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). 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.
Gibraltar became a key base for the British Royal Navy and played an important role prior to the Battle of Trafalgar and during the Crimean War of 1854–56, due to 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.
During World War II, Gibraltar's civilian population was evacuated (mainly to London, England, but also to parts of Morocco, Madeira and Jamaica) and the Rock was strengthened as a fortress. 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. The border with Spain was partially reopened in 1982 and fully reopened in 1985 prior to 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". The British government has committed itself to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes. 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.
Gibraltar's territory covers 6.8 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.
Gibraltar's terrain consists of the 426-metre-high (1,398 ft) Rock of Gibraltar made of Jurassiclimestone, 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.
Gibraltar has a subtropicalMediterranean climate (Köppen climate classificationCsa), with mild winters and warm summers. Rain occurs mainly in winter, with summer being generally dry. Its average annual temperature is about 21 °C (70 °F) during the day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature ranges from 11–18 °C (52–64 °F) during the day and 9–14 °C (48–57 °F) at night, the average sea temperature is 15–16 °C (59–61 °F). In the warmest month, August, the typical temperature ranges from 25–31 °C (77–88 °F) during the day, above 20 °C (68 °F) at night, the average sea temperature is 22 °C (72 °F).
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.
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.
The British military traditionally dominated Gibraltar's economy, with the naval dockyard providing the bulk of economic activity. This however, has diminished over the last 20 years, and is estimated to account for only 7 percent of the local economy, compared to over 60 percent in 1984. Today, Gibraltar's economy is dominated by four main sectors: financial services, online gambling, shipping and tourism, which includes retail sales to visitors.
In the early 2000s, many bookmakers and online gaming operators moved 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 was phased out by January 2011 and replaced by a fixed corporate tax rate of 10 percent.
Tourism is also a significant industry. Gibraltar is a popular port 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, but may be subject to Gibraltar taxes. Many of the large British high street chains have branches or franchises in Gibraltar including Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Mothercare. 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.
Queensway Quay Marina, along with Ocean Village, are two exclusive residential districts
In 1967, Gibraltar enacted the Companies (Taxation and Concessions) Ordinance (now an Act), 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 lawlegal system and access to the EU single market in financial services. The Financial Services Commission (FSC), which was established by an ordinance in 1989 (now an Act) 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 development. As of 2012, Gibraltar has 0.103 Big Four accounting firm offices per 1,000 population, the second highest in the world after the British Virgin Islands, and 0.6 banks per 1,000 people, the fifth most banks per capita in the world.
Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world, with a population estimated in 2011 of 29,752, equivalent to approximately 4,959 inhabitants per square kilometre (12,840/sq mi). 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 official language of Gibraltar is English, and 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 also spoken on the Rock. Berber and Arabic are spoken by the Moroccan community, as are Hindi and Sindhi by the Indian and the Pakistani communities of Gibraltar respectively. Hebrew is also spoken by the Jewish community and the Maltese language is spoken by some families of Maltese descent. Portuguese is also widely spoken.
The third religion in size is Islam (3.6% of the population). There is also an established Hindu population (2%), members of the Bahá'í Faith and a long-established Jewish community, which, at 763 persons, accounts for 2.4% of the population. As a share of the total population, this is the second-largest Jewish population in the world, trailing only Israel. There are four functioning Orthodox synagogues in Gibraltar and several kosher establishments.
Education in Gibraltar generally follows the English model, operating within a three tier system. Schools in Gibraltar use the Key Stage modular approach to teach the National Curriculum. Gibraltar has 15 state schools, a private school and a college of further education. On 31 March 2015 the government of Gibraltar announced the adoption of the University of Gibraltar Act and The University of Gibraltar is now expected to open in September 2015. Previously, there were no facilities in Gibraltar for full-time higher education, and consequently, all Gibraltarian students studied elsewhere at degree level or its equivalent and also for certain non-degree courses. The Government of Gibraltar operates a scholarship/grant system to provide funding for students studying in the United Kingdom. All Gibraltarian students used to follow the UK student loans procedure, applying for a loan from the Student Loans Company which was then reimbursed in full by the Government of Gibraltar. In August 2010, this system was replaced by the direct payment by the government of grants and tuition fees. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians continue their studies at university level.
The Gibraltar Health Authority is funded through the Gibraltar Group Practice Medical Scheme. It employs around 900 people, handling 37,000 A&E attendances, 40,000 outpatient appointments, and 90,000 GP visits a year. Some specialist care is provided by visiting consultants and in UK and Spanish hospitals. First-line medical and nursing services are provided at the Primary Care Centre, which has 16 GPs, with more specialised services available at St Bernard's Hospital, a 210-bed civilian hospital opened in 2005. Psychiatric care is provided by King George V Hospital.
The culture of Gibraltar reflects Gibraltarians' diverse origins. While there are Spanish (mostly from nearby Andalusia) and British influences, the ethnic origins of most Gibraltarians are not confined to these ethnicities. Other ethnicities include Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese, and German. A few other Gibraltar residents are Jewish of Sephardic origin, Moroccan, or Indians. British influence remains strong, with English being the language of government, commerce, education and the media.
