I was researching this topic for my wife’s primary school’s Commonwealth topic, and I thought I’d share:
- Gibraltar was captured by Britain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. It was then passed over to Britain by Spain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which ended the War.
- Spain still claims that Gibraltar should be returned, but the people of Gibraltar want to remain British. In a vote in 2002, 99% of Gibraltarians rejected closer links with Spain.
- During World War 2, the civilian population of Gibraltar was evacuated and The Rock was strengthened as a fortress.
- Gibraltar has its own Parliament, with just 17 members. The Head of the Government of Gibraltar is called the Chief Minister.
- Gibraltar is part of the European Union, but is exempt from some areas such as the Customs union and the Common Agricultural Policy. Since 2004, the people of Gibraltar have been allowed to vote in elections for the European Parliament as part of the constituency for South West England!
- In recent years, a combination of good regulation and low taxes has made Gibraltar “home to the world’s leading online gambling operators”. The Gambling Act 2005 was passed to make sure that online gambling based in Gibraltar could not be accessed by children, and did not attract fraud, money laundering or other criminal activities.
- There is a Church of Scotland in Gibraltar, called St. Andrew’s Church. It was set up in 1854 by Presbyterians serving in Scottish Army Regiments posted on Gibraltar.
- The Gibraltar Football Association was formed in 1895, making it one of the 10 oldest football associations in the world. The GFA has applied to join FIFA and UEFA, so that it could compete in the World Cup and other international competitions, but its application has been unsuccessful, following (political) objections from the Spanish FA.
- Legend has it that as long as Barbary Macaques live on Gibraltar, it will remain under British rule. In 1942 (during World War 2), when there were only seven monkeys left, the Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill ordered that more monkeys be added from forests in Morocco and Algeria. Today there are over 200 macaques. They are given a daily supply of fresh water and vegetables, fruit and seeds, as well as regular health checks. The monkeys each have a tattoo number and a micro-chip, so they can be identified.
- In 1988, the SAS shot dead three members of the terrorist group, the IRA in Gibraltar. Although the three had been planning to set off a car bomb during the changing of the guard, the SAS were criticised because they had not tried to arrest the suspects and had not given any warning before opening fire. The European Court of Human Rights later found that the United Kingdom had breached the right to life (Article 2 of the Convention) of the three suspects. [McCann & Others v. United Kingdom]
So, now you know.