The Big Picture

As a fortress and colony, Gibraltar has been a symbol of British military strength since the 1700s. Commonly referred to as the Rock, it is the site of a British air and naval base that guards the Strait of Gibraltar. This important waterway between Spain and Africa connects the Mediterranean Sea to the west with the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Gibraltar is a peninsula that is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) long and less than a mile wide. It consists of a limestone mountain that rises sharply to a height of 1,396 feet (426 meters). A low, sandy strip of land connects it to Spain, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the north. The Strait of Gibraltar is to the south. Across the strait is the African country of Morocco.

Shipping, banking, and tourism are major sources of income in Gibraltar. The British military post and naval shipyard are also important to the economy. The leading manufacturing industries are shipbuilding and ship repair. [from Britannica Encyclopedia]

Blast from the Past

Gibraltar was considered one of the Pillars of Hercules by the Greeks. The Pillars were the limits beyond which they dared not sail. The name Gibraltar is derived from the Arabic Jabal Tariq (Mount Tarik). Tarik, a Muslim, captured and fortified the peninsula in ad 711. It was retaken by Spain in 1462. Since 1704 it has been a symbol of British naval strength and, in that context, is known as “the Rock.”

During World War II Gibraltar was a naval base for the Allied forces and an air base for the invasion of Africa in 1942. Strained relations led Spain to close its road to Gibraltar from 1969 to 1985. This closing cut off land access, but access by sea and air remained undisturbed.

The status of Gibraltar has remained a source of friction between the Spanish and British governments. In a nonbinding referendum in 2002 recognized by neither government, 99 percent of Gibraltar’s voters rejected joint British-Spanish sovereignty. Gibraltar subsequently was allowed by both governments to represent itself in negotiations on its future. Population (2007 estimate) 29,257. [from Britannica Encyclopedia]


On your own for lunch? Try Gatsby's for a delicious meal!

Just want a coffee or small snack? Head for Sacarello's, a cafe in the former warehouse of and early 19th century merchant house.

Book Corner

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré:
Gibraltar, 2008.

A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain's most precious colony. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defence contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister's private secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.

Cornwall, UK, 2011.
A disgraced Special Forces soldier delivers a message from the dead. Was Operation Wildlife the success it was cracked up to be - or a human tragedy that was ruthlessly covered up?

Summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely observed by Kit's beautiful daughter, Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service.

If the only thing necessary to the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, how can he keep silent? [summary from Goodreads]

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Margaret and Hannah