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For other uses, see Gibraltar (disambiguation).

Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. It is located in southwestern Europe adjoining the southern coast of Spain, a strategic location on the Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

The name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic Jabal Tariq, جبل طارق which means "Tariq's mountain" (named for Tariq ibn Ziyad). Earlier the Phoenecians named it Calpe, one of the Columns of Hercules. Today, Gibraltar is known colloquially as 'Gib' or 'the Rock'.

(In Detail) (Full size)
Motto: Nulli Expugnabilis Hosti
(Latin: Conquered By No Enemy)
Official language English. (although Spanish is also spoken)
Capital (Gibraltar)
Coordinates 36° 07' N, 5° 21' W
Governor and
Sir Francis Richards
Chief Minister Peter Caruana
 - Total
 - % water
not ranked (192 if)
6.5 km²
 - Total (2003 E)
 - Density
not ranked (190 if)
Currency Pound Sterling. (Gibraltar Pound).
Time zone UTC +1 (DST +2)
Anthem Gibraltar Anthem
Internet TLD .GI
Calling Code 350 (except in Spain)

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Defence
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Miscellaneous
7 External links


Main article: History of Gibraltar

Evidence of human inhabitation of the Rock dates back to the Neanderthals. A Neaderthal skull was discovered in St. Michael's Cave in the nineteenth century, indeed prior to the discovery of the "original" discovery in the Neander Valley.

The Phoenicians are known to have visited the Rock circa 950 BC. The Carthaganians also visited, however neither group appears to have settled permanently. The Phoenician name "Calpe" may be derived from the verb "kalph" meaning to hollow out and may refer to St. Michael's Cave. Plato refers to Calpe as one of the Pillars of Hercules along with Jebel Musa on the other side of the Strait.

Gibraltar was next visited by the Romans who called it Mons Calpe. Again no permanent settlement was established. Following the fall of the Roman Empire Gibraltar was visited by the Vandals and later the Goths. The Vandals' stay was temporary, however the Goths were to remain on the Iberian peninsula from 414 to 711. It was in that year that the Rock first got its present name. Tariq ibn Ziyad, leader of the Berbers, landed at the southern point of the Rock from present-day Morocco in his quest for Spain. The mountain was named Jebel Tarik (Tarik's mountain). Over time the final syllable was dropped from the name and corrupted to Gibraltar.

Little was built during the first four centuries of Moorish control. However in 1160 Abdul Maman ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle be built. The main tower of this castle remains standing today. Despite the fortification, the rock was overrun by Spanish forces in 1462. The rock was temporarily owned by the King of Castile, but later taken by the Duke of Medina Sidonia and passed to his son. Queen Isabella of Spain had her army besiege and re-take Gibraltar for the Spanish kingdom in 1501.

An Anglo-Dutch force led by Sir George Rooke seized the Rock in 1704. The territory was ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht as part of the settlement of the War of the Spanish Succession. In that treaty, Spain ceded Great Britain "the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging ... for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever."

Nonetheless, the treaty stipulates that no overland trade between Gibraltar and Spain is to take place, except for emergency provisions in the case that Gibraltar is unable to be resupplied by sea. Another condition of the cession is that "no leave shall be given under any pretence whatsoever, either to Jews or Moors, to reside or have their dwellings in the said town of Gibraltar." This restriction was quickly ignored and for many years both Jews and Arabs have lived peacefully in Gibraltar. In a reversion clause, should the British Crown ever wish relinquish Gibraltar, Spain was promised it will be offered to it first.

In a 1967 referendum, Gibraltarians ignored Spanish pressure and voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. More recently, in a second referendum held in November 2002 99% of the voters rejected any proposal to share sovereignty between the UK and Spain. However, the Gibraltarians are seeking a more modern status and relationship with the United Kingdom reflecting the present level of self-government. A new constitution has been submitted for approval by Whitehall.


As an overseas territory of the UK, Gibraltar has had considerable internal self-government since the introduction of its present constitution in 1969. The Governor of Gibraltar, appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, is responsible for defence, foreign relations, internal security and financial stability. All other matters, defined as 'domestic', are the responsibility of the Council of Ministers, with the leader of the majority party in the elected House of Assembly appointed as Chief Minister.

The issue of sovereignty continues to dominate Gibraltarian politics. Both main political parties, the Gibraltar Social-Democrats (GSD) and the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) are opposed to any transfer of sovereignty to Spain. Spain continues to claim the terrority as rightfully its own and wishes to assume sole sovereignty. The British Government, whilst stating that no change would take place without the consent of the people of Gibraltar, continue to explore the possibility of joint sovereignty between the United Kingdom and Spain.

