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You are in: Jersey > People > Your island > Is Jersey a Country?

Flying the Jersey and Union flags

Flying the Jersey and Union flags

Is Jersey a Country?

Jersey isn’t part of the UK, Great Britain or Europe – but is it a country in its own right?

Nation and Country

How much do you think these definitions apply to Jersey? AND, or maybe BUT - does the uniqueness of Jersey's history and the way that it's constitution has evolved over the centuries mean dictionary definitions such as these are too simple to accommodate our textured past?

So where does Jersey sit in relation to its neighbours and I'm not talking about the length of the ferry journey to Poole!

Visualise, if you would, a map of Northern Europe

As far to the left as Ireland, As high as Norway, as far right as the middle of the North Sea, skirting round and down to St Malo at the bottom.

We know many things about the relationships that are between these large and small lumps of rock that sit within this area of the map.

Wearing a Union Flag hat

Wearing a Union Flag hat

Jersey is NOT part of Great Britain. The term Great Britain is the collective name for England Scotland and Wales.

It is NOT part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom means 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.

This is why its official name - which came into use in 1922 - is the United Kingdom.....of Great Britain....and Northern Ireland.

Without wanting to confuse matters, there are many other islands on this area of the map - so why don't they have similarly complex arrangements with their neighbours?

Take out the Isle of Man, take out the Channel Islands (and a small isle of the coast of Ireland) and you are left with many, many landlocked communities which all belong to the Great British countries. For example, the Shetlands and Orkneys are Scottish, Anglesey is Welsh ad the Isle of Wight which belongs to England.

Liberation of Jersey re-enactment

Liberation of Jersey re-enactment

Essentially, the common bond we share with the Isle of Man and the Bailiwick of Guernsey is that we are self-governing, British Crown dependencies - a derivative of this being the term peculiars.

So, bearing this in mind - along with our culture, history, traditions and practices - it is not surprising Jersey is regarded by many as their nation, and their country. A place all of its own.

Have your say

Do you think Jersey should be classed as a nation – should the island have its own national anthem separate to God Save the Queen?

Does it matter whether we’re a nation or not as long as we’re self governing? Should the island be self governing or would you prefer Jersey to be part of England?

last updated: 20/10/2008 at 10:17
created: 08/06/2007

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

does anyone know the official website of Jersey?????

Response to Poller
I am Jersey, and if you don't mind, I am going to carry on living here, and I am goign to carry on complaining!!I was born here, so don't suggest that because I think this island isn't perfect that I should go live somewhere else that I have no connection with.The English have a right to complain about Jersey, because our tax laws mean the UK loses out on potential tax it should be receiving. I know this will upset you, but you must grasp the truth.Oh yeah, and we will complain about the other tax havens too, but Jersey is on that list, so Jersey ain't gonna get away scot free.

Glad I got away....
Who cares???

A truly independent Jersey would be far too open to corruption with the current tax laws. I am proud to have the British crest on my passport but think we should remain a part of the Crowns overseas dependancies but IOM, Jersey & Guernsey should be able to compete in international football like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla etc do...are you listening Platini???

Take a look at yourself and make a change........People all around the world complain about the government but don't even try to change things because the World is selfish. To the people writing stupid comments here! You have the choice, if you don't like it here why are you living here if everythings crap? Why are people writing comments here if they don't even live on the Island????????I don't even think it's the Jersey people complaining, It's the English.What about Guernsey, Switzerland Cayman Islands????????????????????

An Englishwoman in Brittany
I have heard it said that Jersey is a town that thinks it is a country.... I believe it is what it says on the tin .. a British crown dependancy

Grant Phillips
@Andre Ruellan David Tomlinson and others. Why are you even reading if you left 55 years ago etc. I came back to Jersey after living in Europe and it's still a great place, If people put there money here it's up to them and the English just think it's their Island not knowing anything. People always complain about everything and are jealous if other people have more or enjoy their life. I rent a flat here go to work like any other person, have friends and could live anywhere but I'm in Jersey at the moment and what is wrong with that.

plz help me for jersy

Andre Ruellan
Re your article "Is Jersey a Country"Your correspondents make interesting reading.I left Jersey 55 years ago and I'm happy to see that nothing has changed. It's still an asylum for the nuttiest bunch of idiots who don't know whether they are British, Normans or left overs from a long ago revolution. However some of my dearest friends are still there so I won't insult them too much. Suffice to say that that they had better not build that bridge to France currently being discussed. It will let all the inmates escape.

