|Gibraltar, at background is the Rock of Gibraltar|
There is a place where brass bands play, warm beer is served and a blue lamp marks the police station, and that is Gibraltar. This corner of a foreign land, a British Overseas Territorylocated on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean, is a gnarled limestone rock, nearly 4 miles long and 1400 feet high, tucked into Spain’s lower region Province of Cadiz in Andalucia, like a prostate, dominating the dozen miles of ocean that separate Europe from Africa. At its foot is a densely populated city area, home to almost 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.
The name Gibraltar is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq, meaning "Mountain of Tariq". It refers to the Rock of Gibraltar, which was named after the Umayyadgeneral Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Umayyad forcein 711 under the command of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. Earlier, it was known as Mons Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules.
|Map of Spain and Morocco|
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.
An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly 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 defense and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the UK Government.
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. The governor enacts day-to-day matters on the advice of the Gibraltar Parliament, but is responsible to the British Government in respect of defense, foreign policy, internal security and general good governance. Judicial and other appointments are made on behalf of the Queen in consultation with the head of the elected government.
At the highest point of the Rock of Gibraltar, where a sheer cliff face plunges 1400 feet into the Mediterranean, there is a gun emplacement called O’Hara’s Battery capable of lobbing artillery shells from Europe into Africa. From up there, the confrontation of the continents is quite a sight to behold. The two land masses don’t just meet, they rise to the occasion. The white cliffs of Gibraltar facing up to the serrated black crest of Jebel Musa on the Moroccan shore. The Greeks and Romans were aware of the symmetry and called the twin peaks the Pillars of Hercules, the end of the known world, beyond which lay outer darkness.
|Gibraltar Cable Car|
Within Gibraltar, the main form of transport is the car. Motorcycles 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.
Gibraltar maintains regular flight connections to London and Manchester. In 2007 GB Airways was purchased by EasyJet which began operating flights under their name in April 2008 when British Airways re-introduced flights to Gibraltar under their name. Gibraltar Airport is consistently listed as one of the world's scariest for air passengers. It is exposed to strong cross winds around the rock and across the Bay of Algeciras, making landings in winter particularly uncomfortable.
The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is Málaga Airport in Spain, some 120 kilometres to the east, which offers a wide range of destinations, second to Jerez Airport which is closer to Gibraltar. In addition, the Algeciras Heliport across the bay offers scheduled services to Ceuta. Gibraltar receives a large number of visits from cruise ships. The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Also, a 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 December 16, 2009, served by the Spanish company Transcoma.Whilst railway track extends to the outskirts of La Linea, the closest train station in Spain is San Roque station, accessible via buses from La Línea. Ferries by FRS running twice a week from Gibraltar to Tanger-Med port provide access to the Moroccan railway system.
|Marina 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). 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.
|Gibraltar by the Sea|
- Sunborn Gibraltar. Ocean Village Promenade. A bit on the pricey side; the rooms are as expected for a 5 star hotel and the view of the marina and airport added to the enjoyment. (Php14,667 and up)
- O’Callaghan Eliot Hotel. 2 Governors Parade. The hotel is in a good location to access the hospital. It is clean and comfortable. The BBQ night on Friday is excellent, and the food delicious. (Php7,999 and up)
- Caleta Hotel. Sir Herbert Miles Road. Rooms are great, very clean and spacious, with a big bathroom and lovely little balcony. Staff are friendly and helpful. (Php9,540)
- AC Hotel La Linea. La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain. The room is good and clean. Staffs are very friendly and helpful. Very good breakfast, descent but overpriced, dinner. The position of the hotel is quite good, near the beach and it requires at least 15 to 20 minutes walk to go to the Center. (Php3,785)
- Holiday Inn Express Campo de Gibraltar. Los Barrios, Spain. This hotel is a very cost effective and logistical way to balance arrival from Malaga and then visit Gibraltar and Morocco. Take a ferry 20 minutes away to Tanger Morocco for the day. Friendly and helpful front desk staff and free breakfast are added features. Also free parking and easy access to the highway. (Php2,621)