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Gibraltar commemorates 300 years of occupation


Gibraltar is a British colony at the tip of Southern Spain approximately 35 kilometres from our Spanish language school in Spain. 30,000 people live on this peninsula in the shadow of a 423 metre high rock surrounded by the ocean.

In August 1704 the British invaded the rock of Gibraltar under the regime of Archduke Carlos. He hoped to become the successor to the Spanish throne during the war. However, in the end Felipe V won the battle. All the same, the British did not leave Gibraltar because of its strategic importance. Felipe V tried to reconquer the city, but was not victorious. Spain had no choice but to accept unwillingly the leadership of the British in Gibraltar due to the treaty of Utrecht.

In 711 the Muslims conquered the rock of Gibraltar and founded the town. In 1462 Spain took it back. In its history Gibraltar was very often the target of attacks and was destroyed several times. Among the intruders were the Turks, the Berbers and even pirates. They have even found some remains of Neanderthals.

Today the population in Gibraltar is a mixture of several nationalities and religions that peacefully live together in very limited space. This multiculture (Catholics, Anglicans, Jewish, Arabs and Hindus) is also reflected in the architecture and in the clothing people wear. Spanish family names are most common but Italian, Hebrew, English and Arabian names are often heard as well. Next to their own languages, most inhabitants are bilingual and speak a peculiar mix of English and Spanish called !Spanglish!. It is even more exotic as it is spoken with an Andalusian accent. Gibraltar is also famous for being a tax haven. There are more firms registered than persons. Most of these firms are of course only fictitious to take advantage of the low taxes. However, due to new laws this preferred status will change soon.

Gibraltar has its own parliament with one minister. Most of the inhabitants would welcome the constitution of a proper nation, but vehemently reject the idea of becoming Spanish territory as all their tax facilities would be lost. The tax issue was also the reason Franco closed the border in 1969 and left the inhabitants of the rock completely isolated with no way of communicating with the rest of the continent until 1982. During this 13 year period of complete isolation the animosity against Spain grew considerably, despite the fact that some of the people closed in were Spaniards who were forced to settle in Gibraltar.

Today Gibraltar lives mainly from tourism, mostly Spanish tourism. They come to shop, especially tobacco, alcohol, cheese and butter as these articles are tax free. Another attraction is certainly the cave of San Miguel and the macacos, the only free-living monkeys in Europe. The view from the top of the rock is spectacular. On a clear day you can make out two continents, three countries and two oceans.



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