Gibraltar

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Gibraltar
Motto: "Montis Insignia Calpe" (Latin)
"Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar"[1]
Anthem: "God Save the Queen" (official)

"Gibraltar Anthem" (local)[2]
Location of  Gibraltar  (dark green)– in Europe  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)
Location of  Gibraltar  (dark green)

– in Europe  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)

Map of Gibraltar
Map of Gibraltar
Status British Overseas Territory
Capital Gibraltar
36°8′N 5°21′W / 36.133°N 5.350°W / 36.133; -5.350
Largest district
(by population)
Westside
Official languages English
Spoken languages
Ethnic groups
Demonym Gibraltarian
Llanito (colloquial)
Government Representative democratic parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Elizabeth II
Ed Davis
Fabian Picardo
• Mayor
Kaiane Aldorino
Legislature Parliament
Formation
4 August 1704[3]
• Ceded
11 April 1713[4]
10 September
• Joined the EEC
1 January 1973b
Area
• Total
6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi)
• Water (%)
0
Population
• 2015 estimate
32,194[5] (222nd)
• Density
4,328/km2 (11,209.5/sq mi) (5th)
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
• Total
£1.64 billion
• Per capita
£50,941 (n/a)
HDI (2015) 0.861[6]
very high · 40th
Currency Gibraltar pound (£)c (GIP)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST)
CEST (UTC+2)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the rightd
Calling code +350e
Patron saint
ISO 3166 code GI
Internet TLD .gif
  1. Of mixed Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese and Spanish descent.
  2. As a Special Member State territory of the United Kingdom.
  3. Coins and sterling notes are issued by the Government of Gibraltar.
  4. Unlike all other UK dependencies except the British Indian Ocean Territory, since 16 June 1929.
  5. 9567 from Spain before 10 February 2007.
  6. The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union member states.

    UK Postcode: GX11 1AA
    [7]

Gibraltar (/ɪˈbrɔːltər/ ji-BRAWL-tər, /ɪˈbrɒltər/ ji-BROL-tər or other permutations; Spanish pronunciation: [xiβɾalˈtaɾ]) is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.[8][9] It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and shares its northern border with Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region. At its foot is a densely populated city area, home to over 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.[10]

An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Great Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only eight miles (13 km) wide at this naval "choke point" and remains strategically important to this day with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait.[11][12][13] Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services, and cargo ship refuelling services.[14][15]

The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory.[15] Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and again in 2002. Under the Gibraltar constitution of 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defence and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the British government.

Name[edit]

The name Gibraltar is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq (جبل طارق), meaning "Mountain of Tariq". It refers to the Rock of Gibraltar, which was named after the Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Umayyad force in 711 under the command of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. Earlier, it was known as Mons Calpe, a name of Phoenician origin and one of the Pillars of Hercules.[16]

The pronunciation of the name in modern Spanish is [xiβɾalˈtaɾ] (IPA).

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

View of the northern face of the Moorish Castle's Tower of Homage. Built in the 14th century.

Evidence of Neanderthal habitation in Gibraltar has been discovered at Gorham's Cave.[17] Within recorded history, the first inhabitants were the Phoenicians, around 950 BC. Subsequently, Gibraltar became known as one of the Pillars of Hercules, after the Greek legend of the creation of the Strait of Gibraltar by Heracles. The Carthaginians and Romans also established semi-permanent settlements. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Gibraltar came briefly under the control of the Vandals, who crossed into Africa at the invitation of Boniface, the Count (or commander) of the territory.

The area later formed part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania from 414 AD until the Islamic conquest of Iberia in 711 AD.

Settlement[edit]

In 1160, the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle, be built. It received the name of Medinat al-Fath (City of the Victory).[18] On completion of the works in the town, the Sultan crossed the Strait to look at the works and stayed in Gibraltar for two months. The Tower of Homage of the Moorish Castle remains standing today. From 1274 onwards, the town was fought over and captured by the Nasrids of Granada (in 1237 and 1374), the Marinids of Morocco (in 1274 and 1333) and the kings of Castile (in 1309). In 1462, Gibraltar was finally captured by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia.[19]

After the conquest, King Henry IV of Castile assumed the additional title of King of Gibraltar, establishing it as part of the comarca of the Campo Llano de Gibraltar.[20] Six years later, Gibraltar was restored to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who sold it in 1474 to a group of 4350 conversos (Christian converts from Judaism) from Cordova and Seville and in exchange for maintaining the garrison of the town for two years, after which time they were expelled, returning to their home towns or moving on to other parts of Spain.[21] In 1501, Gibraltar passed back to the Spanish Crown, and Isabella I of Castile issued a Royal Warrant granting Gibraltar the coat of arms that it still uses today.

In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet, representing the Grand Alliance, captured the town of Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Austria in his campaign to become King of Spain. The occupation of the town by Alliance forces caused the exodus of the population to the surrounding area of the Campo de Gibraltar.[22][23] As the Alliance's campaign faltered, the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht was negotiated and ceded control of Gibraltar to Britain to secure Britain's withdrawal from the war. Unsuccessful attempts by Spanish monarchs to regain Gibraltar were made with the siege of 1727 and again with the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779 to 1783), during the American War of Independence.

