"Growing up here used to mean something," she said. "We used to be quite community-spirited. There was a great tourism industry, a lot of employment, farming as well. Finance has come in now. So much is geared toward that, the other industries that were so much a part of our lives are mostly gone."
Born on the island of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, 14 miles off the west coast of France, Pitman knew of no other home than one that answered directly to the queen of England.
Neither a part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union, Jersey is a Crown dependency, meaning it is accountable to the queen, but governs itself. The island has its own parliament, judiciary and treasury, which prints its own currency stamped with the queen’s visage and pegged to the British pound.
For purposes of free trade, Jersey is treated as part of the European Union and falls under many of the U.K.’s international treaties and compacts, but it has its own constitutional rights separate from the U.K., tracing back to the year 1204.
In practice, Jersey acts as a sovereign nation that freely grants its loyalty to the queen in exchange for certain special protections, such as the military defense of the island.
A so-called peculiar possession of the British Crown, Jersey is 45 square miles (about the size of Boston) with a population of around 100,000.
The islanders speak English, but due to their close proximity to Normandy, their surnames, buildings and street names are often French. Some islanders still speak the old native tongue of Jèrriais, a Norman dialect. Jersey’s roots stretch back more than a thousand years.
A family still living on the island, the de Carterets, once owned the lands that became the state of New Jersey.
The island is known for its history of pirates and Viking invasions, stunning castles, award-winning beaches and seafood, Jersey cows and Jersey cream.
And it is also known for warehousing nearly $2 trillion of the world’s wealth. (via Inside the World’s Top Offshore Tax Shelter - Newsweek)