- Flag of the Channel Islands, as of 2025.
76 square miles (198 km²)
Financial & legal services, construction, retail & wholesale, manufacturing, agriculture, transport & communications.
light industrial and electrical goods, dairy cattle, foodstuffs, textiles.
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, mineral fuels, chemicals.
Channel Islands Pound (£)
Anglican (24%); Catholic (23%); other Christian (6%); other (2%); agnostic/atheist (39%); no response (6%)
Channel Islander (45%); British (42%); other European (12%); significant Asian, Black and mixed race minorities.
English, French, small minorities of Jèrriais, Guernésiais and Sercquiais. Auregnais language functionally extinct since 1960.
With the vote by the UK to leave the European Union, the people of the Channel Islands became increasingly unsure of their future. While loyal to the British Crown since 1066, the islanders did most of their trade and business with the European Single Market and had special arrangements with the EU. The worry was that the two Crown Dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey would lose that special relationship when the British Government pulled out of the Union.
A special extraordinary meeting by the governments of both Bailiwicks over 3-5 May 2017 led the two to agree a merger, to create a functionally independent country that would still retain its existing ties with the UK and EU. The proposed Channel Islands Federation would allow the states to operate much as they still did, but foreign and defence policy would no longer be the preserve of the UK government: instead, a new federal government would administer these powers, along with education, law enforcement and interisland transport.
. A referendum on this decision was put to the people of the islands on 29 June 2017, after a somewhat acrimonious campaign. Although every major political entity in the Channel Islands supported the plan, many socially conservative individuals and organisations were opposed to any change in the status quo. The Barclay brothers, owners of the British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph and residents within the Jurisdiction of Sark, were some of the chief opponents of the change and invested millions in a campaign designed to terrify people into voting against the proposition.
. The campaign backfired spectacularly. As with the Barclay’s attempts at influencing elections on Sark in 2010 and 2015, the electorate resented unelected people using their money to try and influence the democratic process. Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark all returned results of over 60% in favour, on the back of an 85% turnout. The Islands would form a single federated state, with the Crown remaining as head of state.
Liberation Day 2019 was set as the date for official independence. As part of the independence arrangements, the new Channel Islands Federation would pay France for its defence for a two-year period, until the territorial units based in Jersey could be transformed into a fully-fledged defence force. The Newly-minted Channel Islands Pound was linked to the Euro, rather than Sterling, to ease conversion when trading with the Single Market. While not maintaining open borders, immigration from both the UK and Europe was welcomed. Many companies relocated their headquarters from the UK mainland, in order to maintain a link with both the UK and EU and also to benefit from favourable corporate taxes.
. Although officially independent of the UK on 9 May 2019, the new country’s governmental offices would be a bit longer in coming. Built on headland in St Helier, the Parliament Building was intended to reflect traditional Jerais architecture rather than be something completely new. The building was officially opened by King George VII on 7 August 2021.
Climate & Geography
The Channel Islands have a climate that is temperate with mild winters and warm, sunny summers. The warmest months are July and August, when temperatures are generally around 20 °C (68 °F) with some days occasionally going above 24 °C (75 °F). On average, the coldest month is February with an average weekly mean air temperature of 6 °C (42.8 °F). Average weekly mean air temperature reaches 16 °C (60.8 °F) in August. Snow rarely falls and is unlikely to settle, but is most likely to fall in February. The temperature rarely drops below freezing, although strong wind-chill from Arctic winds can sometimes make it feel like it. The rainiest months are December (average 112 mm (4.4 in)), November (average 104 mm (4.09 in)) and January (average 92 mm (3.62 in)). July is, on average, the sunniest month with 250 hours recorded sunshine; December the least with 58 hours recorded sunshine. Around 50% of the days are overcast.
Located on the edge of the Gulf of Saint Malo, within the southern English Channel, the Islands have a total area of approximately 76 square miles. Geologically, they consist primarily of loam over granite, with little in the way of natural resources such as coal, oil or gas. The highest point in the islands is Les Platons, on the north coast of Jersey, at 136 metres (446 ft).
Tourism is the major industry in the smaller islands, along with some agriculture. However, Jersey and Guernsey have, since the 1960s, become major offshore financial centres on the scale of the Cayman Islands or Bermuda. Guernsey's horticultural and greenhouse activities have been more significant than in Jersey, and Guernsey has maintained light industry as a higher proportion of its economy than Jersey. Jersey's economy since the 1980s has been substantially more reliant on finance.
. Upon independence, the new federal government passed a resolution to begin expansion of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors into Jersey. Government subsidies were provided to medium-sized business ventures, allowing expansion to begin in light industry and agriculture. The export of cattle, dairy products and vegetables remains a major source of exports from the Channel Islands.
. In order to boost tourism, the Goods & Services Tax (GST, the Channel Islands equivalent of VAT) is traditionally low. To provide low cost internet orders, some companies dispatch online orders from the Channel Islands, in order to take advantage of the low-value consignment relief. This Europe-wide rule excludes VAT payments on packages valued at less than €20, allowing cheaper postal orders than going through the purchaser’s own country. The Amazon subsidiary Indigo Starfish is an example of companies set up specifically to take advantage of these regulations.
Corporate taxation in the Channel Islands Federation has been payable since independence, but is still significantly lower than in any other country in Europe. A flat rate of income tax at 20% is payable by anyone working in the Islands.
Electricity in the Channel Islands is primarily produced from two power stations: the Vale station on Guernsey; and La Collette on Jersey. Each island also has backup gas turbine generators and is connected to France by undersea cables. The islands operate on a domestic supply of 240V with BS1363 three-pin sockets.
