Flag of Gibraltar

map (opens in new window)


Strategically important, Gibraltar was ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. In referendums held in 1967 and 2002, Gibraltarians ignored Spanish pressure and voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency.


Southwestern Europe, bordering the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern coast of Spain

Geographic coordinates:

36 8 N, 5 21 W


total: 6.5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 6.5 sq km


Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers


a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Rock of Gibraltar 426 m

Environment - current issues:

limited natural freshwater resources: large concrete or natural rock water catchments collect rainwater (no longer used for drinking water) and adequate desalination plant

Geography - note:

strategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea


27,833 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

Spanish, Italian, English, Maltese, Portuguese


Roman Catholic 76.9%, Church of England 6.9%, Muslim 6.9%, Jewish 2.3%, none or other 7% (1991)


English (used in schools and for official purposes), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese

Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK



National holiday:

National Day, 10 September (1967); note - day of the national referendum to decide whether to remain with the UK or go with Spain

Legal system:

English law

Economy - overview:

Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. The financial sector, tourism (almost 5 million visitors in 1998), shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, the shipping sector, and tourism each contribute 25%-30% of GDP. Telecommunications accounts for another 10%. In recent years, Gibraltar has seen major structural change from a public to a private sector economy, but changes in government spending still have a major impact on the level of employment.

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.5% (1998)

Labor force:

14,800 (including non-Gibraltar laborers) (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture negligible, industry 40%, services 60%

Unemployment rate:

2% (2001 est.)


revenues: $307 million
expenditures: $284 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY00/01 est.)


tourism, banking and finance, ship repairing, tobacco

Exports - commodities:

(principally reexports) petroleum 51%, manufactured goods 41%, other 8%

Exports - partners:

Germany 23.4%, France 22.7%, Switzerland 16.5%, UK 13.1%, Turkmenistan 8.6%, Spain 5.2% (2003 est.)

Imports - commodities:

fuels, manufactured goods, and foodstuffs

Imports - partners:

Spain 27.9%, UK 15.6%, Russia 8.6%, Italy 6.9%, Netherlands 6.8%, France 5.6%, Germany 4.8%, Japan 4.1% (2003 est.)


Gibraltar pound (GIP)

Telephones - main lines in use:

24,512 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

9,797 (2002)


total: 29 km
paved: 29 km
unpaved: 0 km (2002)

Ports and harbors:


Merchant marine:

total: 133 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 980,636 GRT/1,254,661 DWT
by type: bulk 3, cargo 69, chemical tanker 14, container 27, multi-functional large load carrier 3, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 13, roll on/roll off 2
registered in other countries: 4 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Belgium 1, Cyprus 3, Denmark 1, Estonia 1, France 1, Germany 92, Greece 11, Hong Kong 2, Iceland 1, Monaco 4, Norway 6, Spain 1, United Kingdom 6, United States 2


1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Military branches:

Royal Gibraltar Regiment

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the UK; the last British regular infantry forces left Gibraltar in 1992, replaced by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment

Disputes - international:

since Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum in 2003 against a "total shared sovereignty" arrangement, talks between the UK and Spain over the fate of the 300-year-old UK colony have stalled; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy