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Territory of the Channel Islands (en)
Territoire d'Îles-du-détroit (fr)
Incorporated organized territory of Sierra
Flag of the Channel Islands Coat of arms of the Channel Islands
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Channels, Detroit(s)
Motto(s): Il détient les clés de la liberté
(French: He holds the keys of freedom)
Territorial song(s): "Ces Eaux Bleues
(French: These Blue Waters)
"
Map of the Channel Islands
Official language(s) French, English
Demonym Channelier(s)
Capital Avalon
Largest city Little Gibraltar
Area Ranked N/A
 • Total 351 sq mi
(909 km2)
Population Ranked N/A
 • Total 2,228,775 (2010)
 • Density 2451.1/sq mi  (946.68/km2)
Ranked –
Elevation
 • Highest point Devils Peak
2,429 ft (740 m)
 • Lowest point Sea level
sea level
Political status Never admitted as a province
Lord Proprietor Olivier Lémieux (Earl of Catalina)
Governor Claire Porcher
Lieutenant Governor Felix Bélanger
Legislature Channel Islands Legislature (Unicameral)
 • Upper house None
 • Lower house None
K.S. House delegation 1 resident commissioner
Jean-Robert Verner
Time zone Pacific Time Zone
UTC –8/UTC –7
Abbreviations ID, KS-ID, CI-ID, CI
Channel Islands Symbols
Flag of the Channel Islands
The Flag of Channel Islands.

Coat of arms of the Channel Islands
The Seal of Channel Islands.

Animate insignia
Amphibian Channel Islands slender salamander
Bird(s) Pigeon guillemot
Fish Sierra moray/Garibaldi
Flower(s) Island tree mallow
Mammals Island fox
Reptile Island night lizard
Tree Torrey pine

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Catalina grenadine
Colors Red, blue, yellow
Dance Channel Bourrée
Food Chaudiere de Détroit
Instrument Harp
Ship(s) HIMS Detroits
Slogan(s) La vie est belle
Song(s) Ces Eaux Bleues
Sport Pétanque

Route marker(s)
Channel Islands Route Marker


Part of a series on the provinces and territories of Sierra
The Channel Islands (French: Îles-du-détroit), also known as The Channels (French: Les Détroits) are a Sierran archipelago located off the coast of southwestern mainland Sierra along the Santa Barbara Channel. The Channels constitute one of the eight territories of Sierra, and the only one of which that are incorporated territory of Sierra and an integral part of the Kingdom as opposed to being a mere possession as the unincorporated territories and crown dependencies. The territory has a total area of 351 square miles and has a population of approximately 2,229,000.

The main islands are dispersed across 160 miles (257 km) of the Santa Barbara Channel and are divided into two groups: the uninhabited northern islands, known as the King Lewis Islands (Îles-du-Roi-Louis) include Anacapa (Île Anacapa), San Miguel (Île Saint-Michael), Santa Cruz (Île Saint-Croix), and Santa Rosa (Île Saint-Rose) and the populated southern islands, known as the Queen Angelina Islands (Îles-du-Reine-Angèle), include Santa Barbara (Île Saint-Barbe), Santa Catalina (Île Saint-Catherine), Santa Clemente (Île Saint-Clément), and San Nicolas (Île Saint-Nicolas). The entirety of four of the islands constitute a part of the Channel Islands National Park whose waters are protected ecological areas known as the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

The islands' beaches, climate, marine wildlife, culture, ease-of-doing business, unique cuisine, and its close proximity to the mainland make the Channels a popular tourist destination and tax haven among Sierrans. The Channels have a very mild subtropical climate with consistently warm temperatures year-round and virtually frost-free at all low elevations. Snow, if it does occur, very rarely falls on the highest mountains in the islands. Access to most of the islands are primarily done by ferry, with the exception for Catalina Island, the islands' biggest and most populated. The island is connected to the mainland by the San Pedro–Bonaparte Tunnel, a fixed link tunnel-bridge between Grands Ballons and Little Gibraltar. It is one of the world's longest undersea tunnels and was completed in 1998, featuring a two-lane highway in both directions and a rail system that supports simultaneous service to passengers and freight.

Originally inhabited by the Chumash and the Tongva, the islands were claimed by the Spaniards before falling under the joint administration of French and Spanish authorities as the French-Spanish Condominium. By the late 18th century, the Channels experienced rapid population growth and infrastructural development as French colonists arrived to the islands. The majority of the Channels' natives are descendants of these French colonists, and the Channels retain a distinct and independent French culture and identity from mainland Sierra. When the Condominium was disestablished through the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1802, the Channels was transferred to Spain fully although the islands continued to retain their autonomy, even after Mexico gained independence and consequently gained control of the islands in 1821. When the California Republic gained its independence from Mexico in 1848, the islands were included as part of the Mexican Cession in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Following the creation of the Kingdom of Sierra, the Channels were formally annexed into the province of the Gold Coast, and would remain a part of it until 1999 when Gold Coasters and Channeliers voted in Proposition 11 to grant the Channels to form a new territory and received approval by Parliament. The Channels are the most recent territorial areas created in Sierra since the annexation of Cancún and Yucatán in 1922, and the first territory to be incorporated since the foundation of Sierra.

The capital of the Channel Islands is Avalon, a city-port situated on the southeastern coast of Santa Catalina. Avalon was the Channels' first settlement and has been the largest since the islands were first settled. A resort city, it has, in recent years, become an important regional financial center, mostly serving Sierran offshore banks in part to the Channels' low taxes and attractive economic policies. There are eight other incorporated towns distributed throughout the islands: Cachalot-by-the-Sea, Cassis, Karana, Little Gibraltar (a renowned gambling center), New Bourbon (the Channels' largest city), Pyramide, Seals on Rock, and Two Harbors.

The islands are administered by the Territorial Governor and the Monarch is represented in the Channels by the Earl of Catalina. The Channels' supreme legislature, the Channel Islands Legislature and the Channel's supreme court, the Territorial High Court are also both based in Avalon. Both English and French are the official languages of the Channel Islands' territorial government, with the majority of Channeliers being bilingual or even multilingual. The retention of the French language is a legacy of the islands' colonial history and a distinct Channelier dialect of French is spoken. Due to its proximity and history with the Gold Coast, a large number of Channeliers live on the mainland, and they are closely linked with the Sierran Creole community found there.

The Channels' inhabitants are known as the Channeliers (Les Détroitiens) and Channeliers are natural-born citizens of the Kingdom of Sierra. Although the Channels are incorporated territory, they do not have any voting representation in Parliament (they have a resident commissioner in the House of Commons) nor may they participate in federal prime ministerial elections due to their status as a territory rather than a province. In June 2017, the Channel Islands voted for provincehood by a vote of 86%–14%. Since then, the Channels has entered into a negotiation period with Parliament to ensure a seamless transition by 2019.

