Official Name: Gibraltar
Location: Gibraltar is located in southwestern Europe (just above the 36th parallel, North). It forms the northern side of the Strait of Gibraltar, the transition between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, giving it tremendous strategic importance throughout maritime history. Spain is the only country with which it shares a border.
Land Area: 6.5 sq km (2.5 sq mi).
Coast: 12 km (7.5 mi) of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.
Climate: Gibraltar has a Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Population: Just over 29,000 inhabitants, of which 21% are younger than 15, and 65% are between 15 and 64 years old.
Language: English is the language used in schools and official settings in Gibraltar. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian are also spoken.
Religion: The majority of Gibraltarians are Roman Catholic, but there are significant Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish communities, reflecting Gibraltar's place in Western European history.
Government: Gibraltar is a self-governing dependent territory of the United Kingdom, a point which has caused friction between Britain and Spain since Britain captured Gibraltar in the 1700s. (It was officially ceded to Britain by Spain in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.) The passage of a new constitution gave local government greater control. This responsibility is carried out by the popularly elected, 15-member House of Assembly. The leading vote-getter and seven others form a government, with the remaining 7 members forming the opposition. The British monarch is the titular head of state and is represented by a governor. In addition, there is a chief minister appointed by the governor and a Council of Ministers appointed by the governor with advice from the chief minister. The Council members are selected from the House of Assembly membership. The Judicial Branch consists of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
Executive (President or King): Queen Elizabeth II
Currency: British currency is used. In addition, the Government of Gibraltar issues its own notes, in pounds sterling, guaranteed by the Bank of England: the Gibraltar pound (£G), which is divided into 100 pence. The exchange rate was approximately 0.6 Gibraltar pounds (£G) for every $1 in January of 1997 (the time of the BikeAbout journey).
Find out how many Gibraltar pounds there are in your local currency!
Resources and Industry: Gibraltar's economy relies primarily on tourism, banking and finance, construction, ship repair & bunkering, and commerce. The United Kingdom maintains naval and air bases in Gibraltar, which also contributes to the Gibraltar economy, although their importance is diminishing.
Transport: 49.9 km (31 mi) of road.
Electric current: 220/240 volts.
Time Zone: GMT +1 hour
Sources: CIA World Factbook 2000, Mediterranean Europe on a shoestring (Lonely Planet), Jim Watt, Lonely Planet, Gibraltar Tourist Board
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