Gibraltar - Last Outpost of Britain's Empire


Gibraltar is a British territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula. The 30,000 inhabitants who live at the foot of "the Rock" are citizens of Great Britain, even though the Spanish have wanted the area back for over 300 years.

In 1704 the British and Dutch navy captured Gibraltar. A few years later the British took control of the area. It has served as a military base since then. The territory's citizens have been called to decide on their fate twice in the last 50 years. In both referendums they overwhelmingly voted to stay British. Today, Gibraltar governs itself, but many issues are the responsibility of the British Crown.

Gibraltar has been very important throughout major events in history. It has always been of vital strategic importance because whoever controls Gibraltar controls the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. During World War II its people left the land and the colony was turned into a fortress. In the second half of the 20th century the relationship between Spain and Britain deteriorated and for a short time the border between Spain and Gibraltar was closed. When Spain joined the EU in 1986 relationships started to become normal again.

Aerial view of Gibraltar

Gibraltar - aerial view - Steve - FlickrGibraltar


The Rock of Gibraltar is the country's only landmark.  It is made up of limestone and contains a network of tunnels and roads. Thousands of tourists come to visit the Rock every year.

A cable car brings you to the top of the mountain, from where you get a breathtaking view of the Strait of Gibraltar and see as far as the African coast, only a few miles away.

The Rock of Gibraltar has become a nature reserve, most animals and plants are protected by law. Apart from migrating birds that visit Gibraltar, it is famous for its small monkeys, or rock apes that live there.

Gibraltar's economy focuses on trade, shipping and tourism. In the past years it has become a major hub for online gaming services because of low taxes. Gibraltar also attracts cruise ships, that stop over for a day trip.

Related Topics


  • border =line between two countries
  • breathtaking = amazing, beautiful
  • capture = to take control of a place by using force
  • citizen = person who lives in a city or country and has rights there
  • deteriorate = to become weaker, worse
  • economy = the business and money system of a country; how a country buys and sells goods and services
  • entrance = gate, place where you get into or out of something
  • fate = the things that will happen to someone in the future
  • fortress = a large, strong building used for defending a place
  • hub = here: central place ; area where everything comes together
  • inhabitants = people who live in a place
  • issue = topic
  • join = to become a member of
  • landmark = sight; something that you can easily see, even from very far away
  • limestone = type of rock that contains calcium
  • located = situated
  • major = very important
  • Mediterranean Sea = sea between Europe and Africa 
  • migrate = to travel from one place to another during a certain time  of the year
  • nature reserve = place where plants and animals are protected by law
  • navy = the ships that fight for a country
  • overwhelmingly = by far, very much
  • peninsula = land that is surrounded by water on three sides
  • protect = guard
  • referendum = when people of a country vote on an issue or topic
  • serve = to have the task of
  • service = help or work that someone or a company gives you
  • tax = money that the government collects from everyone; it uses the money for general services
  • trade = to buy and sell things
  • throughout = in all of
  • vital = very important