Strategically important, Gibraltar was reluctantly ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. In a referendum held in 1967, Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. The subsequent granting of autonomy in 1969 by the UK led to Spain closing the border and severing all communication links. A series of talks were held by the UK and Spain between 1997 and 2002 on establishing temporary joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. In response to these talks, the Gibraltar Government called a referendum in late 2002 in which the majority of citizens voted overwhelmingly against any sharing of sovereignty with Spain.


Since the referendum, tripartite talks on other issues have been held with Spain, the UK, and Gibraltar, and in September 2006 a three-way agreement was signed. Spain agreed to remove restrictions on air movements, to speed up customs procedures, to implement international telephone dialing, and to allow mobile roaming agreements. Britain agreed to pay increased pensions to Spaniards who had been employed in Gibraltar before the border closed. Spain will be allowed to open a cultural institute from which the Spanish flag will fly. A new noncolonial constitution came into effect in 2007, but the UK retains responsibility for defense, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability.


Location: South-western 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 08 N, 5 21 W
Population:  29,034 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  20.4% (male 3,040/female 2,862)

15-64 years: 65.8% (male 9,607/female 9,451)

65 years and over: 13.8% (male 1,934/female 2,062) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 33.6 years

male: 32.7 years

female: 34.6 years (2012 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Gibraltar

Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Gibraltar

geographic coordinates: 36 08 N, 5 21 W

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Telephones – main lines in use: 24,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 30,000 (2009)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Roadways: total: 29 km

paved: 29 km (2002)

Military branches: Royal Gibraltar Regiment(2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 7,037 (2010 est.)


Self-sufficient Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference centre. 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.

Transnational Issues:

In 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any “shared sovereignty” arrangement; the government of Gibraltar insists on equal participation in talks between the UK and Spain; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar even greater autonomy