Etymology

The names, the "Channel Islands" and the "Channels" are a reference to the islands' location within the Santa Barbara Channel, the body of water which separates the Channels from the Sierran mainland. The islands as they were originally known when first discovered by the Europeans was the "North Archipelago" (Spanish: Archipiélago del Norte). Historically, under the joint administration of France and Spain, the islands were known as the French-Spanish Condominium (El Condominio Francés-Español in Spanish and Le condominium Français-Espagnol in French). Its modern name was first given by the French-speaking Channeliers who called the islands, the Íles-du-détroit (literally "Islands of Strait") the and the derivative, Détroits. When the Channel Islands were transferred from Mexico to California through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the islands were referred to in English as the "Channel Islands of California", thus formalizing the islands' English name and adding clarification to avoid being mistaken for the English Channel Islands. Each of the main individual islands of the Channels in English are referred to by their Spanish-given names, as opposed to the French names commonly used on the islands themselves (e.g., Santa Catalina instead of Saint-Catherine).

The word Channelier (pronounced "Shanna-leer" or "Shan-ne-leer", less commonly pronounced as "Channel-leer") is the adjective used to describe the Channels, and is also the demonym used to describe the residents of the Channels. In French, the adjective form of the Channels is Détroitien and its people are Les Détroitien.

History

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was the first European credited to explore the Channel Islands.

Pre-settlement

The Channel Islands have been separated from the Sierran mainland throughout recent geological history and all of its native flora and fauna came from the mainland either by air or sea. The earliest known human settlement in the Channels occurred around 13,000 years ago by seafaring Paleo-Indians. Archaeological evidence has suggested that human activity flourished on the islands, with the Queen Angelina Islands inhabited by the Chumash and the King Lewis Islands by the Tongva. The tribes primarily lived on a pescatarian diet although they also ate seeds and fruits that grew on the islands, and any meat they hunted. The natives interacted with other tribes on the mainland and other groups as far north as the Aleuts, the latter who came to hunt otters during the early 1800s.

The Channels were first sighted and explored by Europeans in 1542 by Spanish-Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who was navigating the Sierran coastline under the commission of the Spanish crown. Arriving on Santa Catalina Island first in October 1542, he also passed by San Clemente Island, and the King Lewis Islands. On his return trip from northern Sierra, Cabrillo suffered an injury on Catalina during Christmas Eve, and died a week later into the new year.

The next European to visit the islands was Sebastián Vizcaíno, another Spanish explorer, who was entrusted by the Spanish viceroy to find suitable, natural harbors along the Sierran coast for Spanish ships returning from Asia. Vizcaíno is credited with giving the modern names of various geographic features including the individual islands of the Channels. Vizcaíno's arrival coincided with the decline of native populations due to the Indians' lack of immunity to the introduced Old World diseases.

Colonial period

French-Spanish Condominium

Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the Channels' founder.

While towards the end of the 17th century, Spain had begun mobilizing to settle the Sierran mainland, the Channels were left undisturbed until the arrival of French admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1767. Bougainville, who was on a circumnavigation expedition commissioned by Louis XV, visited the Spanish California colonies including the Channels, and was impressed by its natural geography. Seeking to establish a French settlement in the North American West Coast, Bougainville received the permission of the Spaniards to leave behind 30 of his men on Catalina Island with a 3-month supply of nutrition and the Étoile. Although Bougainville would never return to the Channels, his men established the town of Louisville on the central eastern coastline of the Catalina. Due to the island's lack of lumber-yielding plants, as well as freshwater, the men quickly sought the assistance of the Spaniards. Initially, their request was ignored and the Spanish had made plans to evict the Frenchmen from the island. However, on May 9, 1768, according to tradition, the Marian apparition Our Lady of Catalina appeared before both the French and the Spaniards near the eastern banks of the island. Several eyewitness accounts reported seeing the Virgin Mary, and one even claimed "her glory exceeded that of the sun and the waters shined white".

Following this event, the Spanish were convinced that settlement on the island was destined, and allowed the French to continue developing. For the first few years, development of Louisville was sluggish, mainly due to complications of transportation between the island and the mainland. As the constant threat of food shortages loomed, the need for resources for basic survival was apparent. Outsourcing raw material and resources that could otherwise be expended on the missions was costly for the Spanish and by 1773, the Spaniards threatened to stop providing resources unless the French colonists could provide something in return. Upon the discovery of a natural, underground spring however, the colonists began developing an irrigation system that could sustain agriculture. Hearing this, local Spanish authorities provided the French seeds of various fruits and vegetables as well as farm animals. Saplings of trees from the mainland were transplanted as well, although at the cost of native flora that were destroyed or out-competed by the introduced species. Many of these unique species went extinct by the turn of the 20th century, due to agricultural development.

Flag of the French-Spanish Condominium

The flag of the French-Spanish Condominium

To allow the colony to continue growing, the French and the Spaniards established the Condominium which would place the islands under joint operation, thereby allowing the two to freely move on and settle or move off the islands to the mainland. Future Condominium politician Rodrigo Lémieux, son of a French father and mestizo mother, became the first European to be born on the islands. The population of the Condominium shortly before the arrival of French naval officer Jean-François de Galaup in 1786 was about 430, all in the town of Bougainville.

Upon the arrival of De Galaup, the officer's arrival marked the first time since Bougainville that non-settling French nationals officially visited the islands. De Galaup gave the colony various gifts of value and jewelry to the islands as a token of the King's approval, and brought along prospective settlers including orphaned les filles du roi in search of husbands in the New World.

The Condominium became an important and vital component to Alta California, providing resources and labor to Spanish development. In 1795, Mission Saint Catherine d'Alexandrie (Mission Santa Catalina de Alejandría) was founded just north of Bougainville in present-day Little Gibraltar, as the official Channels auxilliary mission for the enslaved natives who were sent to the islands to work.

When news of the French Revolution arrived to the Channels, many colonists who still held strong loyalties to the Monarchy were particularly distraught. Although the Revolution did not provoke the Channels into republican sentiments as some of the other Spanish colonies gravitated towards to, the Spanish Inquisition established a firmer presence in the islands following the execution of Louis XVI and the Reign of Terror, signaling an end to the French-Spanish Condominium.

Citizens' Council

Philippe Roland

Philippe Roland, the first Governor-General of the Citizen's Council

In 1802, France, now under the control of Napoleon, formally ceded control of the Condominium and the Italian region of Tuscany to Spain through the Third Treaty of San Idelfonso, in exchange for reacquiring Louisiana from Spain. While the Condominium was dissolved and the Spanish government was now in full control of the islands, the Spanish colonial government allowed the continued tradition of self-government, only requiring that the citizens remained faithful Catholics, learned basic Spanish, and swore full allegiance to the Spanish crown and its viceregal representatives. In response to this, the Channels formally organized the Citizens' Council, a body of elected officials headed by a governor-general who was appointed and approved by the Spanish Viceroy. Philippe Roland, a wealthy native-born merchant, was appointed as the Council's first governor-general and oversaw the expansion of the islands.

The Council, hoping to explore the other islands, petitioned to the Spanish crown for funds to support a colonization project in San Clemente Island and a full expeditionary tour of all the Channels in 1804. The Spanish approved the plan, although required the colonists to agree that any lands outside their established town limits could be subject to land grants as ranchos to outside buyers.

