Gibraltar, a British dependency on the southern coast of Spain. It consists of a town and fortress on and adjoining the Rock of Gibraltar, a mountainous promontory. Gibraltar is bounded on the north by Spain, on the east by the Mediterranean Sea, on the south by the Strait of Gibraltar, and on the west by the Bay of Algeciras. The mainland of Africa is 15 miles (24 km) to the south. The area is 2.3 square miles (6 km 2 ).
As a fortress and naval and air base. Gibraltar commands the western entrance to the Mediterranean. The Rock of Gibraltar rises steeply to 1,400 feet (427 m) above sea level. Because of the steepness of its faces, it is virtually inaccessible from the north, south, and east. The town of Gibraltar and the harbor are on the western side, protected by forts and shore batteries.
Gibraltar is a duty-free port and receives transit shipping. There is little industry Tourism is an important source of income. Gibraltar's governor, appointed by the crown, rules with the help of an executive and a legislative council.
The ancient Greeks knew Gibraltar as one of the Pillars of Hercules. In 711 A.D. a Moorish chief, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, landed here when he invaded Spain. The rock was named jabal tariq (Mount Tariq), from which derives its present name. Gibraltar was retaken permanently by the Christians in 1462. The British captured it in 1704, and it was ceded by Spain in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Gibraltar withstood many later attacks, and was of great value to the British in both World Wars. In 1964, Spain began exerting pressure on Great Britain to return Gibraltar. In 1967, the people of Gibraltar voted in a referendum to remain British. Spain did not accept the result, and in 1969 closed its border with Gibraltar. In 1982 the border was partially opened, permitting limited travel to and from Spain. The border was fully opened to trade and unrestricted travel in 1985.