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Gibraltar ( ) is a self-governing British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsulamarker and Europe at the entrance of the Mediterraneanmarker overlooking the Strait of Gibraltarmarker. The territory covers and shares a land border with Spainmarker to the north. Gibraltar has historically been an important base for the British Armed Forces and is the site of a Royal Navy base.

A one-year investigation and analysis of 235 countries and territories by Jane’s Country Risk listed Gibraltar as 5th most prosperous and stable worldwide, and the highest ranked British territory.

The sovereignty of Gibraltar has been a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations. Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, though Spain asserts a claim to the territory and seeks its return. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians strongly oppose this, along with any proposal of shared sovereignty. The British government has stated that it is committed to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes.


The name Gibraltar is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq (جبل طارق), meaning "mountain of Tariq". It refers to the geological formation, the Rock of Gibraltarmarker, which in turn was named after the Berber Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Moorish force in 711 under the command of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. Earlier, it was known as Mons Calpe, one of the Pillars of Herculesmarker. Today, Gibraltar is known colloquially as Gib or The Rock.


There is evidence of human habitation in Gibraltar going as far back as Neanderthal man, an extinct species of the genus Homo. Within recorded history, the first inhabitants were the Phoeniciansmarker, around 950 BC. Subsequently, Gibraltar became known as one of the Pillars of Herculesmarker, after the Greek legend of the creation of the Strait of Gibraltarmarker. The Carthaginiansmarker and Romans also established semi-permanent settlements.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Gibraltar came briefly under the control of the Vandals. The area later formed part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania until the Kingdom's collapse from the Muslim conquest in 711 AD.

The Moorish period

On 30 April 711, the Umayyad general Tariq ibn Ziyad led a Berber-dominated army across the Strait from Ceutamarker. He first attempted to land at Algecirasmarker but failed. Subsequently, he landed undetected at the southern point of the Rock from present-day Moroccomarker. However, the first four centuries of Moorish control brought little development.

The Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min built the first permanent settlement in the 1150s. He ordered the construction of a fortification on the Rock, the remains of which are still present in the form of the Moorish Castlemarker. Gibraltar would later become part of the Kingdom of Granada until 1309, when Castillian troops briefly occupied it. In 1333, the Marinids, who had invaded Muslim Spain, conquered it, but ceded Gibraltar to the Kingdom of Granada in 1374. Finally, the Duke of Medina Sidonia reconquered it in 1462, finally ending 750 years of Moorish control.

The Spanish period

Medina Sidoniamarker initially granted Gibraltar sovereignty as a home to a population of exiled Sephardic Jews. Pedro de Herrera, a Jewish converso from Córdobamarker who had led the conquest of Gibraltar, led a group of 4,350 Jews from Córdoba and Sevillemarker to establish themselves in the town. A community was built and a garrison established to defend the peninsula. However, this lasted only three years. In 1476, the Duke of Medina Sidonia realigned with the Spanish Crown; the Sefardim were then forced back to Córdoba and the Spanish Inquisition. In 1501 Gibraltar passed under the hands of the Spanish Crown, which had been established in 1479. In 1501, in Toledomarker, Isabella of Castile issued a Royal Warrant granting Gibraltar the coat of arms that it still uses today.

The naval Battle of Gibraltarmarker took place on 25 April 1607 during the Eighty Years' War when a Dutch fleet surprised and engaged a Spanish fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar. During the four-hour action, the entire Spanish fleet was destroyed.

The British period

During the War of the Spanish Succession, English and Dutch troops, allies of Archduke Charles, the Austrian pretender to the Spanish Crown, formed a joint fleet and attacked various towns on the southern coast of Spain. On 4 August 1704, after six hours of bombardment starting at 5:00 am, the fleet, under the command of Admiral Sir George Rooke, assisted by Field Marshal Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, comprising some 1800 Dutch marines and the English Royal Marines, captured the town of Gibraltar and claimed it in the name of the Archduke Charles. After the surrender the majority of the Spanish population left Gibraltar.

Franco-Spanish troops failed to retake the town. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the war, awarded Britain sovereignty over Gibraltar. In this treaty, Spain ceded Gibraltar (Article X) and Minorcamarker (Article XI) to the United Kingdom in perpetuity. Great Britain has retained sovereignty over Gibraltar (though not Minorca) ever since, despite attempts by Spain to recapture it.

Due to military incursions by Spain various fortifications were established and occupied by British troops in the area which came to be known as "the British Neutral Ground". This was the area to the north of the city wall, militarily conquered and continuously occupied by the British except during time of war. (The sovereignty of this area, which today contains the airportmarker, cemetery, a number of housing estates and the sports centremarker, is separately disputed by Spain.marker)

During the American Revolution, the Spanish, who had entered the conflict against the British, imposed a stringent blockade against Gibraltar as part of an unsuccessful siege (the Great Siege of Gibraltarmarker) that lasted for more than three years, from 1779 to 1783. On 14 September 1782, the British destroyed the floating batteries of the French and Spanish besiegers. The signing of peace preliminaries in February 1783 ended the siege.

