In July 2013 it had a population of just under 30,000 Gibraltarians, representing an international mix of Spanish, Italian, English, Maltese, Portuguese, German and North African, with 75% of the population being Roman Catholic.
Formally, Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, with Queen Elizabeth II its head of state. She is represented by a governor, currently Sir James Dutton. UK laws apply. It has its own constitution, adopted by national referendum. Put into effect 2 January 2007, it replaced the previous constitution of 1969.
Gibraltar has a unicameral parliament with 17 members, whose head is the chief minister, currently The Honourable Fabian Picardo MP.
Gibraltar’s economy is strong, with 2012 GDP growth estimated at +7.8% and a stark comparison to most of Europe’s economic doldrums. The economy is 100% services based and made up of shipping and offshore banking. Tourism is also a major contributor. Unemployment is a low 3% (2006).
Gibraltar has a unique status within the EU. Gibraltar has been in the EU since 1973 as part of the UK’s membership (by virtue of Art 355 of TFEU). EU law is applicable in Gibraltar. Gibraltar transposes all EU Directives into local legislation and has the full benefit of EU membership.
However, its membership is distinct to that of the UK as Gibraltar is excluded from 4 areas of EU policy: Customs Union, Common Commercial Policy, Common Agriculture Policy, Common Fisheries Policy and requirement to levy VAT. Like the UK, Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen area.
For more information about HM Government of Gibraltar – www.gibraltar.gov.uk
History of Gibraltar
Gibraltar’s strategic importance has given it a long and turbulent history and an influence on world events out of all proportion to its size and population.
Its name is a legacy of the 8th century Arab invasion of mainland Spain, when the Moorish leader Tarik based his troop-ships there. The name is derived from Gibel (or Jebel) Tarik, meaning the mountain of Tarik. Although it was captured and held briefly by the Kingdom of Castile between 1309 and 1333, the Rock remained as a symbol of Moslem domination of the Western Mediterranean until finally regained by Spain in 1462. Britain captured the Rock in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. Its cession to Great Britain in perpetuity was confirmed by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, when it became a British possession.
Wide publicity has been given over many years to Spain’s claim to the Rock, the British possession of which it regards as prejudicing its territorial integrity. Despite its obligations under the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain has besieged the Rock on a number of occasions, the most notable being the Great Siege of 1779 to 1783. More recently, pressure has taken the form of a closure of the land frontier between 1969 and 1982. In response to this threat, the constitution granted in 1969 enshrines a commitment by the British Government, which has been frequently reaffirmed, never to cede the territory to Spain against the wishes of the population.