A successful campaign in San Clemente, under the commission of Governor-General Roland, led to the establishment of New Bourbon which saw 50 colonists permanently move to the site upon its founding. New Bourbon and the rest of the island would remain sparsely populated until 1807 when a devastating fire broke out in Bougainville, destroying nearly every major building there and leaving over a thousand residents homeless. The majority of the survivors of the fire left to New Bourbon, thereby shifting the concentration of population from Santa Catalina to San Clemente while a minority remained on the original island and formed Little Gibraltar just north of former Bougainville. The arrival of the Order of Córdoba in Santa Catalina was welcomed by the Channeliers, and the state-sponsored, wealthy, and prestigious society provided sizable funds from its war chest to support the colonists' recovery.

Mexican period

Following a period of unrest in New Spain, particularly in response to the weakening grip of the Spanish Empire, Mexico fought for independence, obtaining such in 1821 and assuming control over most of the North American New Spain including the Channels and Sierra. Due to the small population living in Sierra, then known as Alta California, the area was classified as a territory as opposed to a constituent state. The only other significant population that lived near the Channels were the Sierran Creoles, who although were Francophones, were of mixed ancestry, and heavily discriminated against by the government. Initially, Mexico continued to honor the self-government that the Channels had exercised under Spanish control through the Citizens' Council. Like the Spaniards, Mexico required the citizens to be Catholic and to be able to speak Spanish.

Under the Mexican administration, the Spanish mission system was neglected as it failed to produce adequate funding to the missions. By 1827, the Mexican Congress passed an act officially declaring that all Spanish-born individuals were "foreigners" and forced the majority of clergymen out of the missions. While the act did not affect Channeliers, in 1833, the Mexican Congress passed an act following up the 1827 legislation by secularizing all the missions including the ones in the Channels. The Citizens' Council rejected the law and refused to force the Church to sell mission property, an act that enraged the local government and prompted military recourse from Mexico City. In response to the Council's defiance, the Mexican military sent a force of 250 men to enforce the law.

The Mexican military arrived unchallenged without incident, and the Council formally dissolved as Governor-General Marc Gaudin stepped down from his position and transferred the authority to the Mexican government. Mission Saint Catherine d'Alexandrie and Mission Saint-Clément were sold to the state and its clergy were dismissed, and the mission lands were put up to auction for Spanish soldiers. In addition, the members of the powerful but popular Order of Córdoba were evicted from the island and their assets were seized.The intrusion angered many Channeliers who did not appreciate the involvement of the Mexicans.

Mexican-American War

The intrusion and violation of Channelier rule by the Mexicans angered the citizens deeply. Feeling threatened by the erosion of their liberties and political autonomy, when the United States declared war on Mexico, the Channeliers supported the act, hoping it would force the Mexicans to divert their attention fully to the east. When news of American and Californio citizens revolting against Mexican rule came to light, the Channeliers were inspired and revolted themselves on July 1, 1846, banishing Mexican authorities off the islands and raiding military despots for weaponry and ammunition.

The military move shocked and angered local Mexican authorities but were unable to adequately react as Porciúncula and San Diego began to react. As a result of intensified conflict in the mainland, Mexico would never return to the Channels for the remaining duration of the war, and after. Practically emancipated from Mexican rule, the Channels sided with the Americans and Californios, and volunteers were sent to participate in the war effort. When the war came to an end, the Channels were included in the Mexican Cession described in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thus transferring control of the Channels officially from Mexico to the California Republic. Although no Channelier dignitaries were present at the treaty negotiations, the Channels were generally complicit with the transfer.

Californian Channels

The Californian flag was officially raised over New Bourbon on June 13, 1849, and the Channels was placed under the jurisdiction of the State of Porciúncula.

Under the California Republic, the Channels, whose population stood at about 6,000 at the time, were able to send two representatives to the California Congress during the Republic's brief 10 years of existence. Respecting the tradition of Channelier autonomy, the Republic restored former mission property and lands to the Church, and established a network of constables in the islands to provide protection from potential Mexican backlash.

When the Republic was reorganized into the Kingdom of Sierra after its adoption of the 1858 Constitution, the Channeliers voiced their support to the newly coronated King Smith I by sending the Sierran Royal Family an elaborate, 15-foot long quilt as a token of goodwill and approval. The Constitution, the culmination of the 1857 California Constitutional Convention, was partially authored by and deliberated by two Channeliers who were selected and sent as dignitary-envoys: Pierre Roleau and Marc Boileau.

Channels in the new Kingdom

Postwar Channels

The Channel Islands was formally incorporated into the Kingdom of Sierra as a constituent part of the Gold Coast. François Roland was appointed as the first Lord Proprietor of the Channels, a title that was changed into the Earl of Catalina during Roland's tenure by order of the King. The Channels' incorporation into the Kingdom coincided a time when the human development of the islands had severely devastated the local environment, with soil nutrients depleted. The advent of early modern nitrogen-based fertilizer in San Joaquin however, allowed the Channels a chance to revitalize its soil. Transportation of fertilizer and other essentials to and from the Channels proved to be costly. As a result, the local shipping industry drove up prices to offset the personal costs, at the expense of Channeliers. The move angered the locals, and following a civilian raid of ships stocked with fertilizer in Little Gibraltar, the Channelier government petitioned to Parliament for subsidization. Parliament passed the Soil and Agricultural Essentials Relief Act of 1863, part of a larger national plan of providing financial support to farmers and rural workers, enforcing a price ceiling on both fertilizer businesses and shipping companies. The passage of the Act was well-received by many Channeliers, solidifying local support for the new Kingdom.

Industrial Revolution

The technological advancements brought by the Second Industrial Revolution helped modernize Channelier society. Although the Channels would remain a predominantly agrarian area until the late 1950s, steam-powered engines used on tractors and boats made it easier to produce and sell food. Channelier towns received improvements on roads and buildings, and the ports of Little Gibraltar and New Bourbon were upgraded, with greater accommodations for docked ships. Several factories specializing in fertilizer and textiles, were also established on the Channels, mostly on the northern side of Catalina Island.

Founding of Avalon

For decades, Avalon Bay was known among locals as a calm bay suitable for fishing and sailing. A small village, Avignon, was built in 1872 by Little Gibraltarians who disagreed with the original town's taxes. Moving past the former ruins of Bougainville, the southern tip of Catalina Island was an ideal vantage point for travel between the island and the mainland, and San Clemente. George Shatto, a wealthy real estate speculator from the United Commonwealth, purchased Avalon Bay from its owner, James Lick, a mainlander carpenter, for $25,000, built Hôtel Metropole, and Avalon's original pier. Shatto originally named his settlement after himself, but his sister-in-law, Etta Whitney, offered the name Avalon in direct reference to a line found in the poem, "Idylls of the King" by Lord Tennyson.

