Gibraltar is commonly called the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’, which describes its topography. Gibraltar has a total land area of about 21 miles², and is roughly 3 miles wide. Algerciras, a Spanish port, is located just about five miles from Gibraltar’s Bay and the Mediterranean is located to the east.
The population of Gibraltar was estimated at 29,034 in 2011. The most densely populated areas are found on the west of Gibraltar and some parts to the north. Gibraltar has a temperate climate, while snow fall and frost are very uncommon. During the summer prevailing winds are easterly and are known for bringing in a particularly warm breeze, the ‘Levanter’.
On slopes located to the west of Gibraltar, different types of vegetation and several hundred species of flora and fauna. Nearly three hundred species of wild birds and other types of wild life can be spotted in Gibraltar, including amazing marine life. Gibraltar does not have any natural supply of water, which has resulted in the construction of water catchments for the collection of rainwater. Water distillers have however been largely used to distill sea water.
For several years, Gibraltar served mainly as a military base. Being essentially a Rock, Gibraltar was used as a fortress by the Spanish. It was not until the departure of the Spanish settlers in 1704 when Gibraltar fell under Anglo-Dutch rule that immigrants came from Genoa, Malta, Portugal and other neighboring countries to Gibraltar. By 1753, the majority of local population comprised Genoese, British and Jews.
The British who lived in Gibraltar during that time were primarily businessmen who provided goods and services to the local military. It was not long before the strategic importance of Gibraltar was acknowledged as a trading port. The ethnic backgrounds from Gibraltar thus range from Spanish, to British, Irish, Minorcan, Jewish and French. During the Second World War, civilians on Gibraltar were evacuated as the Rock was considered to be in grave danger. This evacuation of the people of Gibraltar is described as a traumatic period in the country’s history.
Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Gibraltar. Other religious denominations such as Muslim, Bahi, Jewish and Hindu are also found.