Gibraltar subsequently became a key base for the Royal Navy, first playing an important part prior to the Battle of Trafalgarmarker. Its strategic value increased with the opening of the Suez Canalmarker as it controlled the sea route between the UK and its colonies and Dominions east of Suez, such as India and Australia.

Spanish Civil War

After Britain recognised the Franco regime in 1938, Gibraltar had two Spanish Consulates, a Republican one and a Nationalistic one. During the Spanish Civil War there were several incidents that touched Gibraltar. In May 1937, HMS Arethusa had to tow HMS Hunter into port after Hunter hit a mine off Almeriamarker that killed and wounded several British sailors. In June 1937, the German pocket battleship Deutschland arrived in Gibraltar with dead and wounded after Republican planes bombed it in Ibizamarker in retaliation for the Condor Legion's bombing of Guernica. In August 1938, the Republican destroyer Jose Luis Diez took refuge in Gibraltar after taking casualties from the guns of the National cruiser Canarias. The one incident that resulted in the death of Gibraltarians occurred in January 1938 when a submarine of unknown origin, though probably Italian, sank the SS Endymion, a small freighter taking a cargo of coal to Cartagenamarker, which was in Republican hands.

World War II

During World War II, the British evacuated Gibraltar's women and children and turned the Rock into a fortress. They also converted the civilian golf course into an airfieldmarker. Spain's reluctance to allow the German Army onto Spanish soil frustrated a German plan to capture the Rock, codenamed Operation Felix, later named Llona. Germany's Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, secretly opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and filed a pointedly negative assessment of the options. Hitler sent Canaris to negotiate with Franco, but, according to some sources, Canaris privately told Franco it would be foolish for him to join or cooperate with the Axis. Franco subsequently made exorbitant demands for his cooperation, and erected concrete barriers on roads leading to the Pyrenees.

General Władysław Sikorski, who led Poland’s government in exile during World War II, died on 4 July 1943, when the British bomber he was in crashed into the sea after taking off from Gibraltar.

Recent history

In the 1950s, Spain, under the dictatorship of Franco, renewed its claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar, sparked in part by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Rock's capture. For the next thirty years, Spain restricted movement between Gibraltar and Spain, in application of one of the articles of the Treaty. Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum was held on 10 September 1967, in which Gibraltar's voters were asked whether they wished either to pass under Spanish sovereignty (when Spain was under the dictatorship of Franco), or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of continuance of British sovereignty, with 12,138 to 44 voting to reject Spanish sovereignty. This led to the passing of the Gibraltar Constitution Order, granting autonomy in May 1969, which the Government of Spain strongly opposed. In response, in June Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar and severed all communication links.

View of the frontier from the Spanish side.
In 1981 it was announced that the honeymoon for the royal wedding between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer would start from Gibraltar. The Spanish Government responded that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had declined their invitation to the ceremony as an act of protest.

The border with Spain was partially reopened in 1982, and fully reopened in 1985 prior to Spain's accession into the European Community. Joint talks on the future of The Rock held between Spain and the United Kingdom have occurred since the late 1980s under the Brussels Agreement.

In July 2002 proposals for joint sovereignty with Spain were revealed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. A second sovereignty referendum was organised in Gibraltar in November 2002, which rejected any idea of joint sovereignty by 17,900 (98.97%) votes to 187 (1.03%). The British Government restated that, in accordance with the preamble of the Constitution of Gibraltar:

"La Cuestión de Gibraltar" ( ), as it is termed by Spain, continues to affect Spain–United Kingdom relations.

September 2006 saw representatives of the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain conclude talks in Córdobamarker, Spain, with a landmark agreement on a range of issues affecting the Rock and the Campo de Gibraltar removing some of the restrictions imposed by Spain. This agreement resolved a number of longstanding problems; improved flow of traffic at the frontier, use of the airport, recognition of the +350 telephone code and the settlement of the long-running dispute regarding the pensions of former Spanish workers in Gibraltar who lost their jobs when Spain closed its border in 1969.

The Trilateral process is ongoing, and the British Government now states as policy that it will not enter into talks about sovereignty with Spain without the consent of the Government and people of the territory.

In December 2008, Gibraltar won its EU case on regional selectivity providing for a new tax system. A public holiday in January 2009 was announced to celebrate this milestone.

In May 2009 there were a number of Spanish incursions into British Waters around Gibraltar leading to intervention by the Police and a diplomatic protest by the UK.

In July 2009 Miguel Angel Moratinos, became the first serving Spanish foreign minister to visit Gibraltar for a meeting of the trilateral forum.


As Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the UK, the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar. The UK retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations. The Governor is not involved in the day-to-day administration of Gibraltar, and his role is largely as a ceremonial representative of the head of state. The Governor officially appoints the Chief Minister and government ministers after an election.

Parliament of Gibraltar
The Government of Gibraltar is elected for a term of four years. The head of Government is the Chief Minister, currently Peter Caruana QC. The Government consists of ten elected members.