In 1891, the sons of Phineas Banning purchased Avalon Bay and the vicinity from the Licks and established the Santa Catalina Island Company with the intention of creating a resort on the bay. The resort featured a dancing pavilion, extensions to Hôtel Metropole, an aquarium, a steamer-wharf, a gambling club, and several restaurants. Unfortunately, due to a fire in 1915, half of Avalon's towns were destroyed, and the Bannings were forced to sell their assets to recover their losses in 1919 during World War I. William Wrigley, Jr., an Appalachian-born Sierran entrepreneur and founder of the chewing gum Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, bought most of the shares to the Banning properties, and spent millions of dollars in investment to construct the Catalina Casino and other buildings, and infrastructure improvements. He managed to gain the support of the local Channeliers who came to visit, and mainlanders had better access to the properties through Wrigley's purchase of several steamboats.

By the time Avalon was under the new leadership of Wrigley Jr.'s son, Philip K. Wrigley, the resort community had expanded considerably with a population of roughly 400. The establishment of several military installations and training facilities in the town boosted the islands' economy, and brought more servicemen to the shores. The tourist industry in Avalon also popularized the Channels as a convenient, and close place to visit by Sierran mainlanders, propelling the islands toward its present-day economy and international recognition.

Growth of the Channels

Contemporary history

Proposition 11

In the 1998 general elections, after several years of intensive campaigning, an initiative with enough signatures regarding the secession of the Channel Islands from the Gold Coast appeared on the ballot. The initiative would allow the Channel Islands to legally secede from the Province of the Gold Coast, and become its own territory, whilst remaining a part of the Kingdom. Supporters for the initiative hoped that following its secession, the Channels would be admitted as a province in its own right, allowing the Channels to be represented by their own members of Parliament and senators, privileges that would be lost while remaining a territory.

Post-proposition period

As a new territory, the Channels adopted the name Territoire d'Îles-du-détroit (Territory of the Channel Islands) and recognized the Kingdom's supremacy over the islands. Olivier Lémieux was appointed by Queen Angelina I as the islands' first Lord Proprietor and the Channels held its first territorial-wide elections in October 1999.

In 2002, the Channels hosted the 55th All-American Grand Prix in Little Gibraltar, bringing greater attention from the international scene to the Channels' growing and vibrant economy. The subsequent years saw significant rises in international visits to the islands, bringing over 2.2 million foreign visitors in 2012. Cassis and New Bourbon also transitioned into resort cities in the early 2000s in response to the rising popularity and tourist volume garnered in Little Gibraltar.

Geography

Channel Islands topographic

Topographic map of the Channel Islands

The archipelago of the Channels is located off the coast of southwestern Sierra in the Santa Barbara Channel of the Pacific Ocean. Extending along a west-northwest to east south-east orientation, the islands span an area approximately 160 miles (257 km) between San Miguel Island to Santa Cruz Island. Together, the total area of the islands is about 346 square miles (900 km2) or 221,331 acres (89,569 ha).

Situated within the Southwest Corridor Bight, the Channels lie directly between two major ocean currents (the California Current and the Davidson Current), with its waters consistently receiving a southward upwelling that feeds nutrient-rich, cooler water into the area. These oceanic activities are responsible for the Channels and the rest of the coastal regions of the Southwest Corridor's mild climate, and support large populations of marine animals and fisheries. During the El Niño season, the California Current is disrupted and causes a drop in phytoplankton population and consequently, other species up the local food chain.

Like much of the North American West Coast, the Channels are vulnerable to earthquake activity, largely due to its position near the border of the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate (manifested as the San Andreas Fault) and its location within the Ring of Fire.

Generally, the Channel Islands is included in the Southwest Corridor as an integral part of the region, a courtesy not extended onto the Los Pacíficos. Under the broadest definitions, the cities of the Channel Islands including Little Gibraltar, Avalon, and New Bourbon may be included in the tri-state Greater Porciúncula Area and the Porciúncula-Grands Ballons-St. Anne metropolitan area definitions.

Climate

For the most part, the Channel Islands exhibit a warm Mediterranean climate (Köppen: CSb) with slight to moderate variations across all the islands. Generally, summers are dry and warm, while winters are milder and cool with substantial rainfall. Temperature difference is marginal and generally consistent year-round, characteristics similar to the coastal region of the Sierran mainland. Precipitation usually occurs between November and March, averaging 8 to 20 inches annually. The wettest month for the Channels is February while the driest is August. Snowfall and frost are extremely rare or even non-existent on some islands. Fog is common on some islands during the summer months of May and June.

Climate data for Louis Antoine de Bougainville Airport, Avalon, Channel Islands (1981–2010, extremes 1948–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
(29)
87
(31)
90
(32)
92
(33)
96
(36)
101
(38)
100
(38)
103
(39)
104
(40)
98
(37)
89
(32)
81
(27)
104
(40)
Average high °F (°C) 60.4
(15.8)
60.2
(15.7)
61.2
(16.2)
62.5
(16.9)
65.6
(18.7)
69.1
(20.6)
75.4
(24.1)
77.6
(25.3)
75.4
(24.1)
71.7
(22.1)
64.8
(18.2)
59.3
(15.2)
67.0
(19.4)
Daily mean °F (°C) 55.0
(12.8)
54.2
(12.3)
54.9
(12.7)
55.7
(13.2)
58.9
(14.9)
61.7
(16.5)
67.4
(19.7)
69.7
(20.9)
68.5
(20.3)
64.7
(18.2)
58.9
(14.9)
53.9
(12.2)
60.3
(15.7)
Average low °F (°C) 49.5
(9.7)
48.2
(9)
48.5
(9.2)
48.9
(9.4)
52.1
(11.2)
54.3
(12.4)
59.5
(15.3)
61.7
(16.5)
61.5
(16.4)
57.7
(14.3)
53.0
(11.7)
48.6
(9.2)
53.7
(12.1)
Record low °F (°C) 29
(−2)
32
(0)
36
(2)
39
(4)
43
(6)
45
(7)
49
(9)
50
(10)
48
(9)
41
(5)
37
(3)
34
(1)
29
(−2)
Average rainfall inches (mm)
Source: Royal Climate Administration

Flora and fauna

Sierra moray eel

The Sierra moray eel, a native species of the Channels, is featured on the islands' flag and seal as its official animal.

Due to the islands' geographic isolation and remoteness from the mainland, the number of terrestrial species identified as endemic to the Channels is only 23, with 11 of them being avian subspecies of mainland birds. Among the fauna include the ashy storm petrel, the Channel Islands deer mouse, the Channel Islands spotted skunk, the island fence lizard, the Santa Cruz sheep, and the island fox. Human activity and the introduction of non-native species have threatened the islands' tiny ecosystem, having placed both the spotted skunk and island fox for example, into critical endangerment and prompting conservation efforts to preserve such species.

Garibaldi fish

Garibaldi, as one is seen here swimming off the coast of Catalina Island, are a federally protected endemic species.

The Channels' marine ecosystem on the other hand, is exceptionally diverse and rich with wildlife including pinippeds (seals and sea lions), sharks, eels, cetaceans (whales and dolphins), algae, fish, and invertebrates flourishing in the waters. San Miguel Island supports the only major northern fur seal rookery south of the Aleutian Islands. During the winter, Pacific gray whales pass by the Channels during their seasonal migration from the Alyeskan states of Berin and Klondike to the Los Pacíficos and are a major attraction for tourists and residents alike.

