Thursday, March 2, 2017


Gibraltar, also known as the Rock, is a British Overseas Territory on the Iberian Peninsula.  While it is physically connected to Spain, it is a part of the United Kingdom.  Gibraltarians (Gibs) hold UK passports.

Gibraltar is small.  It is only 6,7 km² (2.6 sq mi) which is more than 10 times the size of The National Mall in Washington, D.C.  However, it is densely populated as it is home to 30,000 people.

Phoenicians inhabited the area around 950 BC.  Over time it has been held by the Carthaginians, Romans, and Vandals.

In 1704, Gibraltar was captured from the Spanish during the War of the Spanish Succession.  In 1713, the territory was given to the UK in perpetuity.  Spanish monarchs have unsuccessfully attempted to regain the territory.

Strategically it is quite important because it's only 13 km (8 miles) to Africa, which means from Gibraltar the British Navy can control entry and exit to the Mediterranean Sea.  Today, almost half the world's seaborne trade passes through the strait.

Gibraltar has its own money, sort of.  It issues Pound Sterling coins and banknotes, like Scotland and Northern Ireland do.  It's easiest to just use £ Sterling as it may not be accepted back in the UK.

English is the official language but most people speak Spanish.  Many people also speak Llanito which is a mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English, plus bits of Maltese, Portuguese, Genoese Italian and others.  When people speak it they flip back and forth mid-sentence.  This is where the term "gibberish" comes from.  Here are a few examples but where I grew up in California we call this Spanglish.

Gibraltar is the only British Overseas Territory that is part of the EU which is a problem now.  Gibraltar voted overwhelming to stay in the EU so Spain may use Brexit as a way to get back control.  Although time and again, the people remain fiercely loyal to the UK.

Here's a video I found on YouTube that helps share some more insight.


Later this month I'll be in Málaga for a week's holiday and we've already booked a day trip to Gibraltar.  Here's a Rick Steven video I found that highlights more of the touristy stuff.

©Rick Steves

No comments:

Post a Comment