Gibraltar Overview

Gibraltar derives from Gibel Tariq - Tariq's Mountain - which is named after Tariq Ibn Zeyad who led the eighth-century conquest of Spain by a combined force of Arabs and Berbers crossing from Africa. Gibraltar's unusual status was not acquired until almost 1000 years later, long after the Islamic invaders had been driven out by the Spanish, as a consequence of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht which brought to an end the War of the Spanish Succession and gave the territory to Britain. The British interpretation of the treaty moreover holds that the territory was ceded to them indefinitely. The presence of a foreign-owned mini-state on the Spanish mainland has been an irritant to Anglo-Spanish relations ever since.

The current Spanish position was first outlined by Felipe González, Spain's Socialist Premier during the 1980s, when he suggested joint Anglo-Spanish sovereignty. Successive Spanish Governments, including the present Zapatero administration, have since refined the proposals, allowing for possible EU or NATO involvement. The British have no major objection, in principle, to the Spanish recovering full sovereignty over the territory - provided they are guaranteed continued access to its military base facilities. The problem is that the Gibraltarians are having none of it. In response to the latest round of talks between London and Madrid which began in 2001 and explored in detail possible joint sovereignty models, the Gibraltar Government led by Peter Caruana organized a referendum in November 2002 to assess the popular mood. As expected, it returned a huge majority in favor of the status quo.

Known as the the 'Rock', Gibraltar contains 143 caves, over 48km (30 miles) of road and miles of tunnels. From rock touring, to sailing, diving, fishing and bird watching, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the diverse range of attractions on offer in Gibraltar. Located at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, where Europe meets Africa, visitors are also assured of breathtaking scenery, wildlife and architecture, that captures the unique flavor of this Mediterranean city. As a VAT-free jurisdiction, Gibraltar's popularity with visitors is further enhanced by its value added shopping experience in famed Main Street.

Geography

Gibraltar is a large promontory of jurassic limestone, situated in the western entrance to the Mediterranean. The rock is 5km (3 miles) long and the highest point is 426m (1,400ft) above sea level. An internal self-governing British Crown Colony, Gibraltar has given its name to the Bay and the Straits, which it overlooks. Spain is to the north and west, and Morocco is 26km (16 miles) to the south.

Climate

Gibraltar has an average of 300 days sunshine a year and the climate is Mediterranean. A warm, dry summer alternating with a mild wet winter. The sub-tropical sun of North Africa is tempered by gentle sea breezes in summer and temperatures can rise well above 30°C.

In January, daytime temperatures are usually around 16°C to 18°C and it is quite possible to top up a tan. Rainfall is mostly limited to early or late in the year. Snow and frost is extremely rare in Gibraltar. Annual rainfall averages 899 millimetres, however year to year fluctuations are high.

A climatic phenomenon very typical of the Rock is the famous Levanter cloud. This is a dense cloud cover that forms on the top of the Rock when humid easterly winds are deflected upwards along the sheer face of its eastern side.

Currency

While Gibraltar produces its own notes and coins, the Monetary Unit of Gibraltar is actually UK Sterling. Sterling Currency Notes issued by the Bank of England are therefore legal tender and in circulation in Gibraltar alongside the local note issues.

Healthcare

The Gibraltar Health Authority operates a Group Practice Medical Scheme whereby contributors to the system receive free health benefits. Should you become a contributor, all your medical needs will be met either on The Rock itself, or by outside providers, which are arranged by the scheme.

Residence & Work Permits

Only Gibraltarians and British citizens are allowed to live and work in Gibraltar without a residence permit. Nationals from other EU member states are issued residence permits upon providing proof that they will not become a burden to the state. Non-EU citizens will find it more difficult to obtain a residence permit in Gibraltar as they must first produce a work contract, and that can only be issued if the employer can prove that no Gibraltarian or EU citizen is able or willing to do the job.

Cost of Living

Gibraltar is not a part of the customs union and therefore has duty free shopping and does not charge VAT. Cigarettes, liquor, gas and perfumes are only some items which are bought by Spaniards and other nationalities because of the low price. Despite the tax benefits, the cost of living can be compared the UK. Water and electricity charges are higher than costs elsewhere, and property prices are much higher than those in neighbouring Spain. Despite the close trading links between the UK and Gibraltar, the Rock's proximity to Spain and its economic environment also influences Gibraltar's cost of living.

Personal Income Taxation Levels

Individuals are charged to tax on their taxable income which is arrived at by deducting personal and other allowances from the assessable income at the following rates:

For every pound of

  • the first £4,000 of taxable income - 17%
  • the next £9,000 of taxable income - 30%
  • the remainder of the taxable income - 42%

Ordinary Personal Tax Allowances

Allowances Single starts paying at £2,812 Married, no children starts paying at £5,444 Married, 1 child starts paying at £6,441
Personal £2,812 £2,812 £2,812
Spouse   £2,632 £2,632
Child     £6,441

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