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Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Montis Insignia Calpe" (Latin)
"This is the badge of the mountain Calpe"
Anthem:  God Save the Queen  (official)
Gibraltar Anthem  (local) 
Location of  Gibraltar  (dark green)– in Europe  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Gibraltar  (dark green)

– in Europe  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

Map of Gibraltar
Map of Gibraltar
Capital Gibraltar
36°8′N 5°21′W
Largest district
(by population)
Official languages English
Spoken languages
  • English
  • Spanish
  • Llanito
Ethnic groups
  • Gibraltariana
  • other British
  • Moroccan
  • Indian
Demonym Gibraltarian
Government British overseas territoryb
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor Sir Adrian Johns
 -  Chief Minister Fabian Picardo
 -  Responsible Minister ( UK) David Lidington MP
Event Date
 -  Captured 4 August 1704 
 -  Ceded 11 April 1713 
 -  National Day 10 September 
 -  Total 6.8 km2 ( 241st)
2.6 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0
 -  2011 estimate 29,752 ( 211th)
 -  Density 4,328/km2 ( 5th)
11,320/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total £1 billion
 -  Per capita £27,468 ( n/a)
HDI (2011) 0.863
very high · 28th
Currency Gibraltar pound ( £)d ( GIP)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the righte
Calling code 350f
Patron saint
  • Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Our Lady of Europe
ISO 3166 code GI
Internet TLD .gig
a. Of mixed Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese and Spanish descent.
b. Representative democratic parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy.
c. As a Special Member State territory of the United Kingdom.
d. Coins and sterling notes are issued by the Government of Gibraltar.
e. Unlike all other UK dependencies bar the British Indian Ocean Territory.
f. 9567 from Spain before 10 February 2007.
g. The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union members.

Gibraltar (pron.: / ɨ ˈ b r ɒ l t ə r /) is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. It has an area of 6.8 square kilometres (2.6 sq mi) and a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the only landmark of the region. At its foot is the densely populated city area, home to almost 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.

An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from the Kingdom of Castile in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It was an important base for the Royal Navy; today its economy is based largely on tourism, online gaming, financial services, and shipping.

The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians 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 UK Government.


The name Gibraltar is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal-ı Tārıq (جبل طارق), meaning "mountain of Tariq." It refers to the geological formation, the Rock of Gibraltar, which in turn 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, one of the Pillars of Hercules.

Early history

View of the northern face of the Moorish Castle's Tower of Homage. Built in the 14th century, it is the only Marinid construction outside Africa.

Evidence of Neanderthal habitation in Gibraltar between 128,000 and 24,000 BC has been discovered at Gorham's Cave, making Gibraltar the last known holdout of the Neanderthals. 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.

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


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 inspect 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 by the Nasrids of Granada, the Marinids of Morocco and the Catholic kings of Castile. In 1462, Gibraltar was finally captured by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia.

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. Six years later Gibraltar was restored to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who sold it in 1474 to a group of Jewish conversos from Cordova in exchange for maintaining the garrison of the town for two years, after which time they were expelled. 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 force captured the town of Gibraltar, leading to a permanent exodus of much of the existing population to the surrounding areas of the Campo de Gibraltar. Under the terms of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in perpetuity. Spain unsuccessfully attempted to regain control in the siege of 1727 and again during the extended Great Siege of Gibraltar, which lasted from 1779 to 1783.

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 (99%) 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.

Government and politics

John Mackintosh Square entrance to the Gibraltar Parliament.

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, elected for a term of up to four years. The unicameral Parliament presently consists of seventeen elected members, and the Speaker who is not elected, but appointed by a resolution of the Parliament. The Government consists of ten 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.

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). A new party, the PDP, was 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 UK Government policy not to engage in talks about the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of the people of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is part of the European Union, having joined via the Single European Act 1972 and British Treaty of Accession in 1973, with exemption from some areas such as the Customs union and Common Agricultural Policy. The Treaties relating to coal, steel, agriculture, and fisheries do not apply simply because Gibraltar does not produce any of those resources. After a ten-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.


Gibraltar from the air, looking north-west.

Gibraltar's territory covers 6.843 square kilometres (2.642 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.

Gibraltar's terrain consists of the 426-metre (1,398 ft) high Rock of Gibraltar 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.


Gibraltar has a subtropical Mediterranean climate ( Köppen climate classification Csa), 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 typically 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).

Climate data for Gibraltar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 16
Daily mean °C (°F) 13
Average low °C (°F) 10
Precipitation mm (inches) 152
Avg. rainy days 10 7 10 6 4 1 0.5 1 2 5 7 10 63.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 186.0 196.0 217.0 240.0 310.0 330.0 341.0 341.0 270.0 217.0 180.0 186.0 3,014
Source: BBC Weather

Flora and fauna

Gibraltar candytuft growing at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.
A common dolphin in the Bay of Gibraltar.