The unicameral Parliamentmarker presently consists of seventeen elected members. The speaker is appointed by a resolution of the Parliament. There are three political parties currently represented in the Parliament: the governing Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), and two opposition parties - the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) and the Gibraltar Liberal Party which are in an electoral alliance and form a single parliamentary grouping.

The 2007 election was contested by the GSD, GSLP-Liberal Alliance, the PDP and two independents. Two parties which fielded candidates in the 2003 election did not present candidates in the 2006 election; the Reform Party was wound up and Gibraltar Labour Party absorbed into the GSD in a merger in 2005. A new party, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) was formed in 2006 and fielded candidates in the 2007 election, but none were elected.

Gibraltar is a part of the European Union, having joined under the British Treaty of Accession (1973), with exemption from some areas such as the Customs Union and Common Agricultural Policy. After a ten-year campaign to exercise the right to vote in European Elections, from 2004, the people of Gibraltar participated in elections for the European Parliamentmarker as part of the South West England constituency.

In March 2006, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that a new Gibraltar constitution had been agreed upon and would be published prior to a referendum on its acceptance in Gibraltar that year. In July, in a statement to the UK Parliament, Geoff Hoon, the Minister for Europe, confirmed that the new Constitution affirms the right of self-determination of the Gibraltarian people. On 30 November 2006, a referendum was held to approve a new constitution. The turnout was 60.4% of eligible voters, of whom 60.24% voted to approve the constitution; 37.75% voted against. The remainder returned blank votes. The Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, welcomed the result as a step forward for Gibraltar's political development.

All local political parties oppose any transfer of sovereignty to Spain. Instead, they support self-determination for the Rock. The main UK opposition parties also support this policy and it is currently UK Government policy not to engage in talks about the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of the people of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar remains on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (as it was nominated by the UK in 1947) considered annually by the United Nations Committee on Decolonization, though politicians both from the British Foreign Officemarker and Gibraltar wish to see it removed citing that Gibraltar has effectively been decolonised.


The Rock of Gibraltar, West Side town area, 2006

The territory covers . It shares a land border with Spainmarker. On the Spanishmarker side is the town La Línea de la Concepciónmarker, a municipality of Cádiz provincemarker. The part of Cádiz province next to Gibraltar is called Campo de Gibraltar, literally Gibraltar Countryside. The shoreline measures in length. There are two coasts (sides) of Gibraltar the East Sidemarker, which contains the settlements of Sandy Baymarker and Catalan Baymarker, and the Westsidemarker, where the vast majority of the population lives.

Having negligible natural resources and few natural freshwater resources, limited to natural wells in the north, until recently Gibraltar used large concrete or natural rock water catchments to collect water. Fresh water from the boreholes is supplemented by two desalination plants: a reverse osmosis plant, constructed in a tunnel within the rock, and a multi-stage flash distillation plant at North Mole.

Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world, with approximately . The growing demand for space is being increasingly met by land reclamation; reclaimed land currently comprises approximately one tenth of the territory's total area.

The Rock itself is made of limestone and is high. It contains many tunnelled roads, most of which are operated by the military and closed to the public.

Flora and fauna

Over 500 different species of flowering plants grow on The Rock. One of them, the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberis gibraltarica), is endemic to Gibraltar, being the only place in Europe where it is found growing in the wild. It is the symbol of the Upper Rock nature reserve. Among the wild trees that grow all around The Rock, olive and pine trees are some of the most common.

Most of its upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 230 Barbary Macaquesmarker, commonly known as apes, the only wild monkeys found in Europe. They sometimes visit the town area. Recent genetic studies and historical documents point to their presence on the Rock before its capture by the British. A superstition analogous to that of the ravens at the Tower of Londonmarker states that if the monkeys ever leave, so will the British. In 1944 British leader Winston Churchill was so concerned about the dwindling monkey population that he sent a message to the Colonial Secretary requesting that something be done about the situation. Other mammals found in Gibraltar include rabbits, foxes and bats. Dolphins and whales are frequently seen in the Bay of Gibraltarmarker. Migrating birds are very common and Gibraltar is home to the only specimens of Barbary Partridges found on the European continent.


The climate is Mediterranean / Subtropical with mild winters and warm summers. There are two main prevailing winds, an easterly one known as the Levante coming from the Sahara in Africa which brings humid weather and warmer sea and the other as Poniente which is westerly and brings fresher air in and colder sea. Its terrain consists of the 430 metre (1,400 ft) high Rock of Gibraltarmarker and the narrow coastal lowland surrounding it. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summers are generally dry.

Its average annual temperature is : during the day and at night. In the coldest month - January, the typically temperature ranges from during the day, at night, the average sea temperature is . In the warmest month - August, the typically temperature ranges from during the day, above at night, the average sea temperature is . Average number of days above is 181, average number of days above is 5-6 (2 in July, 3 in August). Average morning relative humidity: 82%, evening relative humidity: 64%. Sunshine hours is till 2,778 per year, from 150 in November (5 hours of sunshine every day) to 341 in July (11 hours of sunshine every day).


