Gibraltar () 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 and a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major 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 Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. 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, 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 T riq ( ), meaning "mountain of Tariq." It refers to the geological formation, the Rock of Gibraltar, which in turn was named after the Berber Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Moorish 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. Today, Gibraltar is colloquially referred to as Gib or the Rock.
View of the northern face of the Moorish Castle's Tower of Homage, Gibraltar's first permanent settlement, built around 711.
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. Seven centuries of Moorish control ended when Gibraltar was captured by the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1462 as part of the Spanish Reconquista.
After the conquest, King Henry IV assumed the title of King of Gibraltar, establishing it as part of the municipal area 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 C rdoba and Seville in exchange for maintaining the garrison of the town for two years, after which time the 4,350 Jews were expelled by the Duke as part of the Inquisition. In 1501 Gibraltar passed back to the hands of 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 1727 and during the 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 a 1967 referendum 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
Western, 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. Defence, foreign policy and internal security are formally the responsibility of the Governor; judicial and other appointments are also 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 and 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, from 2004, the people of Gibraltar participated in elections for the European Parliament as part of the South West England constituency.
Westside]] and the town area, 2006.
The territory covers and shares a land border with Spain. On the Spanish side lies the town of La L nea de la Concepci n, a municipality of the province of C diz. The Spanish hinterland forms the comarca of Campo de Gibraltar (literally Gibraltar Countryside). The shoreline measures 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 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 (K ppen 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 during the day and at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature ranges from during the day and at night, the average sea temperature is . In the warmest month, August, the typically temperature ranges from during the day, above at night, the average sea temperature is .
Flora and fauna
Gibraltar candytuft]] growing at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.
Over 500 different species of flowering plants grow on the Rock. One of them, the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberis gibraltarica), is endemic to Gibraltar, being the only place in Europe where it is found growing in the wild. It is the symbol of the Upper Rock nature reserve. Among the wild trees that grow all around the Rock, olive and pine trees are some of the most common.
Most of the Rock's upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 230 Barbary Macaques (commonly confused with apes), 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, MEP for Gibraltar, highlighted conservationists' fears that urban development, tourism and invasive plant species were threatening Gibraltar's own plants as well as birds and bat species.
Barbary Macaques]] form an integral part of Tourism in Gibraltar.
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, district of exclusive residential and a marina. 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 Cr dit 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.
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. Most retail outlets in Gibraltar unofficially 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. Cathedral of the Holy Trinity]] is the larger of the two cathedrals in Gibraltar. King Fahd]] of Saudi Arabia.
Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world, with a population estimated in 2008 of 29,286, equivalent to approximately . 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.
One of the main features of Gibraltar s population is the diversity of their ethnic origins. The demographics of Gibraltar reflects Gibraltarians' racial and cultural fusion of 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 (26%, mostly Andalusians but also some 2% of Minorcans), Genoese and other Italians (19%), Portuguese (11%), 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 (), a vernacular unique to Gibraltar. It is based on Andalusian Spanish with a strong admixture of British English and some contribution from languages such as Maltese, Portuguese, Italian of the Genoese variety and Haketia (Ladino): for example there are over 500 words of Genoese and Hebrew origin in Llanito. It also often involves code-switching to English.
Gibraltarians often also 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.
The third religion in size is Islam (4.0% of the population. There is also an established Hindu population (1.8%), members of the Bah ' Faith and a long-established Jewish community, which, at 584 persons, accounts for 2.1% of the population.
England]]. Education in Gibraltar generally follows the English system operating within a three tier system. Schools in Gibraltar follow the Key Stage system which teaches 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 must study elsewhere at degree level or equivalent and certain non-degree courses, many in the UK. The Government of Gibraltar operates a scholarship/grant system to provide funding for students studying in the United Kingdom. All Gibraltarian students followed the student loans procedure of the UK, where they applied 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.
All Gibraltarians are entitled to free 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. Patients requiring medical treatment not available on the Rock receive it as private patients paid for by the Government of Gibraltar either in the United Kingdom, or more recently in Spain.
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.
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.
There exists a small amount of literary writings by native Gibraltarians. The first work of fiction was probably H ctor Licudi's 1929 novel Barbarita, written in Spanish. It is a largely autobiographical account of the 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 p 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 academic M. G. Sanchez, author of the novel Rock Black 0 10: A Gibraltar fiction (2006).
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 among many others.
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 the most 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 recently won the European Cricket Championship. 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) were the most successful team for Gibraltar 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. Heloise 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 (full member of World Darts Federation since 1977) running leagues & other regular tournaments. In 2010 Gibraltar hosted the Mediterranean Cup and won Gold, competing against France, Italy, Turkey, Malta & Cyprus.
A plaque in City Mill Lane marking the site of Gibraltar's first telephone exchange. Main Street]] in 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 C rdoba 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 has announced that they will fly from East Midlands Airport to the Rock as from March 2012, opening an airlink to the Midlands.
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 who 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 ndalus L neas A reas 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. Gibraltar Airport, main highway. 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 on occasion pedestrians, crossing the border with Spain have been subjected to long delays and searches by the Spanish authorities. Spain has 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 Pira a were arrested for illegal fishing in Gibraltar waters.
The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is M laga Airport in Spain, some to the east, which offers a wide range of destinations, second to Jerez Airport which is closer to Gibraltar.
Gibraltar receives a large number of visits from cruise ships, and the Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Passenger and cargo ships anchor in the Port of Gibraltar. Also, a daily 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.
The closest train station is San Roque station.
Royal Gibraltar Police, Marine Section The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) is, along with the Gibraltar Customs, the principal civilian law enforcement agency in Gibraltar. It is the oldest police force in the Commonwealth of Nations outside the United Kingdom, having being formed when Gibraltar was declared a crown colony on 25 June 1830, shortly after the creation of London's Metropolitan Police in 1829.
In general the Gibraltar force follows British police models in its dress and notably male constables and sergeants on foot patrol wear the traditional headgear of the British "bobby on the beat", correctly known as the custodian helmet. 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, who are divided into a number of units. These include CID, Drug Squad, Special Branch, Firearms Unit, Scene of Crime Examiners, Traffic Department, Marine Section, and Operations Division.
The current headquarters is at New Mole House Police Station, Rosia Road.
Royal Navy 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 but the British Army placed it on the permanent establishment 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.
The Rock is believed to be a SIGINT listening post. Its strategic position provides a key GCHQ and National Security Agency location for Mediterranean and North African coverage.
Gibraltar is currently twinned with Funchal, Madeira (2009); and Ballymena, Northern Ireland (2006), and was once twinned with Goole, England.
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