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 – often mistakenly called "apes"–that are the only wild monkeys found in Europe. 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. A superstition analogous to that of the ravens at the Tower of London states that if the monkeys ever leave, so will the British. In 1944 British Prime Minister 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 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 MEP, highlighted conservationists' fears that urban development, tourism and invasive plant species were threatening Gibraltar's own plants as well as birds and bat species.


The semi-wild Barbary Macaques are an integral feature in Gibraltar's tourism.

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 twenty years, and is estimated to account for only 7% of the local economy, compared to over 60% in 1984. Today, Gibraltar's economy is dominated by four main sectors: financial services, internet gaming, shipping and tourism (including retail for visitors).

In the early 2000s, many bookmakers and online gaming operators 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 was phased out by January 2011 and replaced by an across the board Corporate Tax rate of 10%.

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. Many of the large British high street chains have branches or franchises in Gibraltar including 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.

Ocean Village Marina, an exclusive residential district.

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 Galliano, which began operations in Gibraltar in 1855. An ancestor of Barclays, the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, entered in 1888, and Credit Foncier (now Crédit Agricole) entered in 1920.

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 law legal 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.

The currency of Gibraltar is the Gibraltar pound, issued by the Government of Gibraltar under the terms of the 1934 Currency Notes Act. These banknotes are legal tender in Gibraltar alongside Bank of England banknotes. In a currency board arrangement, these notes are issued against reserves of sterling. Clearing and settlement of funds is conducted in sterling. Coins in circulation follow British denominations but have separate designs. Unofficially, most retail outlets in Gibraltar accept the euro, though some payphones and the Royal Gibraltar Post Office do not.


The Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Europe at Europa Point was once a mosque and lighthouse.
The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is the larger of the two cathedrals in Gibraltar.
The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque was a gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

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.

Ethnic groups

The demographics of Gibraltar reflect the many European and other economic migrants who came to the Rock over three hundred years, after almost all of the Spanish population left in 1704.

The main ethnic groups, according to the origin of names in the electoral roll, are Britons (27%), Spanish (24%, mostly Andalusians but also some 2% of Minorcans), Genoese and other Italians (20%), Portuguese (10%), Maltese (8%), and Jews (3%). There are also small (less than 1%) peoples of other groups such as Moroccans, French, Austrians, Chinese, Japanese, Polish and Danish.

The Gibraltar Census 2001 recorded the breakdown of nationalities in Gibraltar as being 83.22% Gibraltarian, 9.56% "Other British", 3.50% Moroccan, 1.19% Spanish and 1.00% "Other EU".


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 community of Gibraltar. Hebrew is also spoken by the Jewish community and the Maltese language is still spoken by some families of Maltese descent.

Gibraltarians often converse in Llanito (pronounced:  [ʎaˈnito]), a vernacular unique to Gibraltar. It is based on Andalusian Spanish with a strong admixture of British English and elements from languages such as Maltese, Portuguese, Genoese Italian and Haketia (Ladino). Over 500 Llanito words, for example, are of Genoese and Hebrew origin. Llanito also often involves code-switching to English.

Gibraltarians often call themselves Llanitos.


According to the 2001 census, approximately 78.1% of Gibraltarians are Roman Catholics. The sixteenth century Saint Mary the Crowned is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar, and also the oldest Catholic church in the territory. Other Christian denominations include the Church of England (7.0%), whose Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is the cathedral of the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe; the Gibraltar Methodist Church, Church of Scotland, various Pentecostal and independent churches mostly influenced by the House Church and Charismatic movements, as well as a Plymouth Brethren congregation. Several of these congregations are represented by the Gibraltar Evangelical Alliance. There is also a ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Jehovah's Witnesses. 2.9% advised that they have no religion.

The third religion in size is Islam (4.0% of the population). There is also an established Hindu population (1.8%), members of the Bahá'í Faith and a long-established Jewish community, which, at 584 persons, accounts for 2.1% of the population. There are four functioning Orthodox synagogues in Gibraltar and several kosher establishments.


Comparison of school structures in Gibraltar and England.

Education in Gibraltar generally follows the English system, operating within a three tier system. Schools in Gibraltar use the Key Stage modular approach to teach the National Curriculum. Gibraltar has fifteen state schools, a MOD school, a private school and a College of Further Education. As there are no facilities in Gibraltar for full-time higher education, all Gibraltarian students study 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.