Map of Gibraltar
Gibraltar has no administrative divisions. It is, however, divided into seven Major Residential Areas, which are further divided into Enumeration Areas, used for statistical purposes.

The Major Residential Areas are listed below, with population figures from the Census of 2001:

Residential area Population % of total 1. East Side 429 1.56% 2. North District 4,116 14.97% 3. Reclamation Areas 9,599 34.91% 4. Sandpits Area 2,207 8.03% 5. South District 4,257 15.48% 6. Town Area 3,588 13.05% 7. Upper Town 2,805 10.20% Remainder 494 1.79% Gibraltar 27,495 100%

Eastside Development

Preliminary work was begun in 2004 on a 10-year project to construct a new hotel and marina project on the Eastside of the Rock, overlooking Spain's Costa del Sol. Designed by world-famous British architect Norman Foster, the 2 billion euro mega-project will feature three, 200-metre long finger quays and a sweeping half-mile long curved breakwater to surround them, totaling over 300,000 square metres of infill. The project, known as Sovereign Bay, will include several hotels and casinos and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The deep-draft breakwater will be capable of berthing large ocean liners within the "bay", while the marina will accommodate 500 private boats. Spanish news outlets expressed outrage over the Sovereign Bay project in January 2009, particularly over the fact that infill material to create the quays and breakwater was reportedly coming from Spanish quarries in Andalucia.


The British military traditionally dominated the economy of Gibraltar, with the naval dockyard providing the bulk of economic activity. This has however diminished in the last twenty years, and it is estimated to account for only 7% of the local economy, compared to over 60% in 1984. Today, Gibraltar has an extensive service-based economy, dominated by financial services and tourism.

Recently, many bookmakers and online gaming operators have relocated to Gibraltar to benefit from operating in a regulated jurisdiction with a favourable corporate tax regime. However, this corporate tax regime for non-resident controlled companies is due to be phased out by 2010.

Tourism is also a significant industry. Gibraltar is a popular stop for cruise ships and attracts day visitors from resorts in Spain. The Rock is a popular tourist attraction, particularly among British tourists and residents in the southern coast of Spain. It is also a popular shopping destination, and all goods and services are VAT free. Many of the large British high street chains have branches or franchises in Gibraltar including Marks & Spencer, Bhs, Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Adams, Mothercare, Early Learning Centre, Monsoon, Next, Peacocks and the supermarket Morrisons. Branches and franchises of international retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Sunglass Hut are also present in Gibraltar, as is the Spanish clothing company Mango.

Figures from the CIA World Factbook show the main export markets in 2006 were United Kingdommarker 30.8%, Spainmarker 22.7%, Germanymarker 13.7%, Turkmenistanmarker 10.4%, Switzerlandmarker 8.3%, Italymarker 6.7% while the corresponding figures for imports are Spainmarker 23.4%, Russiamarker 12.3%, Italymarker 12%, UK 9%, Francemarker 8.9%, Netherlandsmarker 6.8% and United Statesmarker 4.7%.

The Gibraltar Government state that economy grew in 2004/2005 by 7% to a GDP of £599,180,000. Based on statistics in the 2006 surveys, the Government statisticians estimate it has grown by 8.5% in 2005/6 and by 10.8% in 2006/7 and that the GDP is probably now around 730 million. Inflation was running at 2.6% in 2006 and predicted to be 2% to 3% in 2007. Speaking at the 2007 budget session, Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister said "The scale of Gibraltar's economic success makes it one of the most affluent communities in the entire world."


A number of British and international banks have operations based in Gibraltar. Jyske Bank claims to be the oldest bank in the country, based on Jyske's acquisition in 1987 of Banco Gallianomarker, which began operations in Gibraltar in 1855. An ancestor of Barclays Bank, the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, entered in 1888, and Credit Foncier, now Credit Agricole Indosuez, entered in 1920.

In 1967, Gibraltar enacted the Companies (Taxation and Concessions) Ordinance, which provided for special tax treatment for international business. This was one of the factors leading to the growth of professional services such as private banking and captive insurance management. Gibraltar has several positive attributes as a financial centre, including a common law legal system and access to the EU single market in financial services. The Financial Services Commission, which was established by an ordinance in 1989 that took effect in 1991, regulates the finance sector. In 1997, the Department of Trade and Industry established its Gibraltar Finance Centre (GFC) Division to facilitate the development the financial sector's development.

Currently the FSC has licensed about 17 banks to provide full banking services in Gibraltar. Some banks are licensed by the EEA (European Economic Community) rather than the FSC and are subject to their home countries’ regulatory authorities. Lastly, five banks have only representative offices in Gibraltar.


Under the terms of the 1934 Currency Notes Act, the Government of Gibraltar issues banknotes that are legal tender alongside Bank of England banknotes in Gibraltar. A currency board issues these notes against reserves of sterling. Clearing and settlement of funds is conducted in sterling, and Gibraltar banknotes in circulation bear the words "Pounds sterling". Most retail outlets in Gibraltar unofficially accept the euro, though some payphones and the Post Office do not.