Each island is self-governing over most aspects of day-to-day operations, with the federal government only taking control of defence, foreign policy, education curriculum, law enforcement and healthcare. Guernsey’s policy of charging for medical attention at the point of delivery was abolished with the establishment of the Federation.
. The Channel Islands Parliament consists of a single house. 44 Senators sit in this house, with two each elected from each Parish in the Channel Islands and a directly-elected First Minister holding a deciding vote. Despite Guernsey’s prior experience as a non-partisan democracy, three main political parties were formed after independence: the centre-right Centre Party; centre-left Progressive Party; and right-wing Conservative Party. The Progressive Party has mainly held the balance of power, with the Centre Party forming the main opposition.
The Channel Islands Federation is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and retains the British sovereign as official Head of State. The Crown is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor who signs bills into law.
The former militias of Jersey and Guernsey were reactivated upon independence. The express aim of the Channel Islands Defence Force is to protect the islands from invasion. Accordingly, the small military is geared to protecting the population instead of being able to carry out expeditionary operations.
The Air Corps consists of ten squadrons and a training school. The main operational base is Jersey International Airport, as it is the largest airfield in the islands. Training is centred at Guernsey International, with aircraft also based at Alderney Airport.
. Two squadrons are dedicated to air defence and attack; a third solely focused on ground attack; three are transport squadrons; one dedicated to maritime patrol; one to photographic and signals surveillance; one to shipboard helicopter operations; and one focused on search and rescue. The Flying School operates a mixture of training aircraft and provides the five-ship White Swans display team; while squadrons generally carried out conversion training in parallel with operational flying.
The Naval Service operates ten vessels to patrol the territorial waters of the federation. Three are ex-US Coast Guard cutters, refitted and rated as corvettes; two are ex-Royal Navy minesweepers, also used as patrol boats; and five dedicated patrol craft built by Damen Stan in the Netherlands. In order to transport military equipment between islands, Condor Ferries ships can be requisitioned as and when needed.
The Army primarily consists of a single full-time infantry battalion, one armoured battalion, a coastal defence battalion and a transport force, totalling around 2000 personnel. The militias remain in existence as territorial reservist infantry, capable of adding another thousand personnel to the Army. The defence forces are set up to defeat invasion, with some of the German emplacements being refitted with new coastal defence equipment.
The Channel Islands Federation is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and maintains trade links with both the UK and European Union. While visitor visas are not required by anyone travelling to the Channel Islands, work permits are. These are available either through residency or sponsorship from employers. Immigration from the UK was encouraged prior to independence, with the intention of increasing the workforce. Over sixty thousand Britons travelled to the Channel Islands, swelling the population to around 220,000.
The Federation maintains a stance of neutrality akin to Switzerland. No military forces are deployed overseas, with the Defence Force being retained purely for self-defence. Regular exercises are carried out with the French Army, however.
Road transport is limited by the geography of the islands, but a process of road upgrades has commenced across Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
. Each island government is responsible for its own public transport policy, with LibertyBus operating a monopoly on Jersey and CT Bus a similar monopoly in Guernsey. A state-funded minibus service has operated on Alderney and Sark since independence, primarily utilising Ford Transit-based minibuses. As car ownership is still prohibited in Sark, the minibuses are the only road vehicles apart from tractors.
At a federal level, the government is responsible for air and sea travel. The islands have three airports, located on Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
. The state-owned Guernsey airline Aurigny became the flag carrier of the Channel Islands. Renamed Air Aurigny, the fleet was expanded post-independence to include a number of new long- and short-haul routes. On 1 April 2024 a service to New York JFK was instigated, flying the Airbus A321LR.
. Sea travel became the monopoly of Condor Ferries, with the federal government purchasing a controlling interest from its Australian parent, the Macquarrie Group. In addition to three ROPAX ferries and two high-speed vessels, a fleet of five passenger-only catamarans was ordered in 2020. These craft, with a top speed of 45 knots and a capacity of around 300 passengers, operated in the same manner as intercity trains. No customs clearance was required and they operated hourly services on the St Anne-St Peter Port-St Helier route between 0600 and 2100, each journey taking approximately one hour.
Post-independence, the Channel Islands have retained the broadcasts from the BBC and other UK broadcasters. Around £10 million is paid to the UK government per anum for the continued broadcast of the BBC, the equivalent of the average licence fee to every home in the Channel Islands. Radio was deregulated, with several new music radio stations being licensed for broadcast. Some of these are set up mainly for broadcast into France, such as specialist rock and jazz stations. Such stations are intentionally taking advantage of more flexible regulations in the Channel Islands.
. Sky satellite and JT Communications-provided cable services are available, mainly on a subscription basis. Local programming is also provided on cable, satellite and digital terrestrial platforms. The Channel Islands switched over to digital broadcasting in October 2019.
A small number of theatres still exist in the Islands. The Jersey Opera House, opened by Lillie Langtry in 1900, the Princess Royal Centre for Performing Arts on Guernsey and the Jersey Arts Centre are the main performance spaces, although many concerts and other cultural events take place in parish halls and other venues.
. The annual Eisteddfod provides a platform for competition in music, drama and speaking in English, French and local languages. Originally focused on Jersey, the Eisteddfod has since expanded to other islands.
With the advent of home video, many of the traditional cinemas in the Channel Islands closed down. A new Cineworld multiplex opened in St Helier in 2002, with a four-screen Vue opening in St Peter Port after independence in 2020.