Health care

All Gibraltarians are entitled to health care in public wards 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 medicines are free of charge for Gibraltarian students and pensioners. First-line medical and nursing services are provided at the Primary Care Centre, with more specialised services available at St Bernard's Hospital. Psychiatric care is provided by King George V Hospital.


Tercentenary celebrations in Gibraltar.

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.

Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum is celebrated annually on Gibraltar National Day (10 September). It is a public holiday, during which most Gibraltarians dress in their national colours of red and white and 30,000 similarly coloured balloons are released, to represent the people of Gibraltar. The 300th anniversary of Gibraltar's capture was celebrated in 2004 on Tercentenary Day (4 August), when in recognition of and with thanks for its long association with Gibraltar, the Royal Navy was given the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar and a human chain of Gibraltarians dressed in red, white and blue, linked hands to encircle the Rock. On 4 June 2012, the Gibraltar Diamond Jubilee Flotilla, inspired by the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, celebrated sixty years of the Queen's reign.

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-letters Mario 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.

Musicians from Gibraltar include Charles Ramirez, the first guitarist invited to play with the Royal College of Music Orchestra, successful rock bands like Breed 77, Melon Diesel and Taxi. Albert Hammond had top 10 hits in the UK and US and has written many songs for international artists such as Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Julio Iglesias.

The cuisine of Gibraltar is the result of the rich diversity of civilizations who held the Rock during its history; from the Berbers of North Africa to the Andalusians and British. The culinary influences include those from Malta, Genoa, Portugal and Andalusia. This marriage of tastes has given Gibraltar an eclectic mix of Arabic, Mediterranean and British cuisines. Calentita, a baked bread-like dish made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, is considered Gibraltar's national dish.


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. Cricket enjoys massive popularity in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar national cricket team won the European Cricket Championship Division Two in 2000 and 2002. Rugby union is fairly popular and one of the fastest growing team sports, Gibraltar Rugby Union Football Union has now applied for membership of Europe's governing body for rugby and await a decision. A complaint has been received from the Spanish Federation.

The Gibraltar Rifle Association (GRA) was Gibraltar's most successful team at the 2009 Island Games, earning four gold medals. The first was won by Heloise Manasco and Stephanie Piri in the ISSF 10m Air Rifle Team event. Manasco later went on to win a second gold in the individual competition. Wayne Piri and Adrian Lugnani took the gold medal in the ISSF 50m Small Bore Team event with Wayne winning the fourth gold for Gibraltar in the individual competition of the same event.

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.


A plaque in City Mill Lane marking the site of Gibraltar's first telephone exchange.
A Victorian Post Box of standard 1887 UK design in use in Gibraltar's Main Street (2008).

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. Local operator CTS is rolling out WiMAX.

International Direct Dialling (IDD) is provided, and Gibraltar was allocated the access code +350 by the International Telecommunication Union. This has been universally valid since 10 February 2007, when the telecom dispute was resolved.


The Gibraltar Cable Car runs from outside the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens to the top of the Rock.

Within Gibraltar, the main form of transport is the car. Motorbikes are also very 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 Gibraltar Cable Car which runs from ground level to the top of the Rock, with an intermediate station at Apes’ Den.

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. Budget airline easyJet also flies to Liverpool. Scheduled flights to Morocco and Madrid proved unsustainable due to insufficient demand. Bmibaby also fly from East Midlands Airport to the Rock as from March 2012, opening an airlink to the Midlands. However, due to the closure of Bmibaby in September 2012, these flights will no longer continue.

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 operate 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 unusual not only due to 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, 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 the airport will now fully open in early 2012.

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.

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

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.

Whilst railway track extends to the outskirts of La Linea, the closest train station in Spain is San Roque station, accessible via buses from La Línea.

Ferries by FRS running twice a week from Gibraltar to Tanger-Med port provide access to the Moroccan railway system.


Royal Gibraltar Police, Marine Section

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and Gibraltar Customs are Gibraltar's principal civilian law enforcement agencies. Outside the United Kingdom, the RGP is the oldest police force in the Commonwealth of Nations, formed shortly after the creation of London's Metropolitan Police in 1829 when Gibraltar was declared a crown colony on 25 June 1830.

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 force, whose name received the prefix "Royal" in 1992, currently numbers over 220 officers divided into a number of units. These include CID, Drug Squad, Special Branch, Firearms, Scene of Crime Examiners, Traffic, Marine and Operations units, sections or departments.


The Royal Navy's 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 Regiment provides the army garrison, 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 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. 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 to the Rock and the airfield also houses a section from the Met Office.

Town twinnings


Gibraltar is currently twinned with Funchal, Madeira (2009) and Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK (2006). It was once twinned with Goole, England, UK.

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