Useful Notes: Gibraltar
aka: Monkeys Lions And Annoyed Spaniards
"The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever."
—Treaty of Utrecht, Article X
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, located on the southern tip of Spain, and was where the Moors first landed (its name may be derived from the Arabic phrase Jabal Tariq, literally Tariq's mount, after an early leader of the Muslim conquest of Iberia), dominated by the famed Rock of Gibraltar
It probably had lions at some point.
It's famous for the Barbary Macaque or "Barbary Ape" (actually monkeys), which are the only European monkeys. Legend has it that during Spain's Great Siege during The American Revolution
, a rather trope-heavy defense of the fortress and Britain's only major success of the war, Moroccan blockade runners opposed to Spain brought limes in their dhows... and monkeys. In this way the monkeys became symbols of British rule, and during World War II
, when their population was in decline, it is said that Winston Churchill
authorized Emergency Monkey Relief. Perhaps this is not true, but it should be. These days, the monkeys primarily steal food from tourists.
The British conquered the place in 1704 from Spain. The Spanish want it back, or at least dual sovereignty. The locals are highly against that
(rejecting the proposal received just under 99%
of the vote, and Britain stated they will not enter into any agreement without strong support from locals), and they back up their argument rather convincingly with a piece of paper signed in 1713 by Spain at Utrecht giving up possession of Gibraltar forever
. Spain has periodically attempted to retake the Rock by force, such as during the aforementioned Great Siege, the longest endured by the British military (4 years), which saw feats of gallantry from both sides. During World War II
, Adolf Hitler
offered it to Francisco Franco in exchange for his support of the Axis war effort. Franco, however, demanded both Gibraltar and
the remnants of the French Empire, which Hitler wasn't prepared to promise. Franco's intransigence was helped by the British bribing him and his top generals a vast amount of money into staying out.
AKA The Rock, it remains an important military location for the British Armed Forces
. Gibraltar has over the years become synonymous with the notion of an impregnable fortress, with other prominent fortresses and military bases around the world ending up with the nickname "the Gibraltar of X". As one of the Pillars of Hercules, it is a vital access point from the Mediterranean into the North Atlantic. (Rather ironically, one of the proposed African Pillars of Hercules is...Monte Hacho, in Ceuta, which is a Spanish territory that would but for the vagaries of history be in Morocco
. Naturally, the Moroccans are about as pleased with this arrangement as the Spaniards are about Gibraltar.)
Examples of Gibraltar in media:
- An image of the Rock of Gibraltar has been used by Prudential Insurance (later known as Prudential Financial Services) since the 1890's, along with the slogans "The Strength of The Rock" and "Get a Piece of The Rock". In some countries, Prudential even operates under the brand name of "Gibraltar Life".
- In Das Boot, when the German U-Boot is ordered to enter the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, the sailors are sure they are going to die, as the British used Gibraltar to close off access.
- In Sky Blue, the characters spend most of the movie talking about the wonderful lives they'll have when they go to Gibraltar after the fall of Ecoban.
- The first scenes of The Living Daylights show a military exercise on Gibraltar, in which James Bond and the other 00s participate.
- In the Emberverse, Gibraltar survived, and became the launching pad for British recolonisation of western Europe. Sir Nigel Loring, wait, no, just Nigel Loring, was offered Governorship of Gibraltar.
- In DoubleShot, the bad guys enact a series of events that are supposed set up James Bond for crimes that he didn't commit, which are to end with Gibraltar being given back to Spain.
- Mentioned as a refueling stop in Lord of the Flies, the aeroplane doesn't end up in the sea at Gibraltar, but rather somewhere over the Pacific.
- Gibraltar's sole airfield gained notoriety on the History Channel documentary "Most Extreme Airports" for having the area's primary motor-traffic thoroughfare actually bisect the airfield's one and only runway. Photos of the airport have made their round in e-mails, saying "Look at this!" For the record, Snopes does confirm the images are completely real.
- That said, there have been plans to renovate the airport's terminal that include moving that road into a tunnel beneath the runway, but this has suffered rather major Schedule Slip.
- The Sandbaggers had an early episode set on Gib.
The Gibraltarian flag
Unlike most British Overseas Territories, this flag is not a British Ensign. Instead, it consists of a white stripe twice as wide as that of the red below. At the center is a red castle with three towers and a golden key dangling below, symbolizing both the fortress-peninsula itself and its strategic position as one of the Pillars of Hercules, respectively.