Channel Islands, a group of islands belonging to Great Britain, in the English channel, between lat. 49° and 49° 50' N., and lon. 2° and 2° 45' W., off the N. W. coast of France, between Normandv and Brittanv; shortest distance from the French coast, 15 m., and from the English coast at Southampton, 115 m.; area, about 75 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 90,-563. The islands are: Jersey, pop. 56,627; Guernsey, with the islets Herm and Jethou, 30,007; Alderney, 2,718; and Sark, 551. The picturesque situation, the moderate cost of living, the mild climate, and the lightness of the taxes render these islands a favorite resort, and they are easily accessible by steamers from Southampton and Weymouth. The vernacular is the old Norman French, but the modern French is now used in the law courts. English is spoken in the towns. The soil is fertile, but owing to the minute subdivision of the land, agriculture is in a rather backward state. Horticulture and floriculture are flourishing. The principal manure is seaweed, which is also largely used for the production of kelp and iodine. The breed of cattle known as Alder-neys are noted for their small size, symmetry, and excellence as milkers. Cattle raising, the dairy, and fishing are the principal occupations of the inhabitants.
The exports to the United Kingdom, comprising cider, wine, apples, and potatoes, amounted in 1870 to £457,389; and the imports, mainly manufactures, wheat, flour, sugar, and coffee, to £916,138. Near Ortach passage, about 6 m. W. of Alderney, are the Caskets, a dangerous cluster of rocks, where Prince William, only son of Henry I., perished in 1120; and the Victory with 1,100 men was lost here in 1744. Many lighthouses have been built off the islands within a few years. - These islands were known to the Romans, and are the only portions of the former duchy of Normandy now belonging to Great Britain, to which they have been attached since the conquest. They still retain a certain independent status, the government being administered by states, the members of which are partly named by the crown, partly chosen by the people, while others sit ex officio. Each of the principal islands has a military lieutenant governor, who sits in the states as representative of the crown. The high sheriff is variously called the vicomte and the prevot. The royal court in each island consists of the bailiff or judge and the jurats or magistrates. There is no trial by jury, but an appeal may be made to the sovereign in council.
The fortifications of the islands cost £500,000 annually, while the revenue is only about £20,000.