Gibraltar became a key base for the Royal Navy and played an important role prior to the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) and during the Crimean War of 1854–56, because of its strategic location. Its strategic value increased with the opening of the Suez Canal, as it lay on the sea route between the UK and the British Empire east of Suez. In the later 19th century, there were major investments in improving the fortifications and the port.[24]

Buildings of the former HM Dockyard, Gibraltar, dating from the 1895 expansion

Modern history[edit]

During the Second World War, a Douglas Dakota of BOAC is silhouetted at Gibraltar by the batteries of searchlights on the Rock, as crews prepare it for a night flight to the United Kingdom.

During the Second World War, Gibraltar's civilian population was evacuated (mainly to London, but also to parts of Morocco, Madeira and Jamaica) and the Rock was strengthened as a fortress. The naval base and the ships based there played a key role in the provisioning and supply of the island of Malta during its long siege. As well as frequent short runs (known as 'Club Runs') towards Malta to fly off aircraft reinforcements (initially Hurricanes but later, notably from the USN aircraft carrier Wasp, Spitfires), the critical Operation Pedestal convoy was run from Gibraltar in August 1942. This resupplied the island at a critical time in the face of concentrated air attacks from German and Italian forces. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's reluctance to allow the German Army onto Spanish soil frustrated a German plan to capture the Rock, codenamed Operation Felix. In the 1950s, Franco renewed Spain's claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar and restricted movement between Gibraltar and Spain. Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain under British sovereignty in the Gibraltar sovereignty referendum, 1967, which led to the passing of the Gibraltar Constitution Order in 1969. In response, Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar and severed all communication links.[25] The border with Spain was partially reopened in 1982 and fully reopened in 1985 before Spain's accession to the European Community.

In a referendum held in 2002, Gibraltarians rejected by an overwhelming majority (98%) a proposal of shared sovereignty on which Spain and Britain were said to have reached "broad agreement".[26][27] The British government has committed itself to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes.[28] A new Constitution Order was approved in referendum in 2006. A process of tripartite negotiations started in 2006 between Spain, Gibraltar and the UK, ending some restrictions and dealing with disputes in some specific areas such as air movements, customs procedures, telecommunications, pensions and cultural exchange.[29]

In the British referendum on membership of the European Union 96% of Gibraltarians voted to remain on an 82% turnout.[30] Spain renewed calls for joint Spanish–British control of the peninsula,[31] which were strongly rebuffed by Gibraltar's Chief Minister.[32]

Governance[edit]

Main Street entrance to the Governor's Residence, The Convent

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. The British Nationality Act 1981 granted Gibraltarians full British citizenship.

Under its current constitution, Gibraltar has almost complete internal democratic self-government through an elected parliament,[33][34][35][36] elected for a term of up to four years. The unicameral parliament presently consists of 17 elected members, and the Speaker who is not elected, but appointed by a resolution of the parliament.[37] The government consists of 10 elected members. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar. The governor enacts day-to-day matters on the advice of the Gibraltar Parliament, but is responsible to the British government in respect of defence, foreign policy, internal security and general good governance. Judicial and other appointments are made on behalf of the Queen in consultation with the head of the elected government.[38][39][40][41][42][42][43]

The 2011 election was contested by the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP)-Gibraltar Liberal Party (GLP) Alliance and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP is a new party, formed in 2006 and fielded candidates in the 2007 election, but none were elected. The head of government is the Chief Minister (as of December 2011, Fabian Picardo). All local political parties oppose any transfer of sovereignty to Spain, instead supporting self-determination. The main UK opposition parties also support this policy, and it is British government policy not to engage in talks about the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of the people of Gibraltar.[44]

Gibraltar is part of the European Union, having joined through the European Communities Act 1972 (UK), which gave effect to the Treaty of Accession 1972, as a dependent territory of the United Kingdom under what was then article 227(4) of the Treaty Establishing the European Community covering special member state territories, with exemption from some areas such as the European Union Customs Union, Common Agricultural Policy and the Schengen Area. It is the only British Overseas Territory which is part of the European Union. After a 10-year campaign for the right to vote in European elections, since 2004 the people of Gibraltar have participated in elections for the European Parliament as part of the South West England constituency.[45] On 23 June 2016 Gibraltar voted along with the United Kingdom in the EU referendum; 96% of its population voted to remain, but the overall United Kingdom result gave a 51.9% majority to leaving the EU.[46]

Gibraltar was nominated to be included on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories by the United Kingdom when the list was created in 1946[47] and has been listed ever since.[48] The government of Gibraltar has actively worked to have Gibraltar removed from the list,[49] and in 2008 the British government declared Gibraltar's continued presence on the list an anachronism.[50]

Gibraltar is not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations but was granted Associate Membership of the Commonwealth Foundation in 2004. Gibraltar has competed in the Commonwealth Games since 1958.