Political geography

The Territory of the Channel Islands consists of three parishes (Boudeuse, Étoile, and Galaup) and one special district (Cabrillo). The parishes are each governed by five-member Board of Supervisors representing each of the respective parishes' five arrondissements and cities. The Board of Supervisors are responsible for issuing local ordinances and laws, similar to the boards found in the counties of Sierran provinces.

In addition, each parish has its own court system and emergency service departments, and is charged with directly administrating all parish areas not part of an incorporated town. Parishes also have the responsibility to hold elections, process voter registration, keep records, collect and levy taxes, and many other functions. Within each parish, residents are represented in one of the five arrondissements which are local districts responsible for managing local electoral precincts, distributing and providing public utilities, and operating law enforcement.

Boudeuse includes the city of Avalon and the rest of Catalina Island south of Little Gibraltar, Étoile includes the rest of Catalina Island and Santa Barbara Island, and Galaup includes San Clemente and San Nicolas. The special district of Cabrillo has no permanent, civilian population and is conterminous with the Channel Islands National Park (all of the Queen Angelina Islands or Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa) and is administered directly by the Sierran Royal National Park Service in conjunction with the Channel Islands territorial government.

Parishes and Arrondissements of the Channel Islands
  • Boudeuse
    Flag of Boudeuse

    Flag of Boudeuse

    • Avalon
    • Furcula
    • Petit Port
    • Windward
    • Wrigley
  • Étoile
    Flag of Étoile

    Flag of Étoile

    • Bonaparte
    • Caverne Bleue
    • Isthme
    • Ollas
    • West End
  • Galaup
    Flag of Galaup

    Flag of Galaup

    • Bourbon
    • Criques du Sud
    • Montagnes
    • La Scission
    • San Nicolas
  • Cabrillo

Government and politics

Avalon

Avalon, the capital city and center of government and politics of the Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are the only territories in Sierra that is both incorporated and organized (all others are either unincorporated but organized, or unincorporated and unorganized). Having previously been a constituent part of incorporated territory (the province of the Gold Coast), the Channels retained their incorporated status. As incorporated territory, Channeliers enjoy the full and complete protections, privileges, and rights granted by the Constitution of Sierra although as a territory, Channeliers are not represented in Parliament by representatives who can vote on the floor. Like all territorial components of Sierra, the Channel Islands is subject to the provisions of the Charter for the Kingdom of Sierra and is classified as a territory within the constituent country of Sierra, not the Kingdom proper. As a result of gaining territorial status, the Channels forfeited their representation in Parliament (losing their representation by the two senators of the Gold Coast and the commoner whose constituency lied within the islands) following secession.

Olivier Lémieux

Olivier Lémieux, the current Earl of Catalina

The Earl of Catalina, Olivier Lémieux, is the Queen of Sierra's viceregal representative in the Channel Islands while the head of the Channelier government is Territorial Governor Claire Porcher, who was elected into office in 2012. The Earl is appointed by the Queen and serves at her pleasure, and is responsible for fulfilling all of the ceremonial duties of the Monarchy during the Queen's absence. In addition, all acts of the Legislature must be proclaimed and signed by the Earl in order to take full effect as law. The Earl is also the ceremonial head of the Channelier National Guard as its commander-in-chief. The Territorial Governor is elected directly by Channelier citizens and is responsible for administering the executive branch, enforcing government policies, planning the territorial budget, and other executive duties. In addition, like the Sierran fusionist system at the Kingdom-level, the Channelier Territorial Governor is the President of the unicameral Channel Islands Legislature and is permitted to lead and moderate discussions and debates, draft and introduce bills to the floor, and vote on said bills.

Catalina Casino

The Catalina Casino, the meeting place of the Channel Islands Legislature

The Channel Islands Legislature is the 20-member unicameral body including the Governor, of which all of whom, are elected on four-year terms. The territory has 19 districts and 1 at-large district from the 3 counties, with each regular district encompassing from 20,000 to 500,000 constituents (both voting eligible and non-eligible citizens). The Parti de l'unité (Unity Party), the Channelier affiliate of the mainland Royalist Party, have been in continuous, uninterrupted control of the legislature since the territory's independence from the Gold Coast in 1999. Prior to the Channels' separation from the province, the islands had been represented by conservative Royalist assembly members since 1910. The Legislature convenes daily at the Catalina Casino, the landmark building at Sugarloaf Point in Avalon. Despite its name, the Catalina Casino has never had any gambling function, and the original use of the term casino, was a reference to the Italian word's meaning for "meeting house".

The highest court of the Channel Islands is the Territorial High Court which is headed by the Chief Magistrate and their six associate judges. Lower, inferior courts include the Appellate Courts and Parish Courts. Unlike most of Sierra, the Channel Islands' legal system, particularly in regards to private law and some aspects of criminal law are rooted in the traditions of French and Spanish law. It, alongside the Gold Coast have retained the legacy of this legal system from the historical administration by the French and Spanish colonial governments. Following the independence of the Channel Islands, the Civil Code of the Channel Islands was created. Nonetheless, public law, most aspects of criminal law, and other federal law operate according to Sierran common law. Although decisions and cases settled by the Territorial High Court are final in the Channel Islands, such cases can be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Sierra if a writ of certiorari is issued, primarily due to a conflict with or issue regarding federal or Kingdom law.

Politically, the Channel Islands is generally conservative, with the largest party, the Parti de l'unité, the Channelier affiliate of the conservative Royalist Party, accounting for nearly 70% of all registered Channelier voters. The next-largest party, the Parti d'action démocratique (Democratic Action Party), an affiliate to the Democratic-Republican Party, represents most of the Channelier left and progressives.

Foreign and intergovernmental affairs

As a territory, the Channel Islands is prohibited from managing its own external affairs with other nations, as this right is exclusively reserved to the Kingdom of Sierra as stipulated by the Charter of 1950 as well as the Constitution of 1858. It may, and has nonetheless, been able to establish several trade agreements and international dialogue with permission by Parliament, particularly with countries such as France. In addition, the Kingdom has permitted the Channel Islands to participate in a number of international organizations as an observer including La Francophonie.

The Office of the Resident Commissioner and the Channel Islands Department of State are the two entities responsible for representing the Channel Islands in the federal government of Sierra and the national government of the Kingdom and managing intergovernmental affairs. The Resident Commissioner is the Channels' key and primary representative to the government of Sierra (aside from the Governor) and is the sole delegate to the Parliament in the House of Commons. As with all territorial delegates, the Resident Commissioner cannot vote on any bills on the floor although they may draft and propose bills, and work in committees. Among the powers of the Department of State, in matters dealing intergovernmental affairs, it is specifically charged with promoting tourism, promoting bilateral relations, licensing companies and individuals for engaging in commerce or hunting in the Channels, and processing passport applications.

Political status

As of 2016, the Channel Islands have been categorized as incorporated organized territory of Sierra, the only class of its kind (all other territories are unincorporated and one is also unorganized). Its current status was initiated through the passage of Proposition 11 in 1998, a Gold Coaster referendum that supported partitioning the Channel Islands from mainland Gold Coast. The proposition passed with 78% of Gold Coasters in favor (86% in favor among Channeliers) and was approved in both houses of the Gold Coast Provincial Legislature. On June 17, 1998, Parliament passed the bill and Queen Angelina I assented, with the date of transition placed on February 9, 1999. Currently, most major parties and politicians have openly supported provincial status, which could upgrade the Channels from a territory to a proper PSA, thus securing entitlement of representation in Parliament.

