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Gibraltar

 

Sitting at the southern bend of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula and looking towards the northern coast of Africa is Gibraltar. It was one of the Pillars of Hercules, and a mark of the edge of the ancient world; it is also one of the modern world’s most famous landmarks. Its unique location at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea has made it a focus for the struggle of power. It is also known as the Meeting Place of Continents or simply as The Rock.

While it is easy to think of Gibraltar as an island, in reality it isn’t. In the process of the world’s evolution, between the Ice Ages, the rising sea levels turned it into an island. The last time this occurred was roughly120 thousand years ago, when prehistoric man arrived. Ever since then Gibraltar has been a peninsula that is connected to the mainland by a thin isthmus, the piece of land that now makes up the airport runway.

Gibraltar was relinquished to Great Britain in a 1713 Treaty by Spain and the British fort was formally declared a colony in 1830. Spain has maintained an ongoing struggle to take over the territory which has been loyal to the British crown for over 300 years. The inside of The Rock makes for interesting exploration with its secret internal roads and tunnels that are four times longer than the ones on the surface. There is a strong military presence in Gibraltar this seemingly deserted region.

The people of Gibraltar are made up of immigrants from varying cultural backgrounds. The British takeover led to the exit of the original Spanish inhabitants which was taken over by Moroccan, Jews, Portuguese and Genoese. The colony experiences mild Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures ranging between 23 to 32°C and average winter temperatures of 13°C. Rains are mostly limited to the months between December and March and are typically in the form of heavy downpours. The months of April through September are typically sunny.

The economy of Gibraltar was heavily reliant on the Ministry of Defence’s spending until the 1980s when the cutbacks hit the area hard. In as little as ten years, the Ministry’s spending went from 60% of GDP to 9%. European Union funding helped develop the financial and tourist trades. Now the financial services industry makes up a major portion of the local economy with a variety of international banks providing offshore, local and private banking facilities.  The Rock is also an established port of call for cruise liners allowing crew changeovers and bunkering facilities. Additionally it is significant ship repairing destination.

 

Fast Facts:

Capital:   Gibraltar

Continent:   Europe

Government:   British Overseas Territory

Language:   English (official), Spanish, Llanito

Religion:   Christians, Muslims, and Jews

Area:   6.8 km²

Currencies:   UK Pound, Gibraltar pound

 

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