1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

The British Islands - Britain's Offshore Islands May Not Be What They Seem


1 of 6

The Channel Islands Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney Are British...Or Are They?
Windswept Alderney

On Alderley, trees bend to the prevailing Atlantic winds

Great Britain - that part of the UK that includes England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland - is surrounded by islands. Some, like the Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall and Orkney, off Scotland, are part of the UK.

But others, in particular, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm, like the Isle of Man, are independent (sort of - as you will see) states with their own governments and laws and an oddly tangled relationship with the UK. During World War II, the British Channel Islands were the only parts of the British Isles to be occupied by the Nazis.

To Be or Not to Be...A Brit

The people of these islands, for example, are British subjects but not necessarily British citizens. Their UK passports do not give them the same rights to live and work in Europe enjoyed by UK citizens. Unless, of course, they have a parent or grandparent born in the UK, or they have lived in the UK for five years. In practice, that means just about everyone.

How these islands arrived at their unusual status is a fascinating historical hiccup.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.