)

adjective: Channel Islander

Ethnic groups

Guernsey 52.9%, UK and Ireland 23.9%, Portugal 2.2%, Latvia 1.5%, other Europe 2.9%, other 4.6%, unspecified 12% (2019 est.)

note: data represent population by country of birth; the native population is of British and Norman-French descent

Languages

English, French, Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts

Religions

Protestant (Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist), Roman Catholic

Age structure

0-14 years: 14.5% (male 5,008/female 4,712)

15-24 years: 10.58% (male 3,616/female 3,476)

25-54 years: 40.73% (male 13,821/female 13,492)

55-64 years: 13.96% (male 4,635/female 4,728)

65 years and over: 20.23% (male 6,229/female 7,335) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Guernsey. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 49

youth dependency ratio: 22.3

elderly dependency ratio: 26.7

potential support ratio: 3.7 (2020 est.)

note: data represent Guernsey and Jersey

Median age

total: 44.3 years

male: 43 years

female: 45.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Birth rate

9.77 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Death rate

9.19 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Net migration rate

1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Urbanization

urban population: 31% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.68% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data include Guernsey and Jersey

Major urban areas - population

16,000 SAINT PETER PORT (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.41 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.92 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 202

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 83.03 years

male: 80.31 years

female: 85.89 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Drinking water source

improved: total: 94.2% of population

unimproved: total: 5.9% of population (2017 est.)

note: includes data for Jersey

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 98% of population

unimproved: total: 1.2% of population (2017 est.)

note: data represent Guernsey and Jersey

Environment

Environment - current issues

coastal erosion, coastal flooding; declining biodiversity due to land abandonment and succession to scrub or woodland

Climate

temperate with mild winters and cool summers; about 50% of days are overcast

Urbanization

urban population: 31% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.68% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data include Guernsey and Jersey

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 178,933 tons (2016 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 50,871 tons (2016 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 28.4% (2016 est.)

note: data include combined totals for Guernsey and Jersey.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Bailiwick of Guernsey

conventional short form: Guernsey

former: Norman Isles

etymology: the name is of Old Norse origin, but the meaning of the root "Guern(s)" is uncertain; the "-ey" ending means "island"

Government type

parliamentary democracy (States of Deliberation)

Dependency status

British crown dependency

Capital

name: Saint Peter Port

geographic coordinates: 49 27 N, 2 32 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: Saint Peter Port is the name of the town and its surrounding parish; the "port" distinguishes this parish from that of Saint Peter on the other side of the island

Administrative divisions

none (British Crown dependency); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 10 parishes: Castel, Forest, Saint Andrew, Saint Martin, Saint Peter Port, Saint Pierre du Bois, Saint Sampson, Saint Saviour, Torteval, Vale

note: two additional parishes for Guernsey are sometimes listed - Saint Anne on the island of Alderney and Saint Peter on the island of Sark - but they are generally not included in the enumeration of parishes

Independence

none (British Crown dependency)

National holiday

Liberation Day, 9 May (1945)

Constitution

history: unwritten; includes royal charters, statutes, and common law and practice

amendments: new laws or changes to existing laws are initiated by the States of Deliberation; passage requires majority vote; many laws have been passed; in 2019, 60 laws were passed

Legal system

customary legal system based on Norman customary law; includes elements of the French civil code and English common law

Citizenship

see United Kingdom

Suffrage

16 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Lieutenant-Governor Vice Admiral Ian CORDER (since 14 March 2016)

head of government: Chief Minister Peter FERBRACHE (since 16 October 2020); Bailiff Richard MCMAHON (since 11 May 2020); note - the chief minister is the president of the Policy and Resources Committee and is the de facto head of government; the Policy and Resources Committee, elected by the States of Deliberation, functions as the executive; the 5 members all have equal voting rights

cabinet: none

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; lieutenant governor and bailiff appointed by the monarch; chief minister, who is the president of the Policy and Resources Committee indirectly elected by the States of Deliberation for a 4-year term; last held on 6 May 2016 (next to be held in June 2020)

election results: Gavin ST PIER (independent) elected president of the Policy and Resources Committee and chief minister