David Tomlinson
I was born in Jersey and left for the mainland as a small child, My personal opinion is that ||Jersey been self governing is nothing but an excuse for some very rich people to pay less tax and avoid VAT. Its time that the EU and Great Britain/UK put a stop to both the channel islands and the Isle of man self governing fiasco, I mean what does a states of Jersey representative achieve that an MP cant sitting in the the oldest paliament in the world. Its time these pariochial out of date perculiars came into line with the rest of the country and europe and start paying the same tax as everyone else. Your history is intertwined with Britain and France and they are part of the EU, you rely on the UK for defence and foreign policy, you have the same structure to public services, NHS etc so as citizems/subjects of the british isles you should be pushing yourselves to be part of a modern UK/Europe not sitting in the past.

Peter Anthony Troy
The threat of the debate to Jersey's independence should not be focused on its links to the UK nor its historical association with the Crown but from the influence of the European Union (EU) What has not been acknowledged in the comments section or on the editorial page is that since I January 1973 the UK has not itself been an independent self governing nation; Prime Minister Heath signed that way when the UK, with the authority of Parliament, UK joined the EEC - now the EU. The pressure on politicians of Jersey and Guernsey to impose greater banking, investment agricultural employment and environmental laws and regulations stems from the all embracing EU. All of the aforementioned subjects have incidentally been transferred to the rule of the EU, from the UK government over the past 25 years. Whilst the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey remain technically independent of rule from Brussels the Laws of our dear Channel Islands and indeed way of life of its people is being eroded by stealth by the all embracing influence of the EU and it's Napoleonic code of intrusive laws. Whilst the people of Jersey seek to be a vital component of the international community they are perhaps unknowingly and unwittingly being drawn into membership of the EU and thus in practice losing their self governance.

Can some one please update the "facts" on this article. Jersey IS part of Great Britain. Anyone with a Jersey BRITISH passport should know that.

dr richard hamling
My grandfather was a "Jerseyman", as my cousins who remain on the island. He was quite proud of that fact and would politely reminded those that error in calling him an Englishman or British. Given all that, I visit Jeresy each year to be near my roots, I think of myself as British/American, in truth however, Jerseyman/American. Although I have property in the UK, Jersey is where my heart is,however .... One can not help but love it.

I just found this page by accident and I am reading all your comments with great interest. Being German, I can't understand what is so wrong about being British... just be happy about whatever you are as you don't have to carry such a dark history around with you like we Germans do.... no, I am not begging for compassion or something like that - I never would dare. I am just having a look from the outside: you seem to be pretty British and having a look on the globe you belong to Europe. Why should that be bad? Governments can change in a democracy, can't they? And money rules the world - that is not a Jersey effect - it's the same everywhere...

The website says Jersey is not a part of Europe. This can't be bcos, like Cyprus and the Faroes, we're a European island. Likewise, Japan is an Asian island and the Cape Verde islands are African.

Jersey is Dictatorship...

These defnitions of teritories could be defined differently, when applied to regions around the world. Essentialy, Jersey has been a nation, a country, and a sovereign realm since the the Duke of Normandy invaded England nearly 1,000 years ago. Jersey is a unique, self governing nation.Every country around the world taxes it's people, including Jersey. When the British talk of Jersey being a tax haven, it wrongly implies that Jersey is a part of England, and should answer to the English government. If only the 4,000 year history of Jersey was understood by the people residing in it.

If it's fine as it is now just let it do what the people want trial and improvement is the key to success

Edgar John
Yes Jersey is a country because it does have its own borders without having contact to UK

Mary Tod
Jersey is a place for wealthy Brits to avoid the tax man. It is also a place for deadbeats to hide from the long arm of the law in regards to avoiding there responsibilities to children that childsupport is owed.

Yep,Bill, geologists call Jersey "the granite oblong."

if jersey wants independence take all people not born in jersey out cut the ties with westminster and see what happens all your wealth is provided from abroad why bite the hand that feeds you

I think it would be a wise idea for the UK to consolidate all its overseas territories (and crown dependancies) into a 5th home nation of the UK. All of Frances overseas areas are integral parts of their 5th Republic, why doesn't Britain do the same?

If we were fully independant, the island would become an absolutely awful place. We hate our government as they are, imagine if they didn't have the UK looking over their shoulder making sure they're behaving, it would be even worse!

Our status as a tax haven would become even worse because we could decide our tax laws without caring what the UK thinks.

Our passports have the British coat of arms on them, and we're all British citizens. What would being a Jersey citizen offer us? Less then being British!

Also, all of this talk about our own culture... We all support England in the world cup, we all eat fish and chips, no one eats bean crock anymore, we watch British tv programs, we get annoyed everytime Bergerac is mentioned, no one speaks Jerrais anymore, we speak English.... Where is this Jersey culture? We're British.

Bill Oddie
I'll tell you what Jersey is. One big granite rock! no more no less

Michael , your comments are based on what exactly, if they'd won the war we'd all be speaking German right? well how come germans speak german and not english or russian, seeing as we won it. Anyway, the UK and commenwealth head of state is half german so what

Ade points out that "our roots are in France." This assertion is correct in respect to Islanders of French, especially Normand and Breton extract, but what about everybody else?

In this day and age, Anglo-Saxon culture is dominant in the Island; the papers we read, the TV we watch, the music we listen to, even the language we speak on a daily basis reflects this.

Surely the link between the Island and GB is more important than the romanticised historic link to Normandy?

I remember a speech by our good Bailiff, who pointed out that Islanders owe allegiance to the Queen - the Duke of Normandy - rather to Britain or the British. The above comment totally disregards the fact that many Islanders' ancestors come from Mainland Great Britain and that their allegiances often reflect this.

Surely it is time to move on?

Ashley F
I wasn't entirely sure, until read some of the comments below. Now I'm fairly certain we live on a deranged leper colony.

Declan O'Grady
Jersey is not a country but it is a dictatorship run for the rich by the rich.It is in realily a toilet unless one is a millionaire.

Claudine Travers
I would prefer Jersey to be part of the uk because then maybe there would be more human wrights, equality and not so many things that happen in jersey would be covered up.

rob taylor lancashire
jersey is the most beutiful island in the british isles and givern half a chance i would move there tomorrow but there are more important things in life to bother about than who belongs where after all you have been british for centuries

Grannie P
As far as I know the Channel Islands are a crown possession, therefore I see us as an indepent islands people. We are however influenced by both uk and european policies.

I am Jersey born and proud of it {I am not proud of our goverment} I am also british through and through and totaly opposed to any type of Independance!With out Great Brittan we would not have the luxury of this disscusion we would be a German Colony I doubt many of of us would be alive if the terrible regime of Nazi Germany had won the war

We are a flaming ISLAND end of! history: French and British end of.

Don't you just get fed up with reading all this 'are we' or 'are we not' part of England/UK/Great Britain/British Isles etc etc? We're 14 miles from France, our roots are in France. Let's return to where we always should have been!

Sazzel And Eazzel and Mazzel and Zazzel
WE LOVE JERSEY (L) it is the home to our fabulous cows and lilies :) we should be proud to live in a fabbo country ....Love u 4eva jsy who cares if its a country we love you /.. numba one fanzzzz :D yay us :D

The geographical and political aspects are separate. Geographically Jersey is part of the British Isles but not politically. And Jersey is a British crown dependency not a UK one!

no its not a country, its a joke( a 45 square mile joke shop) full of greedy , tricky little people who wear smug grins and show off! harbouring tax evaders wont last forever.

If Jessica is anything to go by, the education in Jersey is no better than it is in England.

