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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Channel Islands

(133,000 in 1991)
Group of islands off the northwest coast of France, which became attached to the British crown at the time of the *Conquest as part of the dukedom of Normandy. They have remained linked with Britain ever since (the only part of Normandy of which this is true) and are now crown dependencies. They have internal self-government, which includes making their own tax laws, and for purposes of administration they are divided into two bailiwicks.

One is Jersey (capital St Helier); and the other Guernsey (capital St Peter Port) with Alderney, Great and Little Sark, Brechou, Herm, Lihou and Jethou as dependencies. In addition each island has its own parliament, known as the States (except on Sark, where it is called the Chief Pleas). Sark is also unique in retaining a feudal system with a hereditary overlord of considerable power, known as the Seigneur when male and the Dame when female.

The population is mainly of Norman descent, though Alderney has a majority of English settlers, and both French and English are spoken throughout the islands. Farming and fishing have provided the traditional economy.

The famous local varieties of dairy cow, the Jersey and the Guernsey, notable for the high butterfat content of their milk, were recognized as breeds from the 18C, when laws were passed preventing the import of any cattle to the islands except for slaughter. Small and usually fawn-coloured, they are believed to have descended from the indigenous cattle of the nearest parts of the mainland, Normandy and Brittany.

Jersey's skill in knitwear is reflected in the widespread use of the word *'jersey', and the island is famous for its Jersey Royal potatoes. Jersey also has a famous zoo, founded by Gerald Durrell. Tourism and tax benefits are of importance in the economy of the islands.

The islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Germans in World War II, from July 1940 to 9 May 1945.

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