Gibraltar

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Gibraltar's location on the Iberian Peninsula

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom comprising a rocky peninsula attached to the southern coast of Spain. Captured in 1704, it was ceded to Great Britain by Spain under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Since then it has provided Britain with an important naval and military base at the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.

The territory is dominated by the huge Rock of Gibraltar, which is honeycombed with military tunnels. The Rock is inhabited by the famous. Barbary Macaques, the only free ranging monkeys in Europe. Legend has it that Britain will hold Gibraltar as long as these roam the Rock. The Rock itself is 4.4 kilometres long and 1.2 kilometres wide and at its highest point is 419m above sea level.

Map of Gibraltar

The population comprises around 28,000 Gibraltarians, the largest ethnic group, of which 78% belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

Spain has called for Great Britain to return Gibraltar but the majority of the Gibraltarians reject this. In a referendum in 2002 over 99% voted against a proposal for shared sovereignty.

Politically Gibraltar is governed by a locally elected parliament under the 2006 constitution. The UK is responsible for defence and foreign affairs. It is part of the EU, having joined under the British Treaty of Accession.

Since the closure of the naval dockyard, which was the major employer, in 1984, Gibraltar has developed a diverse economy based on tourism, financial services, shipping and the Internet.

Notable people born in Gibraltar include Sir William Penny, nuclear scientist, Albert Hammond, international musician and John Galliano the designer.


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