I would prefer Jersey to part of England and have no special statuts. It should be in the UK like the other islands around the coast of Great Britain.

i use to live iun jersey it is da best contry ever

David Singleton
I wish we were more independant, I wish that our politicians had the balls to stand up to the UK.We are a small island and are in danger of loosing our identity as we accept crazy EU directives to keep the UK politicians off our back - sonin answer to your question - No, we are not worthy of being called a country - unfortunately.

Michael Fielding, Hampshire
Pretty well each weekday morning, at 25 minutes past the hour and 5 minutes to the hour, there is a link on BBC Breakfast TV passing the viewer from 'Breakfast' (as they call it: horrible name to my mind) to the region where the viewer is based and reference always seems to be made to viewers being elsewhere in the UK.I seem to recall watching 'Breakfast' whilst on holiday in the Channel Islands and have wondered to the programme if their intention is to include the Channel Islands in their link and, if so, why do they refer to the UK when the CI are not part of the UK. I did suggest that they say 'country' but, upon reflection, now feel they should say British Isles. What do you think about this, I again wonder.

Agree with Jon, we need a close allegiance with the UK but we should be able to compete in international sports events like cricket and football.

I think we are perfectly alright as we are although it would great if we could compete in more international sporting events as a seperate nation. To ensure the post isn't lost, I use the term 'British Islands' in the address. I know we are not part of the United Kingdom or Great Britain but our allegiance is to the Crown and I think the vast majority of us would want things to stay that way.

Simon Vieira
Jersey is a country la.

Very interesting to read your comparisons with Hong Kong Mark - thanks.

Brian - Having been brought up in Hong Kong and now living in Jersey I find your comments a bit ridiculous.

Yes Hong Kong is built up, but its built up harbour makes it famous and is one of the modern wonders, far more so than anything Jersey has on a world scale.

Your also ignorant about how much greenery there is in Hong Kong, over 70% is not built upon and is green forest or open shrub land with amazing desserted beaches and more species of animals than the whole of Great Britain (and Jersey). By building upwards Hong Kong saved its natural charms.

Perhaps to save itself, Jersey needs to copy a city that is the envy of the world in finance, transport and in many other areas and is a 'nation' that I for one am very proud of! In many ways Hong Kong's relationship to China is very similar to Jersey's to the UK.

Before 1997 Hong Kong was the jewel of the UKs territories and dependencies - it was not Jersey. If Jersey wants markers on how to be successful on a world stage and how to develop then I would look no further.

Jersey should be independent from the UK but remain loyal to the Crown, ie., we should be completely self governing, and set our own tax laws in accordance with those of the EEC.

As an independent community we should be able to become part of the EEC, and represent ourselves in all maters financial.

If we were full members of the EEC then perhaps we would not have to rely so heavily on our finance industry for our prosperity.

At the moment our finance industry is becoming a 'bit of a burden' on the island's infrastructure with increasing demand placed on our recources by allowing the population to increase year by year to fuel the expansion and growth of the finance industry.

Our forefathers were always afraid that one day the island ( with it's low tax status ) would become just like Hong Kong, ie., completely built up with high rise structures all over the place.

Already with a population of some 90,000, or so, we are seeing increased social problems, as well as all the problems associated with too many people living in a confined area.

Lets hope the creeping concrete cancer currently covering the island will soon be eradicated completely, and thus preserve what's left of our beautiful island.

An Australian friend of mine asked about the size of our island, and it's population. When I told him that it was approximately 9 by 5 miles in area with a population of some 90,000 people, he said " blimey they must all be clinging to the rock "!!

Having said all that I would say that, by definition, Jersey is a very small country in it's own right.

People born in Jersey have British nationality given that Jersey is a UK dependency and a crown protectorate. Therefore, Jersey is not a nation- state.I am convinced that many Islanders would agree with me that they enjoy possessing British citizenship without being English and without the UK government running local affairs. Let's keep the status quo.
I am a Jersey born woman living in England and I believe the island should be self governing.Go for it.

Jersey is the last remnant of the Duchy of Normandy to be held by the British Monarch who holds the title Duke of Normandy as far as we're concerned. That's why we're British, it in a nutshell, we're a bit of an anacronism really! I think we're better off staying that way, too.

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