The population of Gibraltar was 29,286 in 2008 (estimate).

The people of Gibraltar are highly placed against the highest human life expectancy in the world, at an average of 80.9 years at birth.

Gibraltarians are a racial and cultural fusion of the many European immigrants who came to the Rock over three hundred years. They are the descendants of economic migrants that came to Gibraltar after the majority of the Spanish population left in 1704. The few Spaniards who remained in Gibraltar in August 1704 were augmented by others who arrived in the fleet with Prince George of Hesse, possibly some two hundred in all, mostly Catalans. By 1753 Genoesemarker, Maltesemarker, and Portuguesemarker people formed the majority of this new population. Other groups include Minorcans (due to the links between both British possessions during the 18th century; immigration begun in that century and continued even after Minorca was returned to Spain in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens) Sardinians, Sicilians and other Italians, French, Germans, and the British. Immigration from Spain and intermarriage with Spaniards from the surrounding Spanish towns was a constant feature of Gibraltar's history until General Francisco Franco closed the border with Gibraltar, cutting off many Gibraltarians from their relatives on the Spanish side of the frontier.


Gibraltar's main religion is Christianity, with the majority ( 78% ) of Gibraltarians belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christian denominations include the Church of England ( 7% ), whose Cathedral of the Holy Trinitymarker is the cathedral of the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe; the Gibraltar Methodist Churchmarker, Church of Scotlandmarker, various Pentecostal and independent churches mostly influenced by the House Church and Charismatic movements, as well as two Plymouth Brethren congregations. There is also a ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are also a number of Hindu Indians, a Moroccanmarker Muslim population, members of the Bahá'í Faith and a long-established Jewish community.


As a British overseas territory, the sole official language of Gibraltar is English, and it is used by the Government and in schools. Most locals are bilingual, also speaking Spanish, due to Gibraltar's proximity to Spain. However, because of the varied mix of ethnic groups which reside there, other languages are spoken on The Rockmarker. Arabic is spoken by the Moroccanmarker community, as are Hindi and Sindhi by the Indianmarker community of Gibraltar. Hebrew is also spoken by the Jewish community and the Maltese language is still spoken by some families of Maltesemarker descent.

Gibraltarians often converse in Llanito ( ). It is an Andalusian Spanish based vernacular and unique to Gibraltar. It consists of an eclectic mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English as well as languages such as Maltese, Portuguese, Italian of the Genoese variety and Haketia .Andalusian Spanish is the main constituent of Llanito, but is also heavily influenced by British English. However, it borrows words and expressions of many other languages, with over 500 words of Genoese and Hebrew origin. It also often involves code-switching to English.

Gibraltarians also call themselves Llanitos.


Education in Gibraltar generally follows the English system operating within a three tier system. Schools in Gibraltar follow the Key Stage system which teaches the National Curriculum.


Gibraltar has fifteen state schools, one MOD school, one private school and one College of Further Education.

Higher education

As there are no facilities in Gibraltar for full-time higher education, all Gibraltarian students must study elsewhere at degree level or equivalent and certain non-degree courses. The Government of Gibraltar operates a scholarship/grant system to provide funding for students studying in the United Kingdommarker. All Gibraltarian students follow the student loans procedure of the UK, where they apply for a loan from the Student Loans Company which is then reimbursed in full by the Government of Gibraltar. In 2008, there were 224 Gibraltarian students enrolled in UK universities.

Health care

All Gibraltarians are entitled to free health care in public ward and clinics at the hospital and primary health care centre. All other British citizens are also entitled to free of charge treatment on the Rock on presentation of a valid British passport during stays of up to 30 days. Other EU nationals are equally entitled to treatment on presentation of a valid European Health Insurance Card. Dental treatment and prescribed medicine are also free of charge for Gibraltarian students and pensioners.


Tercentenary celebrations in Gibraltar.
The culture of Gibraltar reflects Gibraltarians' diverse origins. While there are Andalusianmarker and British influences, the ethnic origins of most Gibraltarians are not confined to British or Andalusian ethnicities. Other ethnicities include Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese, and German. A handful of other Gibraltar residents are Jewish of Sephardic origin, North African, or Indiansmarker.

British influence remains strong. English is the language of government, commerce, education, and the media. Gibraltarians going on to higher education attend university in the UK. Patients requiring medical treatment not available on the Rock receive it as private patients paid for by the Gibraltar Government either in the United Kingdom, or more recently in Spain.

There exists a small but interesting amount of literary writings by native Gibraltarians. The first prominent work of fiction was probably Héctor Licudi's 1929 novel Barbarita, written in Spanish. It is a largely autobiographical account of the adventures and misadventures of a young Gibraltarian man. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, several noteworthy anthologies of poetry were published by Leopoldo Sanguinetti, Albert Joseph Patron, and Alberto Pizzarello. The 1960s were largely dominated by the theatrical works of Elio Cruz and his two highly acclaimed Spanish plays La Lola se va pá Londre and Connie con cama camera en el comedor. In the 1990s, the Gibraltarian man-of-letters Mario Arroyo published Profiles (1994), a series of bilingual meditations on love, loneliness and death. Of late there have been interesting works by the essayist Mary Chiappe such as her volume of essays Cabbages and Kings (2006) and by the UK-educated academic M. G. Sanchez, author of the hard-hitting novel Rock Black 0-10: A Gibraltar fiction (2006).


