Jersey is the largest and most southerly of the Channel Islands and home to around 99,000 people. The Island sits 85 miles off the south coast of England and 14 miles from the North West coast of France.Jersey’s constitutional and economic history has ensured that the Island has long been an outward-facing community. Today, in its role as a leading international finance centre, a major tourist destination and a hub of digital creativity, Jersey continues to welcome visitors from, and do business with, countries and jurisdictions across the globe.
The Island has its own democratically elected parliament, the States of Jersey Assembly.
There are 49 elected members of the States: 8 Senators (elected on an Island wide mandate), 12 Connétables (representing the parishes of the Island) and 29 constituency Deputies. General Elections are held every four years with the next due in April 2018. The majority of States Assembly Members sit as independents. There is one registered political party in Jersey with three Assembly Members at present.
Key functions of the States Assembly include:
The Assembly is also responsible for electing the Chief Minister and Ministers (on an individual basis), as well as the chairmen and members of various parliamentary committees and scrutiny panels which play an important role in holding the government to account.
The Council of Ministers is the Government of Jersey. The Council is led by the Chief Minister and made up of ten other Ministers. The Government has responsibility for all of Jersey’s domestic and fiscal affairs and increasingly, the Island’s international affairs.
Over the last century, the Island’s economy has undergone a significant transformation. From an economy based largely on the traditional industries of agriculture and fisheries, Jersey developed into a well-known tourist destination and has further evolved to become a leading international finance centre.
Agriculture remains an important part of Island-life with agricultural land accounting for 54% of the Island’s land cover. The main crop is the world-renowned Jersey Royal Potato, with £27 million worth of exports in 2012 alone. The Island is also home to the famous Jersey cow. Islanders are proud of the high quality milk and other dairy products it produces which continue to find markets across the globe.
Tourism also continues as a significant sector of the Island’s economy. With its sandy beaches and unspoiled landscapes, as well as high quality restaurants, historical landmarks and beautiful scenery, Jersey remains a leading tourist destination, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Today, it is the financial sector which is the powerhouse of the Jersey economy, responsible for around a quarter of employment on the Island and around 40% of economic output. Jersey’s status as one of the world’s leading international financial centres is based on the range and depth of experience within our financial and professional services sector, our stable political system, our long-established legal system as well as our commitment to the latest international standards of regulation and information exchange.
More recently, the Government of Jersey has sought to develop the increasingly key and rapidly growing digital sector on the Island. As a result of the roll-out of high speed fibre optic broadband and the creation of a digital hub in St Helier, alongside an array of education programmes to equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in this area, Jersey is swiftly garnering a reputation as a leading digital centre.
Culture Jersey’s Norman ancestry gives the Island its own unique cultural feel, evidenced by the French street names, Norman style farmhouses and narrow winding ‘green’ lanes.
Jersey’s coastline also bears the hallmarks of its rich and diverse history, ranging from Mont Orgueil castle, built at the beginning of the 13th century, to the Martello towers of the Napoleonic wars which continue to dot the shoreline. More recently, the Island’s coastline has featured the extensive remains of the Nazi fortifications built as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall during the occupation of the Channel Islands from 1940-1945.
Today, Jersey benefits from being a culturally diverse Island with a growing number of citizens representing different nationalities coming to live and work in the Island. The UK (31%), Portuguese/Madeiran (7%) and Polish (3%) communities are particularly well established as part of the Island community.
The Island, as it has been for centuries, is divided into 12 parishes. The civic head of each parish is known as the Connétable or Constable. The parishes play a key part in community life, standing as the bedrock for local democracy and Honorary Service. Each parish operates its own Honorary and elected police force which maintains order in the parish and works alongside the full time States of Jersey Police force to support major Island and parish events. The Parish Hall enquiry is also an effective (informal and non-court) approach to dealing with youth offending in Jersey and minor offences committed by adults.