On June 1, 2017, voters in the Channel Islands will decide in a referendum if the Channels should join the Kingdom as a province, or remain as a territory. Early polls suggested that as much as 80% of Channeliers supported provincehood. There was 72.4% turnout at the referendum, with 86% of voters pressing for provincehood. The results were sent to Parliament, and a formal decision to begin the process towards provincehood was made on June 22.

Sovereignty movement

A minority of Channeliers advocate Channelier nationalism and independence, most of them rejecting the political consolidations of constituent-country status given to Hawaii and the Deseret who have undergone similar circumstances. The Parti Détroitiens (PD), which has a membership of 53,304 registered voters, is the Channels' main party, and briefly gained popularity prior to the Gold Coast Proposition 11 in 1998. Today, no major Channelier politican has supported Channelier independence, with most either supporting the status quo or advocating provincial status and restorative integration into the Kingdom.

Military

C-130 Hercules over Santa Cruz Island

A Channel Island National Guard 52nd Airlift Squadron C-130J Hercules flying over Santa Cruz Island.

As a territory, the defense of the Channel Islands is provided and maintained by Sierra through the Sierran Crown Armed Forces with the Queen as the commander-in-chief (who invests her duties as commander to the Prime Minister). The Channel Islands manages its own organized and local defense, the Channelier branch of the National Guard and the Channel Islands State Guard militia. Both local forces are under the sole command of the Earl of Catalina, who delegates their authority to the Governor who then in turn, delegates it to the Channel Islands Adjutant General. Through an interstate agreement and 25-year lease, the Gold Coast National Guard and State Guard provides supplementary protection and special assistance to the islands, mainly by providing first aid and emergency relief during times of crisis.

There are two military installations in the Channel Islands, both of which are operated by the Royal Navy: the Karana Outlying Field on San Nicolas Island and the Frederick Sherman Auxiliary Landing Field on San Clemente. The main garrison and headquarters of both the Channel Islands National Guard and State Guard is Camp Wrigley on Catalina Island.

In 2014, the K.S. Ministry of Defense reported that the Channels had a total of 22,637 active duty servicemembers and an additional total of 34,519 reserved members and militiamen.

Demographics

In the 2010 Sierra Royal Bureau of Census, 2,228,775 people were reported living in the Channel Islands, a 53.45% increase from the 2000 population of 1,452,459. The islands' doubled population growth primarily stems from mainland migrants who are attracted to the islands' low taxes, minimal regulations, and affordable housing. The majority of the population live on Santa Catalina Island or San Clemente Island, with over 90% living within any of the islands' incorporated cities or towns.

Racial and ancestral makeup

Up until the early 20th century, the Channel Islands was predominantly inhabited by the descendants of the French pioneers who arrived with Bougainville and De Galaup. Most of these pioneers were middle-class Parisians or other inhabitants of Île-de-France commissioned by the King of France. A visible minority on the Channels with the French were the descendants of Spanish-born settlers. Other inhabitants at the time were the native Chumasn and Tongva peoples, and the class of mestizos who arose as a result of interracial marriages and interaction.

Languages

The official languages of the Channel Islands are English and French, making the Channels one of the two only provincial or territorial government in Sierra that uses French as one of its official languages (the other being Bénieîle). Due to the Channel's close proximity to the Anglophone mainland and the Channelier education system, virtually all Francophone Channeliers, can also speak English proficiently or higher. Knowledge and comprehension of French is also conversely known among non-French residents, although in recent years, migrants from the mainland have moved in and increased the population of non-French speakers. The retention of the French language, particularly that of the Channelier dialect, has been the subject of much attention and pride among native Channeliers. The Channel Islands is an associate member of Francophonie and the Institute of the French Language in the Channels is the official public organization that promotes, oversees, and regulates the use of standard French in the Channels.

According to the 2010 census, 1,693,869 people (76% of the population) in the Channel Islands declared French as their mother tongue, while 356,604 people (16% of the population) reported that it was English. The remaining 245,165 residents (11% of the population) constituted other languages more commonly spoken on the mainland, primarily Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean. 2,072,760 residents (93% of the population) reported they were bilingual (of any two languages) or multilingual. The number of residents who could speak and understand French and English (without taking into account of knowledge and use of any other languages) was 1,894,458 (85% of the population).

Religion

Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Avalon

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Avalon

The Channel Islands are unique among Sierra as the only territory or province with a majority Catholic population compared to the Protestant majority or plurality found in the rest of the Kingdom. The islands' large Catholic population is a legacy of the French and Spanish colonial past, with about 78% being Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Avalon, is the ecclesiastical and episcopal seat of the Church in the Channels as well as parts of southwestern Gold Coast and coastal Orange, and oversees 18 parishes within the Channels. The diocesan cathedral of the Archdiocese is the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and its current archbishop is Edmond Marin.

Other religious faiths present in the Channels are predominantly Christian, primarily those under the Protestant tradition including the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and Seventh-day Adventists (26 churches dispersed across the Channels). Non-Christian religions include Canaanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Islam, with at least one religious center or place of worship present on the islands from the aforementioned.

Economy

Little Gibraltar

The port city of Little Gibraltar is the Channels' premier financial center.

The Channels is an important, regional offshore financial center with low taxation, minimal regulations, and free trade lacking foreign exchange control. As incorporated territory, the Channels is subject to the federal income tax although the Channels itself has no territorial income tax, relying primarily on sales tax and other indirect taxes. Today, the islands' economy is dominated by financial services, tourism, gambling, and shipping, and has one of the standards of living in the Kingdom. Historically, the Channels was dependent on the agriculture and shipbuilding industries, which were overtaken by the modern industries by 1960. The Channelier government, through the Monetary Authority of the Channels, has a restrained approach towards intervening in the market.

Tourism

Tourism is an important part of Channelier economy and according to the Channel Islands Department of Tourism, over 9.5 million visitors came to the Channel Islands with 40% of them being foreigners. Due to the islands' year-round mild climate, travel is relatively consistent, generally peaking in the months of July and August. Major tourist cities are Little Gibraltar, renowned for its gambling and entertainment services; New Bourbon for its architecture, food, venues, and history; and Cassis for its beachfront activities and racing. In 2015, the Channels' tourism industry brought in over $155 million.

Financial services industry

The Channels is home to 8 banks, more than 50 trust funds, 9 trust companies, and an options exchange based in Little Gibraltar. In addition to the financial sector, 13 other multinational companies are based in the Channel Islands, and over 60% of Sierran-based companies are established or reincorporated as Channel General Law Corporations due to the territory's flexible business formation codes and regulations.