Gibraltarian cuisine is the result of a long relationship between the Andalucian Spaniards and the Britishmarker, as well as the many foreigners who made Gibraltar their home over the past three centuries. The culinary influences include those from Malta, Genoa, Portugal and Andalusia. This marriage of tastes has given Gibraltar an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and British cuisine. Calentita, a baked bread-like dish made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, is considered Gibraltar's national dish.


The music of Gibraltar is undergoing a renaissance with a multitude of local bands playing original material and covers. Local venues have begun accepting Gibraltarian bands and those from nearby Spainmarker, resulting in a varied mix of live performances every weekend as well as some weekday nights.

Musicians from Gibraltar include Charles Ramirez, the first guitarist invited to play with the Royal College of Musicmarker Orchestra, and successful rock bands like Breed 77, Melon Diesel and Taxi.

The best known Gibraltarian musician is Albert Hammond, who has had top 10 hits in the UK & US, and has written many songs for international artists such as Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Julio Iglesias among many others.

National Day

Gibraltar National Daymarker commemorates Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum when the people of Gibraltar voted to reject Spanish sovereignty or association by a massive majority. It is celebrated annually on 10 September, the same day the referendum was held in 1967. The day is a public holiday, during which most Gibraltarians dress in their national colours of red and white.

Since the first Gibraltar National Day in 1992 until recently, the day's main event has been a political rally which was held at Grand Casemates Square. In recent years, the main event has been held at John Mackintosh Square and hosted by the Mayor of Gibraltar from the balcony of the City Hall. The main event culminates with the symbolic release of 30,000 red and white balloons representing the people of Gibraltar.

The Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell described the event as:


Gibraltarians encircle the Rock in 2004.
In 2004, Gibraltar celebrated the 300th anniversary of its capture. In recognition of and with thanks for its long association with Gibraltar, the Royal Navy was given the freedom of the City. Another event saw nearly the entire population, dressed in red, white and blue, link hands to form a human chain encircling the Rock.


In 2007 there were eighteen Gibraltar Sports Associations with official recognition from their respective International Governing Bodies. Others, including the Gibraltar National Olympic Committee, have submitted applications for recognition which are being considered.

The Government supports the many sporting associations financially. Gibraltar also competes in the bi-annual Island Games, which it hosted in 1995.

Football is the most popular sport in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Football Association applied for full membership of UEFA, but their bid was turned down in 2007 in a contentious decision.

Cricket enjoys massive popularity in Gibraltar as the weather is perfectly suited to cricket games. The Gibraltar national cricket team recently won the European Cricket Championships.

Rugby union is fairly popular, and Campo Gibraltar RFC now play in the Andalusian second division.


Site of the first telephone exchange in City Mill Lane.
Gibraltar has a digital telephone exchange supported by a fibre optic and copper infrastructure. The main telephone operator, Gibtelecom, also operates a GSM network and is an Internet Service provider.

A local company Gibnet Limited, started the first Internet service in January 1996 and later changed its name to Sapphire Networks Limited.
Victorian Post Box of standard 1887 UK design in use in Gibraltar Old Town in 2008

International Direct Dialling is provided, and Gibraltar was allocated the access code 350 by the International Telecommunication Union. This works from all countries with IDD, including Spain, which has accepted its use since 10 February 2007, when the telecom dispute was resolved. Gibraltar mobile and fixed service numbers are eight digits.

Dial-up, ADSL, high-speed Internet lines are available, as are some wifi hotspots in hotels. Local operator CTS is rolling out WiMax.

The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporationmarker operates a television and radio station on UHF, VHF and medium-wave. The radio service is also Internet-streamed. Special events and the daily news bulletin are streamed in video.

The other local radio service is operated by British Forces Broadcasting Servicemarker who also provide a limited cable network for television to HM Forces.

The largest and most frequently published newspaper is the Gibraltar Chroniclemarker, Gibraltar’s oldest established daily newspaper and the world’s second oldest English language newspaper to have been in print continuously with daily editions six days a week. Panorama is published on weekdays, and Vox, 7 Days, The New People, and Gibsport are weekly.


The Cable Car.

Within Gibraltar, the main form of transport is the car. Motorbikes are popular and there is a good modern bus service. Unlike in other British territories, traffic drives on the right, as the territory shares a land border with Spain.

There is a cable car which runs from ground level to the top of the rock, with an intermediate station at the apes’ den, the cables are currently being replaced (in March 2009).