The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation 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 the British Forces Broadcasting Service which also provides a limited cable television network to HM Forces. The largest and most frequently published newspaper is the Gibraltar Chronicle, 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 7 Days, The New People, and Gibsport are weekly.
Native Gibraltarians have produced some literature of note. The first in fiction was probably Héctor Licudi's 1929 novel Barbarita, written in Spanish, chronicling the largely autobiographical adventures of a young Gibraltarian man. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, several 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 language plays La Lola se va pá Londre and Connie con cama camera en el comedor. In the 1990s, the Gibraltarian man-of-lettersMario Arroyo published Profiles (1994), a series of bilingual meditations on love, loneliness and death. Of late there have been works by the essayist Mary Chiappe, such as her volume of essays Cabbages and Kings (2006) and by M. G. Sanchez, author of the books Rock Black: Ten Gibraltarian Stories (2008) and Diary of a Victorian Colonial (2009). Mary Chiappe and Sam Benady have also published a series of detective books centred on the character of the nineteenth-century Gibraltarian sleuth Bresciano.
In 2007, there were eighteen Gibraltar sports associations with official recognition from their respective international governing bodies. Others 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 a 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. Following another application, Gibraltar was confirmed as UEFA's 54th member on 24 May 2013. Their first match was a 0-0 draw against Slovakia.
Darts is also a popular sport, with the Gibraltar Darts Association (a full member of World Darts Federation since 1977) running leagues and other regular tournaments. In 2010, Gibraltar hosted and won the Mediterranean Cup, competing against France, Italy, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus.
Gibraltar has a digital telephone exchange supported by a fibre optic and copper infrastructure; the telephone operator Gibtelecom also operates a GSM network. Internet connectivity is available across the fixed network. Gibraltar's top-level domain code is .gi.
Within Gibraltar, the main form of transport is the car. Motorcycles are also very popular and there is a good modern bus service. Unlike in the UK and other British territories, traffic drives on the right, as the territory shares a land border with Spain.
Restrictions on transport introduced by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco closed the land frontier in 1969 and also prohibited any air or ferry connections. In 1982, the land border was reopened. As the result of an agreement signed in Córdoba on 18 September 2006 between Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Spain, the Spanish government agreed to relax border controls at the frontier that have plagued locals for decades; in return, Britain paid increased pensions to Spanish workers who lost their jobs when Franco closed the border. Telecommunication restrictions were lifted in February 2007 and air links with Spain were restored in December 2006.
Gibraltar maintains regular flight connections to London and Manchester. Scheduled flights to Morocco and Madrid proved unsustainable due to insufficient demand. Bmibaby started flights from East Midlands Airport to the Rock in March 2012, but the airline closed in September 2012.
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 which began operating flights under their name in April 2008 when British Airways re-introduced flights to Gibraltar under their name. Monarch Airlines operates a daily scheduled service between Gibraltar and Luton and Manchester. 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 which also ceased operations in March 2010. An annual return charter flight to Malta is operated by Maltese national airline, Air Malta.
The main road that crosses Gibraltar Airport.
The new terminal at Gibraltar Airport.
Gibraltar Airport is consistently listed as one of the world's scariest for air passengers. It is exposed to strong cross winds around the rock and across the Bay of Algeciras, making landings in winter particularly uncomfortable. Its location is unusual not only because of its proximity to the city centre resulting in the airport terminal being within walking distance of much of Gibraltar but also because the runway intersects Winston Churchill Avenue, the main north-south street, requiring movable barricades to close when aircraft land or depart. New roads and a tunnel, which will end the need to stop road traffic when aircraft use the runway, were planned to coincide with the building of a new airport terminal building with an originally estimated completion date of 2009, although due to delays has not been completed.
Motorists and pedestrians crossing the border with Spain are occasionally subjected to very long delays, an issue the Gibraltar government has failed to solve. Spain has occasionally 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 Piraña were arrested for illegal fishing in Gibraltar waters.
The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is Málaga Airport in Spain, some 120 kilometres (75 mi) to the east, which offers a wide range of destinations, second to Jerez Airport which is closer to Gibraltar. In addition, the Algeciras Heliport across the bay offers scheduled services to Ceuta.
Passenger and cargo ships anchor in the Gibraltar Harbour. Also, a ferry links Gibraltar with Tangier in Morocco. The ferry between Gibraltar and Algeciras, which had been halted in 1969 when Franco severed communications with Gibraltar, was finally reopened on 16 December 2009, served by the Spanish company Transcoma.
While railway track extends to the outskirts of La Linea from an aborted rail expansion project in the 1970s, the closest railway station in Spain is San Roque station, accessible via buses from La Línea.
