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Alternate uses: see Gibraltar (disambiguation)
Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom located in southwestern Europe on the southern coast of Spain, a strategic location on the Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the European Union, though not part of the Customs union.

(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Nulli Expugnabilis Hosti
(Latin: Conquered By No Enemy)
Official language English
Capital (Gibraltar)
Coordinates 36° 07' N, 5° 21' W
Governor and
Sir Francis Richards
Chief MinisterPeter Caruana
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked n/a (192 if)
6.5 km²
 - Total (2003 E)
 - Density
Ranked n/a (190 if)
Currency Gibraltar pound (GIP=GBP)
Time zone UTC +1 (DST +2)
National anthem Gibraltar Anthem
Internet TLD .GI
Calling Code350

The territory covers 6.5 square kilometers. It shares a 1.2 kilometer land border with Spain and has 12 kilometers of shoreline. Its climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers. Its terrain is a narrow coastal lowland bordering the 426-meter-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 name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic Jabal al Tariq, which means "Tariq's mountain". Earlier it was Calpe, one of the Columns of Hercules. Today, Gibraltar is known colloquially as 'Gib' or 'the Rock'.

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." If Britain decides to sell Gibraltar, Spain is guaranteed first purchasing rights.

In a 1967 referendum, Gibraltarians ignored Spanish pressure and voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. This was emphasised in November 2002 when over 98% of the voters rejected proposals to share sovereignty between the UK and Spain.

As such, its military forces are the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force; defense is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

Table of contents
1 Spanish claim to sovereignty
2 Economy
3 External links

Spanish claim to sovereignty

As of 2003, Spain continues its policy of harassing Gibraltar both politically and economically in order to pressure the Gibraltarians into accepting Spanish sovereignty. Spain describes the people of Gibraltar as the 'present inhabitants' or 'transients', on the grounds that the original Spanish inhabitants were expelled at the time when the British seized Gibraltar. This is in spite of the fact that many can trace their families back hundreds of years.

Spain has a policy of non-recognition of the Government of Gibraltar as a 'competent authority', therefore refusing to recognize Gibraltar's courts, police and government departments, driving licenses and identity cards. It bans ferry and air services between Gibraltar and Spain, and motorists crossing the frontier are subjected to long delays and searches. Madrid refuses to recognize Gibraltar's international dialling code, 350 thereby restricting the expansion of Gibraltar's telephone numbering plan, as well as not allowing roaming for Gibraltar mobile phones in Spain.

It also tries to prevent Gibraltar from participating in international sporting and cultural events as it wants to create the impression that Gibraltar is a 'pure colony' with no separate identity from the UK.


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. Other, more affluent Gibraltarians live in Sotogrande on the Costa del Sol, from where they commute into Gibraltar. The Gibraltar waters are also used by ships transferring crude oil and bunker to oil carriers. The oil often comes from the Spanish CEPSA refinery at Algeciras but prices are lower in Gibraltar because of taxes. The Spanish falsely claimed Gibraltar was the destination of the Prestige which caused an environmental disaster.

A recent 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.

Gibraltar is also the only home of semi-wild monkeys in Europe. Taxonomically they are barbary macaques.

External links