Restrictions on transport introduced by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco closed the land frontier in 1969 and prohibited any air or ferry connections. In 1982, the land border was reopened. As the result of an agreement signed in Cordobamarker on 18 September 2006 between Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Spain, the Spanish government agreed to relax the border controls at the frontier that have plagued locals for decades; in return, Britain will pay increased pensions to workers who lost their jobs when Franco closed the border. Restrictions on telephones were removed in 2007 and restrictions on movements at the airport were removed on 16 December 2006.

The first Iberia flight lands at Gibraltar.
Gibraltar maintains regular flight connections to Londonmarker and Manchestermarker. Scheduled flights to Moroccomarker and Madridmarker proved unsustainable due to insufficient demand.

GB Airways operated a service between Gibraltar and London and other cities for many years. The airline initially flew under the name "Gibraltar Airways." In 1989, and in anticipation of service to cities outside the UK, Gibraltar Airways changed its name to GB Airways with the belief that a new name would incur fewer political problems. As a franchise, the airline operated flights in full British Airways livery. In 2007 GB Airways was purchased by EasyJet who operate flights under their name from April 2008 when British Airways re-introduced flights to Gibraltar under their name. Monarch Airlines operate a daily scheduled service between Gibraltar and Luton. From September 2008 they operate a scheduled service to Manchester, UK. The Spanish national airline, Iberia, operated a daily service to Madrid which ceased due to lack of demand. In May 2009 Ándalus Líneas Aéreas opened a Spanish service. An annual return charter flight to Malta is operated by Maltese national airline, Air Malta.

Gibraltar Airportmarker is unusual not only due to its proximity to the centre of the city resulting in the airport terminal being within walking distance of much of Gibraltar but also because the runway intersects Winston Churchill Avenuemarker, the main north-south street, requiring movable barricades to close when aircraft land or depart. New roads and a tunnel for Winston Churchill Avenue, which will end the need to stop road traffic when aircraft use the runway, are planned to coincide with the building of a new airport terminal building with an originally estimated completion date of 2009, although due to delays this is now more likely to be 2010 or even 2011.

Motorists, and on occasion pedestrians, crossing the border with Spain have been subjected to long delays and searches by the Spanish authorities. Spain has closed the border during disputes or incidents involving the Gibraltar authorities, such as the Aurora cruise ship incident and when fishermen from the Spanish fishing vessel Pirana were arrested for illegal fishing in Gibraltar waters.

The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is Malaga Airportmarker in Spain, some 120 km to the east, which offers a wide range of destinations.

Gibraltar receives a large number of visits from cruise ships, and the Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Passenger and cargo ships anchor in the port of Gibraltar. Also, a daily ferry links Gibraltar with Tangiermarker, Moroccomarker.

There are no train or tram services within Gibraltar.


Royal Navy base in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar's defence is the responsibility of the tri-service British Forces Gibraltar. In January 2007, the Ministry of Defence announced that the private company - SERCO - would provide services to the base. The announcement resulted in the affected trade unions striking.

  • The Royal Gibraltar Regimentmarker provides the army garrison. The regiment was originally a part-time reserve force but the British Army placed it on the permanent establishment in 1990. The regiment includes full-time and part-time soldiers recruited from Gibraltar, as well as British Army regulars posted from other regiments.

  • The Royal Navy maintains a squadron at the Rock. The squadron is responsible for the security and integrity of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW). The shore establishment at Gibraltar is called Rooke after Sir George Rooke who captured the Rock for Archduke Charles (pretender to the Spanish throne) in 1704. Gibraltar's strategic position provides an important facility for the Royal Navy and Britain's allies.

Ships from the Spanish Navy do not call at Gibraltar.
British and U.S. nuclear submarines frequently visit the Z berths at Gibraltar. A Z berth provides the facility for nuclear submarines to visit for operational or recreational purposes, and for non-nuclear repairs.

  • The Royal Air Force station at Gibraltar forms part of Headquarters British Forces Gibraltar. Although aircraft are no longer permanently stationed at RAF Gibraltarmarker, a variety of RAF aircraft make regular visits to the Rock and the airfield also houses a section from the Met Office.

The Rock is believed to be a SIGINT listening post. Its strategic position provides a key GCHQmarker and National Security Agencymarker location for Mediterraneanmarker and North African coverage.

Gibraltar and the Falklands War

During the Falklands War, an Argentine plan to attack British shipping in the harbour using frogmen (Operation Algeciras) was foiled. The naval base also played a part in supporting the task force sent by Britain to recover the Falklands.

Attempted IRA bombing

On 6 March 1988, as part of Operation Flaviusmarker, the British SASmarker killed three members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Gibraltar. The three, Mairéad Farrell, Sean Savage, and Daniel McCann, were there on an IRA operation to plant a car bomb targeting the British Army band. All three IRA members were unarmed at the time, but a car they had hired was subsequently discovered in Spain with of Semtex explosive. The incident became the subject of a contentious Thames Television documentary, Death on the Rock. The ensuing "Death on the Rock" controversy prompted a major political row in the UK.

