Photos of Gibraltar

Introduction

Background

Strategically 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 Spain to close the border and sever all communication links. Between 1997 and 2002, the UK and Spain held a series of talks 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 late 2004, Spain, the UK, and Gibraltar have held tripartite talks with the aim of cooperatively resolving problems that affect the local population, and work continues on cooperation agreements in areas such as taxation and financial services; communications and maritime security; policy, legal and customs services; environmental protection; and education and visa services. A new noncolonial constitution came into force in 2007, and the European Court of First Instance recognized Gibraltar's right to regulate its own tax regime in December 2008. The UK retains responsibility for defense, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability.

Spain and the UK continue to spar over the territory. Throughout 2009, a dispute over Gibraltar's claim to territorial waters extending out three miles gave rise to periodic non-violent maritime confrontations between Spanish and UK naval patrols and in 2013, the British reported a record number of entries by Spanish vessels into waters claimed by Gibraltar following a dispute over Gibraltar's creation of an artificial reef in those waters. Spain renewed its demands for an eventual return of Gibraltar to Spanish control after the UK’s June 2016 vote to leave the EU, but London has dismissed any connection between the vote and its continued sovereignty over Gibraltar. The EU has said that Gibraltar will be ouside the territorial scope of any future UK-EU trade deal and that separate agreements between the EU and UK regarding Gibraltar would require Spain's prior approval.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southwestern Europe, bordering the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern coast of Spain

Geographic coordinates

36 08 N, 5 21 W

Area

total: 7 sq km

land: 6.5 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 244

Area - comparative

more than 10 times the size of The National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Land boundaries

total: 1.2 km

border countries (1): Spain 1.2 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm

Climate

Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers

Terrain

a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar

Elevation

highest point: Rock of Gibraltar 426 m

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Natural hazards

occasional droughts; no streams or large bodies of water on the peninsula (all potable water comes from desalination)

Geography - note

note 1: strategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

note 2: one of only two British territories where traffic drives on the right, the other being the island of Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Gibraltarian(s)

adjective: Gibraltar

Ethnic groups

Gibraltarian 79%, other British 13.2%, Spanish 2.1%, Moroccan 1.6%, other EU 2.4%, other 1.6% (2012 est.)

note: data represent population by nationality

Languages

English (used in schools and for official purposes), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese

Religions

Roman Catholic 72.1%, Church of England 7.7%, other Christian 3.8%, Muslim 3.6%, Jewish 2.4%, Hindu 2%, other 1.1%, none 7.1%, unspecified 0.1% (2012 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.24% (male 3,080/female 2,907)

15-24 years: 13.07% (male 2,000/female 1,866)

25-54 years: 41.28% (male 6,289/female 5,922)

55-64 years: 8.71% (male 1,082/female 1,495)

65 years and over: 16.7% (male 2,378/female 2,562) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 35.5 years

male: 34.4 years

female: 36.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 84

Birth rate

13.99 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

Death rate

8.81 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

Net migration rate

-3.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.45% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

35,000 GIBRALTAR (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.72 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.38 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 170

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.2 years

male: 77.34 years

female: 83.2 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 50

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017)

Environment

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources: more than 90% of drinking water supplied by desalination, the remainder from stored rainwater; a separate supply of saltwater used for sanitary services

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.63 megatons (2016 est.)

Climate

Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.45% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 16,954 tons (2012 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Gibraltar

etymology: from the Spanish derivation of the Arabic "Jabal Tariq," which means "Mountain of Tariq" and which refers to the Rock of Gibraltar

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Parliament); self-governing overseas territory of the UK

Capital

name: Gibraltar

geographic coordinates: 36 08 N, 5 21 W

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: from the Spanish derivation of the Arabic "Jabal Tariq," which means "Mountain of Tariq" and which refers to the Rock of Gibraltar

Administrative divisions

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Independence

none (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 join Spain

Constitution

history: previous 1969; latest passed by referendum 30 November 2006, entered into effect 14 December 2006, entered into force 2 January 2007

amendments: proposed by Parliament and requires prior consent of the British monarch (through the Secretary of State); passage requires at least three-fourths majority vote in Parliament followed by simple majority vote in a referendum; note – only sections 1 through 15 in Chapter 1 (Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) can be amended by Parliament

Legal system

the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply

Citizenship

see United Kingdom

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal; and British citizens with six months residence or more

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Sir David STEEL (since 11 June 2020)

head of government: Chief Minister Fabian PICARDO (since 9 December 2011)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed from among the 17 elected members of Parliament by the governor in consultation with the chief minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed chief minister by the governor