Water supply and sanitation in Gibraltar have been major concerns for its inhabitants throughout its history. There are no rivers, streams, or large bodies of water on the peninsula. Gibraltar's water supply was formerly provided by a combination of an aqueduct, wells, and the use of cisterns, barrels and earthenware pots to capture rainwater. This became increasingly inadequate as Gibraltar's population grew in the 18th and 19th centuries and lethal diseases such as cholera and yellow fever began to spread. In the late 19th century, a Sanitary Commission instigated major improvements which saw the introduction of large-scale desalination and the use of giant water catchments covering over 2.5 million square feet (nearly 250,000 m²). Today Gibraltar's supply of drinking water comes entirely from desalination, with a separate supply of saltwater for sanitary purposes – both supplies are delivered from huge underground reservoirs excavated under the Rock of Gibraltar.
In general, the Gibraltar force follows British police models in its dress and its mostly male constables and sergeants on foot patrol wear the traditional custodian helmet, the headgear of the British "bobby on the beat". The helmet is traditionally made of cork covered outside by felt or serge-like material that matches the tunic. The vehicles also appear virtually identical to typical UK police vehicles, but are left hand drive.
The force, whose name received the prefix "Royal" in 1992, currently numbers over 220 officers divided into a number of units. These include the CID, drug squad, special branch, firearms, scene of crime examiners, traffic, marine and operations units, sections or departments.
On 24 September 2015 the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar was conferred upon the RGP by His Worship the Mayor Adolfo Canepa.
Gibraltar's defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom tri-services 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 Regiment provides the army garrison with a detachment of the British Army, based at Devils Tower Camp. The regiment was originally a part-time reserve force until the British Army placed it on a permanent footing 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 HMS Rooke after Sir George Rooke who captured the Rock for Archduke Charles (pretender to the Spanish throne) in 1704. The naval air base was named HMS Cormorant. Gibraltar's strategic position provides an important facility for the Royal Navy and Britain's allies. British and US 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. 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.
The Royal Air Force station at Gibraltar forms part of Headquarters British Forces Gibraltar. Although aircraft are no longer permanently stationed at RAF Gibraltar, a variety of RAF aircraft make regular visits and the airfield also houses a section from the Met Office.
Gibraltar has an important role in UKSIGINT and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
^Despite several sites reporting that tag rugby was invented by Perry Haddock in Australia around 1990 (this is OzTag, a variant of Tag Rugby), Godwin's wrote about the topic seven years prior. Godwin does not mention when the sport began on Gibraltar, but he does explicitly use the term "Tag Rugby" to describe the game.
^Statistics Office (2009). "Abstract of Statistics 2009"(PDF). Statistics Office of the Government of Gibraltar. p. 2.The civilian population includes Gibraltarian residents, other British residents (including the wives and families of UK-based servicemen, but not the servicemen themselves) and non-British residents. Visitors and transients are not included.
In 2009, this broke down into 23,907 native-born citizens, 3,129 UK British citizens and 2,395 others, making a total population of 29,431. On census night, there were 31,623 people present in Gibraltar.
^Maurice Harvey (1996). Gibraltar. A History. Spellmount Limited. pp. 50–51. ISBN1-86227-103-8.
^Lamelas Oladán, Diego (1 April 1990). "Asentamiento en Gibraltar en 1474 y expulsión en 1476"(PDF). Almoraima. Revista de Estudios Campogibraltareños (in Spanish) (Instituto de Estudios Gibraltareños) (3 (Suplemento 'La compra de Gibraltar por los conversos andaluces (1474–1476)')): 25.
^William Jackson (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (Second ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom: Gibraltar Books. p. 101. ISBN0-948466-14-6.
^Parliament.uk, UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee 2007–2008 Report, pg 16
^Telegraph.co.uk, David Blair, Gibraltar makes plans for self-government, Daily Telegraph, 28 February 2002 "GIBRALTAR'S parliament approved an ambitious package of constitutional reform yesterday designed to give the colony almost complete self-government."
^TheCommonwealth.org[dead link], The Secretariat of the Commonwealth: "The governor represents the British monarch who is head of state and retains direct responsibility for all matters not specifically allocated to local ministers: principally external affairs, defence and internal security"
^GPA.gi[dead link], Gibraltar Police Authority, About the Gibraltar Police Authority – Other Duties and Responsibilities – Accountability: "1. to be accountable to the Governor on policing aspects of national security including internal security (section 12); 2. to be accountable to the Government for those parts of the Annual Policing Plan which do not relate to national security (section 15)."
^Gibraltar.gov.gi, Gibraltar Chief Minister's address at the United Nations Committee of 24 on 5 June 2007: The new Constitution "maximises self Government in all areas of Governance except defence, external affairs and internal security which, under our own Constitution vest in the Governor as a matter of distribution of powers."
^ abBBC News website, Regions and territories: Gibraltar "Gibraltar is self-governing in all areas except defence and foreign policy."
^Legco.gov.hk, Page 6, "Lords of Appeal in Ordinary in the House of Lords are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, but the Lord Chancellor's opinion is generally sought. This method of appointment is a matter of practice and convention, not of written law."