Facts about Gibraltar

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Rock of GibraltarStrategically important, Gibraltar was reluctantly ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. In a referendum held in 1967, Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. The subsequent granting of autonomy in 1969 by the UK led to Spain closing the border and severing all communication links. A series of talks were held by the UK and Spain between 1997 and 2002 on establishing temporary joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. In response to these talks, the Gibraltar Government called a referendum in late 2002 in which the majority of citizens voted overwhelmingly against any sharing of sovereignty with Spain. Since the referendum, tripartite talks on other issues have been held with Spain, the UK, and Gibraltar, and in September 2006 a three-way agreement was signed. Spain agreed to remove restrictions on air movements, to speed up customs procedures, to implement international telephone dialing, and to allow mobile roaming agreements. Britain agreed to pay increased pensions to Spaniards who had been employed in Gibraltar before the border closed. Spain will be allowed to open a cultural institute from which the Spanish flag will fly. A new noncolonial constitution came into effect in 2007, but the UK retains responsibility for defense, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability.

Geography of Gibraltar

Southwestern Europe, bordering the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern coast of Spain
36 8 N, 5 21 W
total: 6.5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 6.5 sq km
Area comparative:
about 11 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
total: 1.2 km
border countries: Spain 1.2 km
12 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 3 NM
Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers
a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Rock of Gibraltar 426 m
Natural resources:
Environment current issues:
limited natural freshwater resources: large concrete or natural rock water catchments collect rainwater (no longer used for drinking water) and adequate desalination plant
Geography - note:
strategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

Population of Gibraltar

28,002 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.5% (male 2,499/female 2,388)
15-64 years: 66% (male 9,443/female 8,999)
65 years and over: 16.5% (male 2,059/female 2,540)
Median age:
39.8 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
5.06 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.8 years
male: 76.92 years
female: 82.83 years
Fertility rate:
1.65 children born/woman
noun: Gibraltarian(s)
adjective: Gibraltar
Ethnic groups:
Spanish, Italian, English, Maltese, Portuguese
Roman Catholic 78.1%, Church of England 7%, other Christian 3.2%, Muslim 4%, Jewish 2.1%, Hindu 1.8%, other or unspecified 0.9%, none 2.9%
English (used in schools and for official purposes), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
above 80%


Dependency status:
overseas territory of the UK
National holiday:
National Day, 10 September (1967); note - day of the national referendum to decide whether to remain with the UK or go with Spain
30 May 1969
Legal system:
English law
18 years of age; universal, plus other UK subjects who have been residents six months or more
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Sir Robert FULTON (since 27 October 2006)
head of government: Chief Minister Peter CARUANA (since 17 May 1996)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed from among the 17 elected members of the Parliament by the governor in consultation with the chief minister
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed chief minister by the governor.
Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Assembly (18 seats - 15 elected by popular vote, one appointed for the Speaker, and two ex officio members; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 November 2003 (next to be held not later than NA 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - GSD 58%, GSLP 41%; seats by party - GSD 8, GSLP 7
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Court of Appeal


Self-sufficient Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. The financial sector, tourism (almost 5 million visitors in 1998), shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, the shipping sector, and tourism each contribute 25%-30% of GDP. Telecommunications accounts for another 10%. In recent years, Gibraltar has seen major structural change from a public to a private sector economy, but changes in government spending still have a major impact on the level of employment.

$1.066 billion (2005 est.)
GDP per capita:
Inflation rate:
1.5% (1998)
Labor force:
14,800 (including non-Gibraltar laborers)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 60%, industry 40%, agriculture NEGL%
2% (2001 est.)
revenues: $307 million
expenditures: $284 million, including capital expenditures
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
tourism, banking and finance, ship repairing, tobacco
(principally reexports) petroleum 51%, manufactured goods 41%, other 8%
Export partners:
UK 25.3%, Spain 22.3%, Germany 14.6%, Turkmenistan 10.7%, Switzerland 9.4%, Italy 6.4% 
fuels, manufactured goods, and foodstuffs
Import partners:
Spain 22.4%, Russia 12.1%, Italy 11.3%, UK 8.7%, France 8.6%, Netherlands 6.6%, US 4.5%
Gibraltar pound (GIP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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