An inquest ruled the SAS's action to be lawful. The families of the deceased took the case to the European Court of Human Rightsmarker. In 1995 it held by ten votes to nine that the British government had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It also ruled that the three killed had been engaged in an act of terrorism, consequently dismissing unanimously the applicants' claims for damages, for costs and expenses incurred by the original inquest and for any remaining claims for just satisfaction.

Gibraltar in popular culture


  • In the film The Captain's Paradise, Alec Guinness plays the captain of a ship that travels between Gibraltar and Moroccomarker.
  • The film The Silent Enemy was filmed on location in Gibraltar in 1958. It is a dramatisation of the period during the Second World War when Lionel "Buster" Crabb served as a mine and disposal officer in Gibraltar while frogmen of the Italian Navy's Tenth Light Flotilla were sinking vital shipping.
  • The opening scene of the film The Living Daylights (from the James Bond film series) takes place in Gibraltar.
  • In the German-language film Das Boot, a German U-boat struggles in its attempt to get past the British navy in Gibraltar to relocate to a base in the Mediterranean sea.
  • In the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Gibraltar serves as a major military base for the ZAFT forces.


  • Anthony Burgess's novel A Vision of Battlements (1965), chronicling the troubled love-life of the British soldier Richard Ennis, is set in Gibraltar.
  • The satirical novel Gil Braltar by Jules Verne (1887) describes an almost successful attack of the monkeys on the fortress.
  • "The Day of an American Journalist in 2889", an 1889 Jules Verne short story, also mentions Gibraltar as the last territory of a British Empire that has lost the British Islesmarker themselves.
  • Raffles' Crime in Gibraltar by Barry Perowne, a Sexton Blake story set in Gibraltar in 1937 (U.S.marker title: They Hang Them in Gibraltar).
  • Scruffy by Paul Gallico is set on Gibraltar during World War II. It follows the steady decline in the size of the Macaque colony and the possible fulfilment of the superstition that Gibraltar will fall if it disappears.
  • As Molly Bloom is a native Gibraltarian, references to Gibraltar appear throughout James Joyce's Ulysses (1922). A sculpture of Molly Bloom as imagined by local artist Jon Searle is on display in the Alameda Gardensmarker.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Fountains of Paradise mentions the 'Gibraltar Bridge', a novel infrastructure connecting Europe and Africa.
  • John Masters' book The Rock is a collection of short stories set in Gibraltar: ranging from a story set in prehistoric times to one suggesting a possible future for the Rock.
  • In Maud Hart Lovelace's book Betsy and the Great World, the heroine goes on a cruise to Europe and makes a stop at Gibraltar, where she learns about its history and legends, and goes shopping.
  • Raymond Benson's James Bond novel Doubleshot deals with a fictional plot to forcibly return Gibraltar to Spain. The climax takes place in Gibraltar.


Notable people from Gibraltar

Notable or famous Gibraltarians include:

Town Twinnings


Gibraltar is currently twinned with the following European cities:


Gibraltar was once twinned with the following British town:

See also


  1. Stable and prosperous review 2008
  2. Informe sobre la cuestión de Gibraltar, Spanish Foreign Ministry
  3. Corrected transcript of evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee; 2008-03-28; Answer to Question 257 by Jim Murphy: [T]he UK Government will never – "never" is a seldom-used word in politics – enter into an agreement on sovereignty without the agreement of the Government of Gibraltar and their people. In fact, we will never even enter into a process without that agreement.
  4. the British attacked the Rock of Gibraltar
  5. "Gibraltar." Microsoft Encarta 2006 [DVD]. Microsoft Corporation, 2005.
  6. Paco Galliano. 2003. '"The Smallest Bank in the World. (Gibraltar: Gibraltar Books), p.57-9.
  7. Anthony Cave Brown, Bodyguard of Lies, Harper& Row, 1975, p. 239
  8. General's body to be exhumed
  9. Transcript of evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
  10. European Court Judgement
  11. Chief Minister's statement
  12. Britain tells Spain violation unacceptable
  13. Return of the Armada
  14. Communique of the forum July 2009
  15. Statement by the Minister for Europe
  16. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Barbary Macaque: Macaca sylvanus,, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
  17. BBC news - Churchill sends telegram to protect apes
  19. Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Gibraltar
  22. European Central Bank Monthly Bulletin, April 2006, page 96
  23. Managing a Global Enterprise, William R. Feist, James A. Heely, Min H. Lu, page 40
  24. Currency Board Arrangements, Tomás J. T. Baliño, Charles Enoch, International Monetary Fund, page 1
  25. Noble, John; Forsyth, Susan; Hardy, Paula; Hannigan, Des (2005). Andalucía. Lonely Planet. p. 221. ISBN 978-1740596763.
  26. Abstract of Statistics 2008
  27. Census of Gibraltar 2001
  28. United Nations World Population Prospects: 2006 revision – Table A.17 for 2005-2010
  29. :
  30. Abstract of Statistics 2008
  31. Hansard 27 October 2004: Column 1436
  32. Air Andalus flys from Gibraltar
  33. and images of the proposals:

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