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History of Gibraltar

Archaeological studies in the limestone caves have revealed that Gibraltar was inhabited on and off since prehistoric ages. In more recent times - 711 AD - a Muslim commander Tariq ibn Ziyad captured the land. Since then everyone who’s come to control Gibraltar has used it as a fortress – a political vantage point because of its strategic location at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea. Spain defeated the Muslim occupants in 1462 and Queen Isabella I annexed the state to Spain in 1501. Two centuries later it was Sir George Rooke who captured Gibraltar for Britain during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1713, Spain ceded the colony to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht. That however didn’t stop Spain trying to regain control repeatedly. From 1779 to 1783 Gibraltar was under a Spanish military siege. However, it became a British crown colony in 1830. In 1869, the Suez Canal opened up to trade and the British were intent on retaining their protectorate and safeguarding trade routes to India.

At the beginning of the 20th century, "the rock" was tunneled to better communication from both sides of the Iberian Peninsula. In the World Wars, Gibraltar served as a critical naval base for the U.K. and its allies. In the 1960’s, Spain vociferously canvassed for the "decolonisation" of Gibraltar. A people’s referendum polled 12,138 votes for the British and an abysmal 44 for Spain. Spain went into a sulk – it closed its border to Gibraltar and cut off trade and the labour workforce. In 1985, Spain restored relations and the border blockade is now history.

Under the constitution that was framed for Gibraltar in 1969, the country now has complete rights for internal self-governance, while defense and external policies remains the domain of Britain. Moreover, Gibraltar is now a member of the European Union.


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