Gibraltar is an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. This means it shares the British King or Queen and has the protection of the British Armed Forces. It is located in southwest Europe on the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of about 28,000 people, who are called Gibraltarians.
Gibraltar has always been important as a military base because this is where the Mediterranean Sea narrows to only 14 kilometres (9 miles) at the Strait of Gibraltar. This meant that whichever country controlled Gibraltar could see all ships that came into the Mediterranean Sea.
Gibraltar is most famous for The Rock of Gibraltar, a 426 meter high limestone rock rising out of the sea. The rock can be seen for many miles. It is home to the Barbary Apes, a type of tail-less monkey which are the only wild monkeys in Europe.
Gibraltar was named for a general who led the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. It belonged to Spain between the years 1501 and 1704, and it was captured by a group of Dutch and British marines during the War of the Spanish Succession (1704). In 1713, Spain signed papers called the Treaty of Utrecht. These papers said Gibraltar would be British permanently. However, according to this treaty, if the Crown of Great Britain ever wants to leave the territory, the Crown of Spain will have a prior position in order to claim the sovereignty.
Gibraltar was very important in World War II. Since it was in such a good position, it was the perfect place for the British army and navy to have its base. In World War II the people living in Gibraltar were taken to different parts of the world like Jamaica so they could be protected from the war and also leave the Rock for the soldiers. The Rock of Gibraltar was used by these soldiers, and long tunnels were made inside it. These tunnels even had a hospital and living areas for the soldiers.
Since 1704 when Spain lost Gibraltar, Spain began trying to get it back. They attacked the Rock several times in the 18th century. However, since the 1950s, Spain has tried get Gibraltar by diplomacy (international relations) by putting different kinds of pressure and restrictions on the people of Gibraltar.
In 2006 Gibraltar voted to approve a new constitution which gave full self government to the people meaning they can independently create their own laws.
Spain recently stopped interfering with Gibraltar telephone lines and daily flights to Madrid started.[source?]
- Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, chapter 16, second edition, Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books. ISBN 0-948466-14-6.