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (18 seats; 17 members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by majority vote and 1 appointed by Parliament as speaker; members serve 4-year terms) (e.g. 2019)

elections: last held on 17 October 2019 (next to be held in 2023) (e.g. 2019)

election results: percent of vote by party - GSLP-Liberal Alliance 52.5% (GSLP 37.0%, LPG 15.5%), GSD 25.6%; seats by party - GSLP-Liberal Alliance 10 (GSLP 7, LPG 3), GSD 6; composition of elected members - men 15, women 2, percent of women 11.8% (e.g. 2019)

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Appeal (consists of at least 3 judges, including the court president); Supreme Court of Gibraltar (consists of the chief justice and 3 judges); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judges appointed by the governor upon the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, a 7-member body of judges and appointees of the governor; tenure of the Court of Appeal president based on terms of appointment; Supreme Court chief justice and judges normally appointed until retirement at age 67 but tenure can be extended 3 years

subordinate courts: Court of First Instance; Magistrates' Court; specialized tribunals for issues relating to social security, taxes, and employment

Political parties and leaders

Gibraltar Liberal Party or Liberal Party of Gibraltar or LPG [Joseph GARCIA]
Gibraltar Social Democrats or GSD [Keith AZOPARDI]
Gibraltar Socialist Labor Party or GSLP [Fabian PICARDO]
GSLP-Liberal Alliance (includes GSLP and LPG)
Together Gibraltar or TG [Marlene HASSAN-NAHON]

International organization participation

ICC (NGOs), Interpol (subbureau), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description

two horizontal bands of white (top, double width) and red with a three-towered red castle in the center of the white band; hanging from the castle gate is a gold key centered in the red band; the design is that of Gibraltar's coat of arms granted on 10 July 1502 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain; the castle symbolizes Gibraltar as a fortress, while the key represents Gibraltar's strategic importance - the key to the Mediterranean

National symbol(s)

Barbary macaque; national colors: red, white, yellow

National anthem

name: Gibraltar Anthem

lyrics/music: Peter EMBERLEY

note: adopted 1994; serves as a local anthem; as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

Self-sufficient Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. Tax rates are low to attract foreign investment. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. 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.

The financial sector, tourism (over 11 million visitors in 2012), gaming revenues, shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, tourism, and the shipping sector contribute 30%, 30%, and 25%, respectively, of GDP. Telecommunications, e-commerce, and e-gaming account for the remaining 15%.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.044 billion (2014 est.)

$1.85 billion (2013 est.)

$2 billion (2012 est.)

note: data are in 2014 dollars

country comparison to the world: 197

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.044 billion (2014 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$61,700 (2014 est.)

$43,000 (2008 est.)

$41,200 (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0% (2016 est.)

industry: 0% (2008 est.)

services: 100% (2016 est.)

Industries

tourism, banking and finance, ship repairing, tobacco

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NEGL

industry: 1.8%

services: 98.2% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 475.8 million (2008 est.)

expenditures: 452.3 million (2008 est.)

Public debt

7.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

8.4% of GDP (2006 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Exports

$202.3 million (2014 est.)

$271 million (2004 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Exports - partners

Poland 31%, Netherlands 27%, France 11%, Germany 8%, United States 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

cars, ships, refined petroleum, fish, recreational boats (2019)

Imports - partners

Spain 19%, US 12%, India 12%, Italy 12%, Netherlands 11%, United Kingdom 7%, Greece 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, recreational boats, cars, coal tar oil, crude petroleum (2019)

Exchange rates

Gibraltar pounds (GIP) per US dollar -

0.885 (2017 est.)

0.903 (2016 est.)

0.9214 (2015 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 16,968

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 57.71 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 40,537

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 137.88 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Gibraltar’s population is urban based, served by a digital telephone exchange supported by a fiber optic and copper infrastructure; near universal mobile and Internet use (2020) (2018)

domestic: automatic exchange facilities; 50 per 100 fixed-line and 120 per 100 mobile-cellular (2019)

international: country code - 350; landing point for the EIG to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East via submarine cables; radiotelephone; microwave radio relay; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) provides TV and radio broadcasting services via 1 TV station and 4 radio stations; British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) operates 1 radio station; broadcasts from Spanish radio and TV stations are accessible

Internet users

total: 27,823

percent of population: 94.44% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 19,497

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 66.32 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)

Roadways

total: 29 km (2007)

paved: 29 km (2007)

country comparison to the world: 220

Merchant marine

total: 217

by type: bulk carrier 8, container ship 24, general cargo 64, oil tanker 21, other 100 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 66

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gibraltar

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Royal Gibraltar Regiment (2021)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK (2021)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

in 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any "shared sovereignty" arrangement; the Government of Gibraltar insists on equal participation in talks between the UK and Spain; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar even greater autonomy