Culture

The Channel Islands has a distinct, French-driven culture compared to the rest of Sierra, having been relatively resistant to the societal and cultural changes of the Sierran Cultural Revolution during the first half of the 20th century. However, given its geographic isolation from other French-speaking North American communities such as the Quebecois and the Cajuns, as well as its close proximity to the mainland, its culture has evolved with Sierran influences and adopting other ideas from immigrant groups arriving to the cosmopolitan community of Sierra. It is intimately tied and linked with the Sierran Creole culture found on the Gold Coast mainland. Together, the Channels and the Creole community form the third largest Francophone community in North America.

Channelier identity and heritage is a source of pride among Channeliers, and the preservation of the French language and customs have been kept through government and social projects aimed at promoting Channelier culture. Unlike most of Sierra with Protestant heritage, the Channels have always traditionally been Roman Catholic with the Church remaining a powerful and relevant influence in Channelier society and social attitudes.

Cuisine

Channelier tartine

Channelier tartine, an open baguette sandwich topped with an avocado salad, is frequently consumed as a breakfast dish or snack.

Traditional Channelier cuisine is strongly French with Spanish, Creole, and Sierran influences, and incorporates local ingredients into its dishes. The Channels is renowned for its seafood dishes as well as wine. Historically, due to limited spacing and resources, locals utilized nearly every part of an animal including its bones and entrails. Chaudiere de Détroit (Channel Chowder), a savory chowder thickened with roux that incorporates vegetables, sausages, and fish, is one of the most popular dishes in Channelier cuisine. With French Channeliers primarily being descendants of those from Paris and Île-de-France, Channelier cuisine follows northern French culinary preferences and habits including the favoring of butter over olive oil. Nonetheless, Channelier cuisine is relatively cosmopolitan, having refined dishes that originated elsewhere in France as well as new sources from other countries to satisfy local taste.

Compared to the Sierran mainland, bread and wheat is preferred over rice as the staple food although rice is incorporated into several Channelier dishes as part of its nouvelle cuisine, the most recognizable being Restes de soirée (evening scraps), a fried rice with fried onions, shallots, carrots, peas, corn, and diced choucroute. Generally, Restes de soirée is prepared with a coating of Sauce Avocat (avocado sauce), herbs and breadcrumbs over it ("canopy styled" or style de canopée) or served with the sauce at the base ("earth style" or style de terre).

Aspects of Sierran dining etiquette and conventions have made their way into Channelier dining as the result of continous exchange and the islands' proximity.

Literature, theater, the arts, and music

Ingenue

La Belle Dame des Îles-du-Détroit (The Fair Lady of the Channel Islands), 1876 painting by Channelier artist Louise-Philippe Laverdière

As a relatively isolated community with a distinct, unique culture, the Channels has spawned a rich portfolio of seasoned writers, artists, and musicians throughout the years including Charles Julien, Judith Fonseca Lestrange, Jean-Paul Gagnon, Emilie Lepage, and Jean-Jacques Carnot.

Early Channelier literature initially dealt with themes of isolation in the New World and interactions with the indigenous population and the Spaniards. As Channelier literary circles developed, there was a pronounced shift in literature that aligned with that in mainland Sierran literature, particularly focus on sentimentality and romanticism as a collective, a homesickness and reverence for the French motherland superimposed against the anxiousness and mystical curiosity in the Channels colony. In the early 20th century, there was a shift towards realism, and an exploration of unconventionality and freethought that permeated Channelier literature.

The Channels has produced several prominent artists who were among the forefront of Sierran arts including Louise-Philippe Laverdière, Jean-Jacques Carnot, Cornelius Ferron, Augustine Leduc, and André Debussy. The fine arts of the Channels are displayed and featured at the Channels Premiere Museum of the Fine Arts in Little Gibraltar, the National Museum of Visual Arts in Porciúncula, and various other outlets. The prestigious New Bourbon Institute and Academy of the Arts, established in 1909, is regarded as one of the world's most competitive and established art schools.

Sports

Soccer (association football) was one of the first sports to gain widespread popularity in the Channels, with all four teams in the Islands affiliated franchises of the Royal Premier League, Sierra's national professional association football federation. The Little Gibraltar Swordfish, the most successful Channelier team, won the Sierran national championships in 2007, and has participated in the Pan-American Championships twice, in 2004 and 2009, each time placing in the semi-finals.

Other popular sports include baseball, American football, basketball, and volleyball. The Cassis Fleurs and the New Bourbon Dolphins are highly regarded and respected teams in the region. Amaury Durant and Désiré Pape have attained some of the highest honors in their respective sports (basketball and baseball) including induction into the All-Sierran Sports Hall of Fame as MVPs. Surfing, mountain biking, boxing, and wrestling are also major sports with a great degree of visibility in the islands.

As with the Kingdom, physical education is mandatory and integrated into all of the Channels' public schools, and is traditionally required from students between kindergarten to tenth grade, and sports are commonly included in the curriculum.

Symbols

Flag and coat of arms

Flag of the Channel Islands

Flag of the Channel Islands

The modern flag of the Channel Islands in use was developed by Channelier native Penelope Estrosi who submitted the design in the official flag design contest held by the Channelier government in 1999 after Proposition 11 was passed. There were over 2,000 submissions, and Estrosi's design was among the flags in top 30 pool, before eventually being selected by voters in a referendum featuring the top 5 flags of the contest.

Coat of arms of the Channel Islands

Coat of arms of the Channel Islands

The flag features a gyronny alternating in blue and yellow, featuring the Channels' coat of arms (a crowned, winged eel on a red seal) superimposed in the center of the field, with a thick red border on the edges.

The winged eel on the coat of arms (based on the moray eel) has been a traditional symbol of the Channels, having been featured in colonial arms and favored by Channeliers as a respected, recognizable creature in the local waters, and a prominent feature in Channelier seafood cuisine. The crown represents the Channels' loyalty to the Sierran crown and additionally serves as a reminder of the Channels' historic connection to the French royalty. Facing to the left-hand side of the field, the eel's orientation represents the journey made by the Channels' founders who went westward away from France, into the New World. This direction is also by which the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean's horizon, a common scene depicted in Channelier arts. The blue on the gyronny symbolizes the refreshing, nourishing waters of the sea, while the yellow symbolizes sunshine and the islands' prosperity. The red border of the flag represents the courage and passion of the Channelier people in maintaining their sense of identity and independence throughout its history.

Transportation

Sea

Catalina Express

A Catalina Express ship leaving Avalon.

Transportation by boat is by far the Channels' most important form for most of its islands, especially for access to the mainland and between the islands themselves. Travel between Catalina from Avalon to Grands Ballons or Newport Beach generally takes about 75–90 minutes by ferry. A number of private contractors and businesses are responsible for this form of transportation and they often provide tours and seafaring-related activities in addition to these transportation functions.

The only public boating provided for by the Channelier government is operated by Channels Transportation Authority through the Channels Waterways Express (CWE) which only offers inter-island movement. The CWE, which primarily exists to assist lower-income Channeliers who work outside their home island, currently owns 20 vessels, each with a passenger capacity of 250, and generally transport about 10,000 collectively on a daily basis.

