Gibraltar ( jib-RAWL-tər, Spanish: [xiβɾalˈtaɾ]; Arabic: جبل طارق, romanized: Jabal Ṭāriq, lit. 'Mount of Tariq') is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.
In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is only 8 miles (13 km) wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services and cargo ship refuelling.
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The military history of Gibraltar during World War II exemplifies Gibraltar's position as a British fortress since the early 18th century and as a vital factor in British military strategy, both as a foothold on the continent of Europe, and as a bastion of British sea power. During World War II, Gibraltar served a vital role in the Mediterranean Theatre, controlling virtually all naval traffic into and out of the Mediterranean Sea from the west.
Inside the Rock of Gibraltar itself, miles of tunnels were excavated from the limestone. Masses of rock were blasted out to build an "underground city". In huge man-made caverns, barracks, offices, and a fully equipped hospital were constructed, complete with an operating theatre and x-ray equipment.
Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa in November 1942, was coordinated from the "Rock". General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was given command of the operation, set up his headquarters in Gibraltar during the planning phases of the operation. (more...)
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« Did you know... »
- ... that Dorothy Ellicott was the first woman to be elected to two different Gibraltar Councils and was posthumously awarded the Gibraltar Medallion of Honour on Gibraltar National Day 2008?
- ... that in 1939, excavations beneath John Mackintosh Square in Gibraltar for the construction of an air-raid shelter revealed no signs of any foundations, suggesting it has always been an open square?
- ... that capital punishment in Gibraltar was last enforced in 1944 when British hangman Albert Pierrepoint travelled undercover to the territory to hang two young Spanish spies? (25 July 2012, 5,697 views)
- ... that the Gibraltar Museum houses the remains of a 14th-century Moorish bath house, once the private baths of the Governor of Gibraltar during the Marinid dynasty? (26 July 2012, 2,222 views)
- ... that the Europa Point Lighthouse at Gibraltar is the only lighthouse operated by Trinity House on continental Europe outside the United Kingdom? (27 July 2012, 4,122 views)
- ... that Giovanni Battista Calvi was an Italian military engineer who worked on many important Spanish defensive projects in the 1500s, to include those in the now British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar?
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