Party Members of Parliament Party MEPs
Socialist Labour 7 Conservative
(Gibraltar Conservatives)
2
Social Democrats 6 UKIP 2
Liberal 3 Labour 1
Independent 1 Green 1
Total 17 Total 6

Geography[edit]

Gibraltar from the air, looking north-west.

Gibraltar's territory covers 6.7 square kilometres (2.6 sq mi) and shares a 1.2-kilometre (0.75 mi) land border with Spain. The town of La Línea de la Concepción, a municipality of the province of Cádiz, lies on the Spanish side of the border. The Spanish hinterland forms the comarca of Campo de Gibraltar (literally "Countryside of Gibraltar"). The shoreline measures 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) in length. There are two coasts ("Sides") of Gibraltar: the East Side, which contains the settlements of Sandy Bay and Catalan Bay; and the Westside, where the vast majority of the population lives. Gibraltar has no administrative divisions but is divided into seven Major Residential Areas.

Having negligible natural resources and few natural freshwater resources, limited to natural wells in the north, until recently Gibraltar used large concrete and/or natural rock water catchments to collect rainwater. 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.[51]

Gibraltar's terrain consists of the 426-metre-high (1,398 ft) Rock of Gibraltar[52] made of Jurassic limestone, and the narrow coastal lowland surrounding it. It contains many tunnelled roads, most of which are still operated by the military and closed to the general public.

Morocco (top far left across Strait); Spain: Algeciras (top center across Bay of Gibraltar) and La Linea (right); Gibraltar cruise port and airport runway (right foreground); from the Rock

Climate[edit]

Gibraltar has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa),[53][54] with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. As is the case for nearby Algeciras and Tarifa, summers are significantly cooler and annual temperature more constant than other cities on the southern coast of the Iberian peninsula because of its position on the Strait of Gibraltar. Rain occurs mainly in winter, with summer being generally dry. Its average annual temperature is about 22 °C (72 °F) as a daily high and 15 °C (59 °F) as the overnight low. In the coldest month, January, the high temperature averages 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) and the overnight low is 11 °C (52 °F) and the average sea temperature is 16 °C (61 °F). In the warmest month, August, the daily hight temperature is 25 °C (77 °F), the overnight low is 20 °C (68 °F), and the average sea temperature is 22 °C (72 °F).[55] [56]

Climate data for Gibraltar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 16.3
(61.3)
16.8
(62.2)
18.5
(65.3)
20.0
(68)
22.4
(72.3)
25.6
(78.1)
28.2
(82.8)
28.4
(83.1)
26.1
(79)
22.6
(72.7)
19.2
(66.6)
17
(63)
21.76
(71.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.5
(56.3)
14.1
(57.4)
15.6
(60.1)
16.7
(62.1)
19
(66)
21.9
(71.4)
24.2
(75.6)
24.6
(76.3)
22.9
(73.2)
19.8
(67.6)
16.6
(61.9)
14.6
(58.3)
18.63
(65.52)
Average low °C (°F) 10.8
(51.4)
11.4
(52.5)
12.6
(54.7)
13.4
(56.1)
15.6
(60.1)
18.2
(64.8)
20.2
(68.4)
20.8
(69.4)
19.6
(67.3)
17
(63)
14
(57)
12.1
(53.8)
15.48
(59.87)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 106.6
(4.197)
99
(3.9)
74.3
(2.925)
65.9
(2.594)
33.1
(1.303)
8.6
(0.339)
1
(0.04)
8.8
(0.346)
20
(0.79)
80.7
(3.177)
121.6
(4.787)
173.8
(6.843)
793
(31.22)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7 7 6 7 4 1 0 0 2 6 8 9 58
Mean monthly sunshine hours 147 143 204 233 289 319 326 309 240 197 135 134 2,676
Source: Metéo Climat 1981-2010 (sun Deutscher Wetterdienst, 1961–1990)[55]

[57][nb 1]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Over 500 different species of flowering plants grow on the Rock. Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberis gibraltarica) is found growing in the wild; the plant is otherwise native to North Africa. It is the symbol of the Upper Rock nature reserve. Olive and pine trees are among the most common of those growing around the Rock.

Most of the Rock's upper area is covered by a nature reserve which is home to around 230 Barbary macaques, the famous "apes" of Gibraltar, which are actually monkeys. These are the only wild apes or monkeys found in Europe.[58] This species, known scientifically as Macaca sylvanus, is listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List and is declining. Three-quarters of the world population live in the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco. Recent genetic studies and historical documents point to their presence on the Rock before its capture by the British, having possibly been introduced during the Islamic period. A superstition analogous to that of the ravens at the Tower of London states that if the apes ever leave, so will the British. In 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was so concerned about the dwindling population of apes that he sent a message to the Colonial Secretary requesting that something be done about the situation.[59]

Other mammals found in Gibraltar include rabbits, foxes and bats. Dolphins and whales are frequently seen in the Bay of Gibraltar. Migrating birds are very common and Gibraltar is home to the only Barbary partridges found on the European continent.

In 1991, Graham Watson, Gibraltar's