All major shore cities feature a marina, the largest of which is the Port of Little Gibraltar, which is one of the region's largest and busiest seaports. The Port of Little Gibraltar, together with the Ports of Porciúncula and Grands Ballons, form the Southwest Corridor's primary shipping hubs. In the harbors of Avalon, Little Gibraltar, New Bourbon, Cassis, and Two Harbors, there are substantial spaces allotted solely to yachts and other large, private vessels. With the exception of Avalon, all vessels docked are served on a first-come, first-serve basis, requiring only a purchase of a renewable docking ticket from the Channels Transportation Authority.

Road

The only highway systems that exist on the Channel Islands are found on Catalina Island and San Clemente Island with two freeways and four principal highways on the former and one freeway and two highways on the latter. All expressways and public roads in the Channels with the exception of those in the Cabrillo Special District are administered and maintained by the Channels Transportation Authority, and patrolled by the Channels Interisland Police. Like mainland Sierra, Channeliers use right-hand traffic and also uses miles to calculate and gauge distance. Historically, the Channels used lieues, a unit brought over by pre-revolutionary France. The Channels later adopted the American-Sierran imperial units in the 1880s including the mileage system.

In the 1940s, there were proposals to link Catalina Island, the Channels' most populous island, to the Sierran mainland from either Avalon or Little Gibraltar with Grands Ballons or Point Dana through a bridge. The distance, depth of the surrounding waters, risk of seismic activity, and cost of construction and maintenance made such a project difficult to pass however. Eventually, following the model of the Channel Tunnel in Europe, the undersea San Pedro–Bonaparte Tunnel began construction in 1990, a massive project that costed over $22 billion, one of the most expensive projects ever undertaken in Sierran history. When it was completed in 1998, it became one of the world's longest undersea tunnels, the second deepest (at a maximum depth below sea of –722 ft), and one of the only tunnel-bridges in existence. The bridge begins at Grands Ballons and extends into the bay for about 5 miles before the sea floor's depth falls substantially, before it enters the tunnel proper. The tunnel-bridge features a divided highway with two lanes on either side, and a two-way rail system. In addition, there is a special, restricted lane on the highways for trucks and other logistical vehicles, as well as another lane for emergency vehicles, which are regarded as high-priority traffic.

Over the years, there have been several significant accidents in the tunnels, and traffic activity is continuously monitored 24/7. During peak hours, all traffic by car must pay a $15 one-way toll, with a discount for round-trips. The minimum toll for non-residents is $8, while Channelier residents may enter the tunnel from the Grands Ballons terminal, free of charge, except during peak hours and holidays. An annual pass is also available, waiving any toll payments. The speed limit posted on the three bridges is 70 mph.

The tunnel's rail system is serviced by the Catalina Flash, a high-speed rail that can carry passengers and goods, and the Channel Shuttle, which can carry cars over to the island, instead of using the roads. Ticket rates vary, depending on demand, and the rail is connected to the Southland high-speed rail line. Travel across the tunnel by train takes about 22 minutes.

Highways

  • Interprovincial 1A Interprovincial 1A (San Pedro–Bonaparte Tunnel)
  • Channel Islands Route D1 Territorial Expressway 1
  • Channel Islands Route D2 Territorial Expressway 2 (Trans-Channel Tunnel)
  • Channel Islands Route D3 Territorial Expressway 3
  • Channel Islands Route 10 Territorial Route 10

  • Channel Islands Route 20 Territorial Route 20
  • Channel Islands Route 30 Territorial Route 30
  • Channel Islands Route 40 Territorial Route 40
  • Channel Islands Route 50 Territorial Route 50 (Pio Pico Tunnel)
  • Channel Islands Route 60 Territorial Route 60

Air

The Louis Antoine de Bougainville Airport (LAB), the Channels' busiest, is located just south of Little Gibraltar is the primary airport hub for the islands, servicing approximately 2.3 million visitors annually with 7 different carriers. The Channels' flagship airline, Detroit Air, includes nonstop flights from select cities within the Americas. The West End Airport situated in the West End Parish of Santa Catalina serves as a relief airport for the Louis Antoine de Bougainville Airport. On Santa Cruz Island, the Philippe Roland Airport (PHR) is a shared military and civilian airports and is the Channels' second busiest airport with direct flights to Seattle, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Cabo San Lucas, and Honolulu.

Education

The Channel Islands has the only territorial-wide public school system within incorporated Sierra with policy decisions and curriculum determined by the twenty-member Territory Board of Educators who establishes policy and hires the Superintendent of Schools, who oversees the Department of Education. The Department of Education is further divided into five administrative districts with two on Santa Catalina, two on San Clemente, and one servicing the rest of the islands.

In addition to the Channelier public school system, there are a number of private schools, a significant amount of them being administered and managed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Avalon.

The Channels' public education system features one of the highest performing and test-scoring schools and students in the Kingdom, with compulsory testing pursuant to the guidelines provided by the 2007 National Advanced and Standardized Testing Act (NASTA). Of the 49 public schools in the Channels, all but one met federal standards, and Channelier high school seniors tend to score significantly higher than the national average in the Academic Baseline Assessment (ABA) placement tests in all categories.

Colleges and universities

The Channel Islands Board of Education oversees the islands' two universities, with the University of Channel Islands, New Bourbon (under the University of Sierra system) and the Channel Islands Institutional University in Avalon (under the Sierra National University system). The former opened in 1904 while the latter in 1939. In addition to the two universities, there are four community colleges administered under the Channels Community College District, in partnership with the Sierra Community Colleges system: Avalon City College, Two Harbors City College, New Bourbon City College, and Pyramide City College. All of these public institutions receive a significant portion of federal subsidy and funding (approximately 60%), while the Channels provides about 30% of the funding, and the remaining 10% is acquired from student tuition fees.

Aside from the public institutions, there are a number of private educational institutions in the Channels including the Little Gibraltar Bible College, Southwest Pacific University in Cassis, and St. Catherine University in Little Gibraltar.

Health

Unlike all other territories in Sierra which are unincorporated, as incorporated territory, the citizens of the Channel Islands enjoy the same benefits and subsidies of the federal Medicare and Medicaid as the citizens in the federal mainland.

In the Channels, businesses are not required to provide insurance to employees although the government provides tax credit to businesses which provide insurance and imposes several regulations on health insurance companies in order to offset costs to employers. Approximately 78% of Channeliers are insured.

On the Santa Catalina, there are five hospitals and twelve health clinics, two of the former of which are public hospitals (Avalon General Hospital and the Little Gibraltar Municipal Hospital). The largest hospital, the Sagebrush Medical Center in Cassis, is privately owned by Saint-Catherine Health, and is a 124,000 sq. ft complex with 2,514 beds and a staff of 2,233.

Media

There are few outlets of media specifically curtailed to the Channels, much in part due to the islands' close proximity to the Sierran mainland and the Southwest Corridor. The Pacific Herald (Le Héraut du Pacifique) and Les Mers are the two major print newspapers that distribute on a daily basis and service the Channels with a primary focus on Channelier news and affairs. Several television networks broadcast local versions on the islands and have affiliates based in Avalon and New Bourbon. A few local radio stations that service the Greater Porciúncula Area are based in Avalon and Little Gibraltar. All media in the Channels are available in both French and English, and most offer versions in additional languages.

See also

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