Legislative branch

description: unicameral States of Deliberation (40 seats; 38 People's Deputies and 2 representatives of the States of Alderney; members directly elected by majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - non-voting members include the bailiff (presiding officer), attorney-general, and solicitor-general

elections: last held on 27 April 2016 (next to be held in June 2020)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 38; composition - men 27, women 13, percent of women 32.5%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Guernsey Court of Appeal (consists of the Bailiff of Guernsey, who is the ex-officio president of the Guernsey Court of Appeal, and at least 12 judges); Royal Court (organized into 3 divisions - Full Court sits with 1 judge and 7 to 12 jurats acting as judges of fact, Ordinary Court sits with 1 judge and normally 3 jurats, and Matrimonial Causes Division sits with 1 judge and 4 jurats); note - appeals beyond Guernsey courts are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: Royal Court Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff, and Court of Appeal justices appointed by the British Crown and hold office at Her Majesty's pleasure; jurats elected by the States of Election, a body chaired by the Bailiff and a number of jurats

subordinate courts: Court of Alderney; Court of the Seneschal of Sark; Magistrates' Court (includes Juvenile Court); Contracts Court; Ecclesiastical Court; Court of Chief Pleas

Political parties and leaders

none; all independents

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (British crown dependency)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (British crown dependency)

Flag description

white with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) extending to the edges of the flag and a yellow equal-armed cross of William the Conqueror superimposed on the Saint George cross; the red cross represents the old ties with England and the fact that Guernsey is a British Crown dependency; the gold cross is a replica of the one used by Duke William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings in 1066

National symbol(s)

Guernsey cow, donkey; national colors: red, white, yellow

National anthem

name: "Sarnia Cherie" (Guernsey Dear)

lyrics/music: George DEIGHTON/Domencio SANTANGELO

note: adopted 1911; serves as a local anthem; as a British crown dependency, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

Financial services accounted for about 21% of employment and about 32% of total income in 2016 in this tiny, prosperous Channel Island economy. Construction, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Financial services, professional services, tourism, retail, and the public sector have been growing. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular offshore financial center.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.465 billion (2015 est.)

$3.451 billion (2014 est.)

$3.42 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 dollars

country comparison to the world: 188

Real GDP growth rate

0.4% (2015 est.)

1.2% (2014 est.)

4.2% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.742 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3% (2000)

industry: 10% (2000)

services: 87% (2000)

Agricultural products

tomatoes, greenhouse flowers, sweet peppers, eggplant, fruit; Guernsey cattle

Industries

tourism, banking

Budget

revenues: 563.6 million (2005)

expenditures: 530.9 million (2005 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Exports - commodities

tomatoes, flowers and ferns, sweet peppers, eggplant, other vegetables

Imports - commodities

coal, gasoline, oil, machinery, and equipment

Exchange rates

Guernsey pound per US dollar

0.7836 (2017 est.)

0.738 (2016 est.)

0.738 (2015)

0.6542 (2014)

0.607 (2013)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 36,547

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 60 (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 166

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 71,249

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113 (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: high performance global connections with quality service; connections to major cities around the world to rival and attract future investment and future needs of islanders and businesses (2018)

domestic: fixed-line 60 per 100 and mobile-cellular 113 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 44; landing points for Guernsey-Jersey, HUGO, INGRID, Channel Islands -9 Liberty and UK-Channel Islands-7 submarine cable to UK and France (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

multiple UK terrestrial TV broadcasts are received via a transmitter in Jersey with relays in Jersey, Guernsey, and Alderney; satellite packages are available; BBC Radio Guernsey and 1 other radio station operating

Internet users

total: 55,050

percent of population: 83.3% (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (registered in UK) (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 9 (registered in UK)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Braye Bay, Saint Peter Port

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues