Capital: Gibraltar Government: Monarchy (UK) Population: 32,194 (2016) Currency: Gibraltar pound Continent: Europe Official language: English Area: 6.8 km2
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain's south coast. It’s dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the outpost was ceded to the British in 1713. Layers of fortifications include the remains of a 14th-century Moorish Castle and the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, which were expanded in WWII.
Red pillar boxes, fish-and-chip shops and creaky 1970s seaside hotels: Gibraltar – as British writer Laurie Lee once commented – is a piece of Portsmouth sliced off and towed 500 miles south. As with many colonial outposts, ‘the Rock’ overstates its Britishness, a bonus for pub-grub and afternoon-tea lovers, but a confusing double-take for modern Brits who thought their country had moved on since the days of Lord Nelson memorabilia.
Poised strategically at the jaws of Europe and Africa, Gibraltar, with its Palladian architecture and camera-hogging Barbary macaques, makes for an interesting break from Cádiz province's white towns and tapas. Playing an admirable supporting role is the swashbuckling local history; lest we forget, the Rock has been British longer than the United States has been American. This towering 5km-long limestone ridge rises to 426m, with dramatic cliffs on its northern and eastern sides. Gibraltarians speak English, Spanish, and a curiously accented, sing-song mix of the two, swapping back and forth midsentence. Signs are in English.