1. International Driver's License
  2.  / 
  3. Blog
  4.  / 
  5. 10 Interesting Facts About Gibraltar
10 Interesting Facts About Gibraltar
April 28, 2024

10 Interesting Facts About Gibraltar

Quick facts about Gibraltar:

  • Population: Approximately 34,000 people.
  • Capital: Gibraltar.
  • Official Language: English.
  • Currency: Gibraltar Pound (GIP) pegged to the British Pound Sterling (GBP).
  • Government: British Overseas Territory with a parliamentary democracy.
  • Geography: Located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, bordered by Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar, known for its iconic limestone Rock of Gibraltar and strategic maritime position.

Fact 1: Gibraltar is a small UK territory near Spain

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by Spain and is connected to mainland Spain by a narrow isthmus. While Gibraltar is not technically an enclave, as it has coastline on one side facing the Strait of Gibraltar, it is often described as a “British enclave” due to its small size and unique political status.

Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713, following the Treaty of Utrecht. Despite being under British sovereignty, Gibraltar is largely self-governing, with its own government and legal system. However, the United Kingdom is responsible for defense and foreign affairs.

Gibraltar’s strategic location at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea has made it historically significant, and it remains an important military and naval base for the United Kingdom.

Fact 2: Gibraltar is the only UK territory where you drive on the right-hand side

Gibraltar is the only UK territory where driving is on the right-hand side. This unique occurrence occurred in 1929 when the British authorities decided to switch to right-hand driving. It is believed that this decision was made to align with Spain, which also drives on the right side of the road. This move also reduced the risk of accidents at the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Since then, Gibraltar has remained the only British territory with right-hand driving, while the rest of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories predominantly use left-hand driving.

If you are planning a visit to Gibraltar – check if you need an International Driver’s License to rent and drive a car.

Fact 3: The Gibraltar Museum has preserved the original baths of the Moors

The Moorish Baths date back to the medieval period when Gibraltar was under Moorish rule. They are believed to have been built around the 14th century and served as a communal bathing facility for the local population. The baths are constructed in the traditional Moorish style, featuring arched ceilings, intricate tile work, and a series of interconnected rooms for different bathing rituals.

Today, visitors to the Gibraltar Museum can explore the Moorish Baths as part of their museum experience. The baths provide insight into the rich multicultural history of Gibraltar and the influence of Moorish civilization on the Rock.

Gibmetal77, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fact 4: Gibraltar’s runway was built into the sea

Gibraltar’s airport, the Gibraltar International Airport, has a runway that was built into the sea. The airport’s runway, known as Winston Churchill Avenue, extends out into the Bay of Gibraltar. The construction of the runway involved reclaiming land from the sea using a combination of landfill and rock blasting techniques.

The unique location of the runway presents challenges and limitations for aircraft operations, particularly during strong crosswinds and adverse weather conditions. The proximity of the sea also requires special safety measures to prevent accidents and mitigate the risk of bird strikes.

Fact 5: Gibraltar is the only area in Europe inhabited by monkeys

Gibraltar is home to the only population of wild monkeys in Europe, known as the Barbary macaques or Barbary apes. These monkeys are native to North Africa and are considered an iconic symbol of Gibraltar. The Barbary macaques are believed to have been introduced to Gibraltar by the Moors or possibly earlier.

The monkeys roam freely in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, which encompasses the rocky cliffs and forested areas of Gibraltar’s Upper Rock. Visitors to Gibraltar often encounter the monkeys at popular tourist sites such as the Apes’ Den and the Great Siege Tunnels.

Fact 6: A lot of online casinos are registered in Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a popular jurisdiction for online gambling operators to register their businesses and obtain licenses. The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA) is responsible for regulating the online gambling industry in Gibraltar, and it offers licenses to operators who meet certain criteria and standards.

There are several reasons why many online casinos choose to register in Gibraltar. One key factor is Gibraltar’s favorable tax regime, which offers competitive tax rates for gambling operators. Additionally, Gibraltar has a well-established regulatory framework, a stable political environment, and a strong legal system, providing a reliable and trustworthy jurisdiction for online gambling businesses.

Fact 7: There are dozens of kilometers of tunnels in the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar contains an extensive network of tunnels, spanning dozens of kilometers in total length. These tunnels were excavated over centuries for various military and civilian purposes, making extensive use of the limestone rock formation of the Gibraltar Peninsula.

One of the most famous tunnel systems is the Great Siege Tunnels, which were carved out during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783) by British forces to defend against Spanish and French attacks. The Great Siege Tunnels are a popular tourist attraction today, offering visitors insights into the history and strategic significance of Gibraltar.

In addition to the Great Siege Tunnels, there are numerous other tunnels throughout the Rock of Gibraltar, including military fortifications, communication passages, and civilian infrastructure. The tunnels serve various functions, including defense, transportation, and utilities, reflecting the long and complex history of Gibraltar as a strategic stronghold.

Marshall Henrie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fact 8: Some of the last Neanderthals lived here

Gibraltar is known for being one of the last known habitats of Neanderthals. Excavations at sites such as Gorham’s Cave Complex have revealed evidence of Neanderthal occupation dating back tens of thousands of years.

Gorham’s Cave Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar, has yielded important archaeological discoveries, including Neanderthal tools, artifacts, and fossilized remains. These findings provide valuable insights into the behavior, lifestyle, and eventual extinction of Neanderthals.

Fact 9: Gibraltar has 6 beaches and some of them are man made

While the territory is known more for its rocky coastline than sandy beaches, efforts have been made to create artificial beaches for residents and tourists to enjoy.

One of the most notable man-made beaches in Gibraltar is Sandy Bay Beach, located on the eastern side of the Rock. Sandy Bay Beach was created by importing sand and constructing sea defenses to create a sheltered area for swimming and sunbathing.

In addition to Sandy Bay Beach, there are other beaches in Gibraltar, both natural and man-made, including Eastern Beach, Catalan Bay Beach, and Camp Bay Beach.

Mihael Grmek, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fact 10: One of the Hercules Pillars from the myths is believed to be located here

Gibraltar is often associated with the ancient Greek and Roman mythological figure Hercules and his legendary feats. One of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, as recounted in mythology, was the creation of the Pillars of Hercules, which marked the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar.

While there is no tangible evidence to support the existence of the Pillars of Hercules as physical structures, the Rock of Gibraltar itself is sometimes considered one of the Pillars of Hercules in mythological and historical contexts. The other pillar is believed to be the Jebel Musa mountain in Morocco, located across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Please type your email in the field below and click "Subscribe"
Subscribe and get full instructions about the obtaining and using of International Driving License, as well as advice for drivers abroad