Gibraltar, located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, serves as a British overseas territory. It overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar and shares its northern border with Spain. Gibraltar is situated on the southern tip of Europe and forms the western entrance to the Mediterranean. Once an important base for the British Armed Forces, it now plays host to the Royal Navy. The territory derives it name from Jabal Târiq, an Arabic words that means ‘Mountain of Tariq’. Jabal Târiq refers to the Rock of Gibraltar, which was named after Tariq ibn-Ziyad, a Berber Umayyad General. In case you want to explore Gibraltar further, make use of the fun and interesting facts provided below.
Image: Scott Wylie@flickr
Fun & Interesting Facts about Gibraltar
- Gibraltar consists of a long limestone mountain, which has as may as 140 caves. Its highest point is at 426 m.
- Gibraltar was listed as the 5th most stable and prosperous British Territory, in a one-year investigation of 235 countries and territories by Jane’s Country Risk.
- The official language of Gibraltar is English and the unofficial one is Spanish.
- The main ethnic groups in Gibraltar are Gibraltarian (of mixed Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese and Andalusian descent), other British, Moroccan and Indian.
- Majority of people in Gibraltar are Roman Catholics.
- The currency of Gibraltar is Gibraltar Pound.
- Under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Spain ceded Gibraltar to Great Britain, in perpetuity. Spain and France laid siege to Gibraltar, during the American War of Independence (1775-1783), with the hope of getting it back.
- Spain has been asserting a claim to the territory of Gibraltar for long, seeking its return.
- Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountain of Jbel Musa are known as ‘The Pillars of Hercules’. This is because it is believed that Hercules used them as his handgrips, when he decided to pull Africa and Spain apart.
- The Strait of Gibraltar links the Mediterranean Sea with the North Atlantic Ocean.
- The evidence of human habitation in Gibraltar has been traced to as far back as Neanderthal man.
- It is believed that modern humans migrated to Gibraltar, from Africa, around one hundred thousand to seventy thousand years ago.
- Gibraltar was visited by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans, in the past.
- An Arab army, under the leadership of Tariq Ibn Ziyad, annexed Gibraltar in 711. It was then that it came to be known as Jebel Tariq - the Mountain of Tariq.
- In Gibraltar, the British monarch is Chief of State. He/she appoints a Governor and Commander-in-Chief, as local representatives.
- Gibraltar practices self-governance in all the areas, except defence and foreign policy.
- Gibraltarians i.e. the people of Gibraltar are British citizens and most of them want to stay that way.
- In 1967 and 2002, the people of Gibraltar voted to remain a British dependency.