The 40 families who originally settled in Sark were each an independent self-supporting economic unit – a farm upon which their lives depended. Sark’s link to the land and the sea has continued through to modern times where, although tourism might be the main industry, it is supported by farming and fishing.
With France only 20 miles away there is a strong Gallic influence on the Island where, although the first language is English, many speak French. Sark French was formerly spoken as the main language and began to decline during the 20th century. Nowadays there might only be ten speakers remaining, although only a few years ago in some households it was still the first language of the home.
Life was hard on an island where most people made a living from the soil or the sea and while less arduous jobs are now available there remains that need to work. Responsibility is placed onto individuals to take care of themselves and, with Sark’s strong sense of community, those around them. The absence of State provision for retirement pensions and other benefits has created a self-dependency that can sometimes be mistaken for arrogance. It colours the character of Sark’s people and enriches the Island.