Another issue of contention has been the repair of the nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless. Despite many protests the Gibraltar Government allowed the work to be done after employing its own experts to confirm it was safe. The submarine was in Gibraltar for a year before leaving after the repair was successfully completed without incident.

The 2004 win of the Socialist Party in Spain and subsequent withdraw of the spanish troops from Iraq led UK to a mild hostile position regarding Gibraltar: the HMS Tireless returned to Gibraltar in a brief visit, and Princess Anne as well as the UK Minister of Defense were sent to the Rock to the commemmoration events of the tercenetenary of the cession. These actions were subject of complain by the spanish goverment, to no avail.

For further details, see the in-depth article Politics of Gibraltar.

(For details on Gibraltar's status in the EU, see Special member state territories and their relations with the EU).


Gibraltar has no military forces of its own. Its forces are the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force; defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. However, the army garrison is provided by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, originally a part-time reserve force which was placed on the permanent establishment of the British Army in 1990 upon the withdrawal of the British garrison. The regiment includes full-time and part-time soldiers recruited from Gibraltar, as well as British Army regulars posted from other regiments.


Main article: Geography of Gibraltar

The territory covers 6.5 square kilometres. It shares a 1.2 kilometre land border with Spain and has 12 kilometres of shoreline. Its climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers. Its terrain is a narrow coastal lowland bordering the 426-metre-high Rock of Gibraltar. It has negligible natural resources and limited natural freshwater resources, until recently using large concrete or natural rock water catchments to collect rain water, although it now has a desalination plant. The growing demand for space is being increasingly met by land reclamation, particularly on the west side of the Rock, but lately also on the east.

Territorial waters

The original Utrecht treaty did not give control of surrounding territorial waters to Gibraltar.

However, the , set a standard of 12 nautical miles for all of its signatories.

Gibraltar's territorial waters currently extend up to 3 nautical miles, but could be extended to 12 if required.

Still, the positions of Spain and the UK are opposite on this issue:

The Spanish Statement
"2. In ratifying the Convention, Spain wishes to make it known that this act cannot be construed as recognition of any rights or status regarding the maritime space of Gibraltar that are not included in article 10 of the Treaty of Utrecht of 13 July 1713 concluded between the Crowns of Spain and Great Britain. Furthermore, Spain does not consider that Resolution III of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea is applicable to the colony of Gibraltar, which is subject to a process of decolonization in which only relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly are applicable."

The British Statement
"With regard to point 2 of the declaration made upon ratification of the Convention by the Government of Spain, the Government of the United Kingdom has no doubt about the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over Gibraltar, including its territorial waters. The Government of the United Kingdom, as the administering authority of Gibraltar, has extended the United Kingdom's accession to the Convention and ratification of the Agreement to Gibraltar. The Government of the United Kingdom, therefore, rejects as unfounded point 2 of the Spanish declaration. "


Main article: Economy of Gibraltar

Since the reduction of the British garrison, the economy has been turned to offshore banking and tourism. There are more companies registered in Gibraltar than inhabitants. The Spanish government as part of its campaign to reclaim the Rock claims that Gibraltar banks are used in tax evasion and money laundering (An inquiry by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee found this claim to be baseless).

The Spanish government has also accused Gibraltarian motorboats of helping in tobacco smuggling. However, to prevent this happening there is a law against fast launches and it is illegal to bring them into Gibraltar waters.

Gibraltarians enjoy a standard of life higher than their Spanish neighbours of Campo de Gibraltar and much higher than their Moroccan neighbours.

Since the reopening of the frontier in 1985, many Gibraltarians have bought properties across the border, particularly the neighbouring town of La Línea de la Concepción, where property prices are much lower, although land reclamation in 1991 has lessened the traditionally chronic housing shortage on the Rock. Space remains a problem and other, more affluent Gibraltarians live in Sotogrande on the Costa del Sol, from where they commute into Gibraltar.

The Euro is not legal tender, but most shops will take euro notes (The United States Dollar is also widely accepted).

The Gibraltar Pound is just another name for the Pound Sterling. Gibraltar pound notes are issued and legal tender, therefore one Gibraltar pound = 1 pound sterling.

Gibraltar is also home to the only semi-wild monkeys in Europe, the Barbary Apes. Taxonomically they are barbary macaques.


External links

Overseas territories of the United Kingdom
Anguilla | Bermuda | British Antarctic Territory | British Indian Ocean Territory | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Falkland Islands | Gibraltar | Montserrat | Pitcairn Islands | Saint Helena | South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
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Dependencies: Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Isle of Man | Jersey | Svalbard