Sark is a small island in the southwestern English Channel. It is one of the Channel Islands, is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and as such is a British crown dependency. It has a population of about 600. Sark's main industries are tourism, crafts and finance. Sark has an area of two square miles (5.45 km²). Sark was the last European territory to abolish what some called classic feudalism.
Sark consists of two main parts, Greater Sark and Little Sark to the south. They are connected by a narrow isthmus called La Coupée which is just nine feet wide with a drop of 300 feet on either side. Protective railings were erected in 1900; before then, children would crawl across on their hands and knees to avoid being blown over the edge. There is a narrow concrete road covering the entirety of the isthmus, built in 1945 by German prisoners of war under the direction of the Royal Engineers.
The highest point on Sark is 374 feet above sea-level. A windmill, dated 1571 is found here, the sails of which were removed during World War I. This location is also the highest point in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Little Sark had a number of mines as well as a source of galena. At Port Gorey, the ruins of silver mines can still be seen. Just off the south end of Little Sark is the "Venus Pool", a natural swimming pool, and the "Adonis Pool".
In the thirteenth century, Sark was used as a base of operations by the French pirate Eustace the Monk after he served King John of England. Although populated by monastic communities in the medieval period, Sark was uninhabited in the 16th century and used as a refuge and raiding base by Channel pirates. Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen in Jersey, received a charter from Queen Elizabeth I to colonise Sark with 40 families from St. Ouen on condition that he maintain the island free of pirates.
An attempt by the newly settled families to endow themselves with a constitution under a bailiff, as in Jersey, was put down by the authorities of Guernsey who resented any attempt to wrest Sark from their bailiwick.
During World War II, the island was occupied by the Nazis from 1940–1944, as were the other Channel Islands, and was the site of Operation Basalt.
In 1990 an unemployed French nuclear physicist named André Gardes attempted a singlehanded invasion of Sark, armed with a semi-automatic weapon. The night Gardes arrived he put up some signs declaring his intention to take over the island the following day at noon. He was arrested by the Island's part time police officer while sitting on a bench, changing the gun's magazine, whilst he waited for noon to arrive.
On 4 July 2007 Sark began to dismantle its feudal system to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The majority of the island's legislature could be elected by 2009. On January 16, 2008 and February 21, 2008, the Chief Pleas approved a law which introduces a 30-member chamber, with 28 elected members and retaining only two unelected members. On 9 April 2008, the Privy Council approved the Sark law reforms, and the first elections under the new law will be held in December 2008 and the new chamber will first convene in January 2009.