Gibraltar is a self-governing British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe at the entrance of the Mediterranean overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. The territory covers 6.843 square kilometres (2.642 sq mi) and shares a land border with Spain to the north. Gibraltar has historically been an important base for the British Armed Forces and is the site of a Royal Navy base.
A one-year investigation and analysis of 235 countries and territories by Jane’s Country Risk listed Gibraltar as 5th most prosperous and stable worldwide, and the highest ranked British territory.
The sovereignty of Gibraltar has been a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations. Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, though Spain asserts a claim to the territory and seeks its return. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians strongly oppose this, along with any proposal of shared sovereignty. The British government has stated that it is committed to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes.
The territory covers 6.843 square kilometres (2.642 sq mi). It shares a 1.2 km (0.75 mi) land border with Spain. On the Spanish side is the town La Línea de la Concepción, a municipality of Cádiz province. The part of Cádiz province next to Gibraltar is called Campo de Gibraltar, literally Gibraltar Countryside. The shoreline measures 12 km (7.5 mi) in length. There are two coasts of Gibraltar – the East Side, which contains the settlements of Sandy Bay and Catalan Bay, and the Westside, where the vast majority of the population lives.
Having negligible natural resources and few natural freshwater resources, limited to natural wells in the north, until recently Gibraltar used large concrete or natural rock water catchments to collect water. Fresh water from the boreholes is supplemented by two desalination plants: a reverse osmosis plant, constructed in a tunnel within the rock, and a multi-stage flash distillation plant at North Mole.
Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world, with approximately 4,290 inhabitants per square kilometre (11,100 /sq mi). The growing demand for space is being increasingly met by land reclamation; reclaimed land currently comprises approximately one tenth of the territory's total area.
The Rock itself is made of limestone and is 426 metres (1,396 ft) high. It contains many tunnelled roads, most of which are operated by the military and closed to the public.
Over 500 different species of flowering plants grow on The Rock. One of them, the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberis gibraltarica), is endemic to Gibraltar, being the only place in Europe where it is found growing in the wild. It is the symbol of the Upper Rock nature reserve. Among the wild trees that grow all around The Rock, olive and pine trees are some of the most common.
Most of its upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 230 Barbary Macaques, commonly known as apes, the only wild monkeys found in Europe. They sometimes visit the town area. Recent genetic studies and historical documents point to their presence on the Rock before its capture by the British. A superstition analogous to that of the ravens at the Tower of London states that if the monkeys ever leave, so will the British. In 1944 British leader Winston Churchill was so concerned about the dwindling ape population that he sent a message to the Colonial Secretary requesting that something be done about the situation. Other mammals found in Gibraltar include rabbits, foxes and bats. Dolphins and whales are frequently seen in the Bay of Gibraltar. Migrating birds are very common and Gibraltar is home to the only specimens of Barbary Partridges found on the European continent.
The climate is Mediterranean / Subtropical with mild winters and warm summers. There are two main prevailing winds, an easterly one known as the Levante coming from the Sahara in Africa which brings humid weather and warmer sea and the other as Poniente which is westerly and brings fresher air in and colder sea. Its terrain consists of the 430 metre (1,400 ft) high Rock of Gibraltar and the narrow coastal lowland surrounding it. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summers are generally dry.
Its average annual temperature is 18°C (64 °F): 21°C (70 °F) during the day and 15°C (59 °F) at night. In the coldest month - January, the typically temperature ranges from 10-17°C (52-64°F) during the day, 5-12°C (41-54°F) at night, the average sea temperature is 15-16°C (59-61°F). In the warmest month - August, the typically temperature ranges from 25-31°C (77-88°F) during the day, above 20°C (68°F) at night, the average sea temperature is 22°C (73°F). Average number of days above 21°C (70°F) is 181, average number of days above 32°C (90°F) is 5-6 (2 in July, 3 in August). Average morning relative humidity: 82%, evening relative humidity: 64%. Sunshine hours is till 2,778 per year, from 150 in November (5 hours of sunshine every day) to 341 in July .