A country refers to an area of land that is inhabited by people that have their own autonomous government. Essentially, this means that a politically defined region can have the powers of a self-government but will not qualify as a country if it does not have total independence. By definition, therefore, Gibraltar is not a country but a British Overseas Territory that lies at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, on the southwestern side of Europe. The territory has an area of about 2.6 square miles and a population of more than 30,000 people. Gibraltar shares a border with Spain to the north and with Morocco through a maritime border. The largest district in Gibraltar by population is Westside.
Governance of Gibraltar
Under the current law, Gibraltar has almost complete autonomy of its governance through its parliament, whose members serve a term of four years. The unicameral parliament has 17 elected members and is headed by the Speaker. The British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, represented the Governor of Gibraltar, is the head of state. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is appointed by parliament. Interestingly, Gibraltar is the only British territory that has membership in the European Union.
Economy of Gibraltar
Historically, the economy of Gibraltar was dominated by the British military through naval dockyards. However, this trend has reduced over the last twenty years, as the military now accounts for only 7% of the economy compared to 60% of 1984. Currently, the major economic sectors include financial services, shipping, tourism, and online gambling. The territory uses the Gibraltar pound as its currency, which is distributed by the Government of Gibraltar.
Gambling gained popularity due to favorable tax rules in the early 2000s for non-resident controlled firms. However, even after these favorable conditions were removed in 2011, they were replaced by another favorable tax rate of only 10%. As a tourist destination, Gibraltar is a famous port for ships. The famous Rock of Gibraltar, which is about 1,398 feet tall, is also a major tourist attraction.
Climate of Gibraltar
The climate in Gibraltar is mainly Mediterranean and is characterized by mild and wet winters, while summers are warm and dry. In some places, such as Tarifa and Algeciras, the annual temperatures are steadier overall and the summers are cooler, unlike other cities on the Iberian Peninsula’s southern coast. The average annual daytime temperature is about 72 °F, while the nighttime temperature averages about 59 °F. The coldest month is January, while August is the warmest month.
Demographics of Gibraltar
Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world. Most of the population are of European descent, especially from Britain (27%) and Spain (26%). Other populations groups in Gibraltar include Italian, Portuguese, French, Moroccan, and Maltese.
English is the official language, although most of the population can speak Spanish as well. The mixture of people ensures that there are several other languages such as Arabic, Berber, Hindi, Maltese, Portuguese, and others. A census in 2012 showed that about 72.1% of the population are Christians. Other religions include Islam (3.6%), Judaism (2.4%), and other minor religions.