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  A Profile of Gibraltar Home   


The following profile has been provided by the Chief Secretary to the Government of Gibraltar.


Gibraltar is situated in latitude 367' North and longitude 52V West at the eastern end of the strait which bears its name. The Rock proper is a mass of Lower Jurassic limestone running roughly north to south along the greater part of the peninsula which is about 6.0 kilometres long and 1.2 kilometres across at its widest point. The total area of the peninsula is approximately 5.8 square kilometres.

The northern end of the peninsula is a flat, sandy isthmus by which the Rock is connected to the Spanish mainland. The Gibraltar-Spain frontier crosses the isthmus, which is extensively built-over on the Gibraltar side but remains partly vegetated by gardens and scrub on the Spanish side.

The northern and eastern faces of the Rock consists of steep cliffs. The north face is an unbroken precipice but the eastern cliffs are ascended to 290 metres above Catalan and Sandy Bays by an accumulated sandbank. The top of the eastern face is an undulating ridge about 3.9 kilometres long. Its highest point is near its southern extremity where it reaches 426 metres above sea level.

The western slopes of the Rock are the least steep and the built-up areas have arisen mainly on the lower parts of these. The upper part of the western slopes remains largely uninhabited and most of the densely vegetated areas are found here.


The present-day Gibraltarians have their origins in the eighteenth century subsequent to the capture of Gibraltar by the English, though it was not until the nineteenth century that the Gibraltarian identity came to be recognised as such. The Gibraltarians are a mixture of many bloods, nationalities and cultures, mainly of Mediterranean origin all blending together to produce an individual who cannot be identified by any single strand in his evolution, but who is the sum of the total whole. The earlier inhabitants were of Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese, Jewish, British and, to a lesser extent, Spanish origin.

The total provisional estimates of the 2001 Census taken on 12 November 2001 revealed a population for 2002 as 28,231 of whom 22,875 were British Gibraltarian, 3,370 other British and 1,986 non-British.


Gibraltar law derives exclusively from English law. The hierarchy of courts comprise the Supreme Court of Gibraltar, the Court of First Instance of Gibraltar and the Magistrates Court, the last acting as a juvenile Court dealing with offences by children and young persons. Appeals from the Supreme Court lie with the Gibraltar Court of Appeal and Privy Council.

Language and Education

The official language is English although Spanish is widely spoken. Tuition is in English and English public examinations are taken. Primary education is co-educational and firmly based on a division between First Schools age group 4 to 8 and Middle Schools age group 8 to 12. The Comprehensive system operates for Secondary Education which consists of two single-sex comprehensive schools. Two private schools cater for Jewish girls and another for Jewish boys and a third independent private school for children up to 12 years.

It is the Government's policy to provide scholarships for any young person who has the ability and the necessary qualifications to obtain a place at university. The vast majority of students attend UK universities.


The economy is primarily service-based. It is largely dependent on financial services, Tourism and Port and Port-related activities. GDP per capita in 2000/2001 matched the UK average.


Gibraltar enjoys full employment. The total labour force is around 14,000, of which 10,500 work in the private sector. The Government is a major employer, accounting for over 3,000 employees. The Ministry of Defence base in Gibraltar, which was traditionally the dominant sector of the economy up to the mid-1980s continues to make a fairly significant contribution employing around 1,000 persons and accounting for between 6%>to 10%>of GDP.

Financial Services

Gibraltar is an attractive 'offshore' centre. The formation of the Financial Service Commission in 1990 was one of the most important factors in this development. The Commission is responsible for supervising and authorising providers of financial services on matters to do with banking, insurance, investment services, investments funds, company management and professional trustships.

As at the 31 December 2002 there were 19 authorised banks in Gibraltar. The majority of these are either subsidiaries or branches of major UK or other European Economic Area (EEA) banks. Ten of these banks are incorporated in Gibraltar and licensed by the Commission. There are seven branches of EEA - authorised banks operating in Gibraltar.

At 30 September 2002, the total assets of the banks amounted to approximately 4.6 billion. Third-party funds under management by the banks amounted to approximately 5.3 billion.


Gibraltar Government and United Kingdom sterling currency notes and coinage are legal tender in Gibraltar.


The rate of inflation was 1.71 in 2002.

The main Consolidated Fund
expenditure items for the period April
2001 to March 2002 were as follows:

Education and Culture17.2m
Technical Services11.6m
Social security and
social services
and buildings and works
Tourism and transport 6.4m
Customs 3.3m
Fire service 2.6m
Trade, industry and
Employment and
consumer affairs


Government revenue credited to the Consolidated Fund for the year ended 31 March 2001 totalled 143.5m whereas expenditure amounted to 114.3m.

The main sources of Consolidated Fund revenues were Income Tax 61.6m, Import Duties 29.9m and General Rates which totalled 11.6m.

Expenditure of a capital nature is financed through the Improvement and Development Fund. Improvement and Development Fund Revenue for the year ended 31 March 2002 was 23.1m and the Improvement and Development Fund expenditure was 14.06m.


The tourist market to Gibraltar is largely based on short stay breaks to Gibraltar, calls from cruise liners and yachts and, more significantly, day trip tourism from visitors in Spain.

Passenger arrivals for the year 2002 were as follows:

  • Air arrivals 115,681 persons

  • Ferry arrivals 26,300 persons

  • Cruise visitors 116,918 persons

  • Land Frontier 7,375,112 persons

Gibraltar is being expanded as a conference destination with several hotels featuring conference facilities.

Port and Shipping

Gibraltar has been a maritime centre for well over 3,000 years. The Port of Gibraltar is administered by the Gibraltar Port Authority. It offers an impressive portfolio of maritime services tailored for a modem shipping industry which includes: major bunkering facilities, world class ship repair yard, modern facilities for yachts, pleasure crafts and cruises, cargo handling facilities and the supply of stores, provisions and bonded stores.

The Gibraltar Ship Registry operates under the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. Ships registered in Gibraltar are British ships and fly the Red Ensign. Gibraltar is in the European Union and the Gibraltar Ship Register is an EU Member State's Register. EU nationals and companies registered within the EU or other companies registered in Gibraltar as a Foreign Maritime Entity can have ships registered in Gibraltar both under ownership as well as bareboat charter.

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