Situated in the English Channel, the Channel Islands are an archipelago just off the coast of Normandy, France. The two largest islands are Jersey and Guernsey, while smaller inhabited islands include Alderney and Sark.
The Channel Islands have been a dependency of the UK since the 11th century, but they technically are not a part of the United Kingdom. The islands are governed as two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Each bailiwick sets its own policies for central issues such as healthcare, immigration, homeownership, schooling and more. Britain is responsible only for the islands' defence and foreign affairs. However, in terms of culture, cuisine and history, the Channel Islands have been most influenced by nearby France.
The Channel Islands are well-known for being a tax haven. While the islands are not entirely tax-free, taxes do tend to be lower on the islands than in many other countries. Finance and banking services are the backbone of both Jersey and Guernsey's economies, with tourism another major industry.
Capital city: Saint Helier (Jersey) and Saint Peter Port (Guernsey)
Neighbouring countries: The English Channel completely surrounds the Channel Islands. The closest countries are England to the north and France to the south and east.
Geography: There are seven permanently inhabited islands, of which Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are the most populous. There are also a number of uninhabited islets.
Political system: The islands are dependent territories of the British Crown and defence and international affairs are handled by the UK. However, they have their own legal system, administrative bodies and fiscal policies.
Major religion: Christianity
Main languages: English
Money: The currency of the UK is the British Pound Sterling (GBP), which is subdivided into 100 pence. There are local versions of the British Pound in both Guernsey (GGP) and Jersey (JEP). Notes and coins from the UK can be used in the Channel Islands but currency from the Channel Islands can't be used elsewhere.
Tipping: 10 to 15 percent of the bill in restaurants, hotels and taxis is the norm if a service charge has not already been added.
Time: GMT +1
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs have either three flat blades or two round pins.
Internet domain: .uk; .je (Jersey); .gg (Guernsey)
International dialling code: +44
Emergency contacts: 999 or 112
Transport and driving: Driving is on the left-hand side. Jersey and Guernsey both have efficient bus systems. Some residents use private cars but on the smaller islands, no motorised vehicles are allowed. In this case, travel is either by bicycle or on foot.